Students will have multiple options when it comes to returning to Athens City Schools for the 2020-2021 academic year.

According to a letter released by the school system from acting superintendent Beth Patton, students will return Aug. 17.

They will have two options. The first will involve traditional face-to-face instruction in the classroom as usual. The second will involve remote learning. Students will work online and will be checked on regularly by teachers giving them instruction.

“This is not a commitment for the entire school year,” said Patton in the letter. “We will establish checkpoints where families can choose to return to traditional learning. Full-time remote instruction will require a greater daily time commitment than was experienced during the last quarter of 2019-2020.”

There will also be a “blended” version of the two formats for students who choose traditional instruction.

“This will enable students to transition between traditional and remote and back again, which will be crucial if we need to close a classroom or a school for cleaning and disinfecting and/or if your child needs to stay home for an extended amount of time,” Patton said.

Patton said in the letter that ACS will continue to work with families to determine the individual needs of students. Parents are asked to help maintain student safety by following guidelines put in place by the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We ask that parents check student temperatures and do not send them to school if 100.4 or greater,” Patton said. “Parents should monitor for symptoms daily, including cough, congestion, shortness of breath or gastrointestinal symptoms. Any positives should be kept home from school. Our attendance policy will be revised and shared at a later date.”

According to the letter, bus services will continue to run with “additional safety measures” in place. Students should not be allowed to enter a bus if they are showing any of the COVID-19 symptoms.

“We know you have many questions, and our goal is to provide answers as accurately and timely as possible so you can confidently make the best decision for your family,” said Patton.

Questions about the return to school can be submitted at on a Google form. The webpage also contains the answers to several frequently-asked questions.

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