Avis Williams II

Avis Williams is the superintendent of Selma City Schools. 

It’s time to reopen schools for face-to-face learning. Earlier this month, the Selma City Schools board of education approved Team Selma’s Return to Excellence Phase III Reopening Plan. The amended recommendation is to begin a five-day school week starting this week, with virtual learning remaining an option.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has given guidance to reopening schools safely. Recently the guidance was updated making it easier for schools to comply. Rather than a 6-foot social distance, the new recommendation calls for us to strive for 3-feet. Our Team has used CDC guidance and other data and resources to ensure that our buildings are safe. The safety and health of our scholars and Team members remain our top priority and we are ready.

We know that staff and families alike may have concerns and we understand that we will need to continue to communicate our safety practices. For example, we have desk shields, signage regarding social distancing, reminders to wash hands properly, plenty of cleaning supplies and numerous protocols that will be implemented. Additionally, learning spaces and bathrooms will be cleaned and disinfected on a routine schedule. Also, at least initially, breakfast and lunch will be delivered to classrooms daily and grab and go will be provided for scholars who learn virtually.

For scholars returning to face-to-face learning, temperatures will be checked daily. Perhaps the greatest change from previous school years is no uniform requirement. We will follow a dress code that has been shared by our schools.

No uniforms but there will be the mask mandate. All scholars, teachers, staff and visitors will be required to wear a mask or appropriate face covering. These must be worn properly to cover the nose and mouth.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that it’s been more than a year since our governor issued a state of emergency and Stay at Home Order that closed schools and many businesses due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, here we are.

I am excited to welcome our scholars back. We know that many lost family members over the last year. Many have experienced trauma. Being at school will provide a much needed layer of support and we are ready.

During the pandemic, there were times when I lamented that we were embarking on many tasks that had never been done before as we navigated truly unprecedented times. It’s different now.

We are in the fortunate position to be able to learn from the many school districts in our state and across the nation who reopened schools as early as last fall. When speaking with my colleagues, I have learned that this hasn’t been perfect by any means. Ours may not be either and we are prepared to address any challenges as they arise.

As always, let me close by reminding everyone that we must continue to Do Our Part Everyday. Join our DOPE campaign and let’s stop the spread of Covid-19. Thanks so much to the dedicated professionals of Vaughn Regional Medical Center, Rural Health, Wallace Community College of Selma, the City of Selma, Main Street Family Care, our own Team Selma nursing staff and all others for continuing to support testing sites and vaccination clinics.

All of our Team members have had the chance to get fully vaccinated. We will continue to provide information about other opportunities to get the vaccine for Team members who have not. This includes the one dose Johnson and Johnson shot that is now available.

Yes, it’s time to welcome our scholars back to school! We can see the light at the end of the tunnel but we must remain vigilant in the meantime by continuing to follow CDC guidelines and use common sense. We are ready. Stay safe and be DOPE!

For more information, email me at avis.williams@selmacityschools.org

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