08.21.20 SUPERINTENDENT UPDATE

Parents,

After our first full week of school I am here to report to you that I am very pleased with how we have come along.

Our traditional schools are operating very well with many identifying this as the best start of school ever!

Thank you to everyone for your help and cooperation!

Virtual School has not gone as well. We have been met by technical challenges, roadblocks to staffing, enrollment and schedule conflicts and other issues -- all of these being caused by the giant enrollment we saw come in just the last few days of registration. I know how easy it is to say we should have anticipated this and been prepared. We were prepared, but not for the last-minute rush that was honestly overwhelming.

That having been said, the buck stops with me. Parents, I apologize that we were not ready on day one but with my last breath, I assure you that we will deliver to you the excellent educational opportunity we offered. My teams are focusing on this area and I expect we are a couple of weeks away from having all of these issues resolved. I will have more to say directly to Virtual School parents in a separate email today.

Let's talk about the storms approaching us. 

I’m sure you have heard, there are two tropical systems headed towards the Gulf. These are expected to be hurricanes in the next 24-48 hours and should enter the Gulf on Monday. I am told by our weather advisors that it is very likely one, if not both, could threaten our area.

We will be open for school on Monday but Tuesday through Friday will depend on storm conditions. Myself and our team will be monitoring these developments with weather advisors and emergency management officials over the weekend. I will provide you additional guidance on Monday, or sooner, if such is warranted.

Let's talk football. 

Last night, Fairhope defeated Spanish Fort in a local rivalry. Unfortunately, their victory was overshadowed by the lack of compliance in wearing masks and social distancing by students and parents from both teams. I am very disappointed.

Tonight, another 5 games will take place in Baldwin County and we will be watching to see how the parents and students comply with our directives.

I am considering what next steps we will take to comply with the Governor's orders, to protect our teams and our community. These could include the further reduction in capacity, discipline of students, denial of entry and the cancellation of games.

We can all have our opinions about the virus, masks and our rights and freedoms but if you are coming to our games, on our property, then you will comply with our rules. Just like we don't allow alcohol, we will not allow people without masks. I expect our rules will be followed, or we will take additional measures including a halt to spectators at future events.

If you are planning to attend a game tonight, I expect, as a parent, you will be a role model for our students and you will act as a parent and require your child to comply with our directives, else we may be playing football without fans.

As a former coach I do not want to take this action but there are others watching us who will make this decision for me if we don't do a better job. More importantly, these athletes worked hard all summer to get here. As a result of their hard work and compliance we had very few COVID incidents among our teams. Please don't let the behavior of others impact or cancel their season.

Let's talk about what we are doing on campus.

We have visited every school in the county and some more than once. I have eaten in cafeterias, met with students and teachers, visited classrooms and I've even crawled on the floor with our younger kids. Our school areas are as clean as I have ever seen. We have plenty of supplies and I am so impressed with the effort of our custodians and building teams. These people are amazing and have my deepest gratitude for the often-thankless job they do. So PLEASE thank them if you have the chance!!!

Finally let's address the COVID-19 reporting. 

With 31,000 students in Baldwin County, we have had very few COVID-19 cases reported. In fact, we have had less than a dozen students reported as COVID positive since school started. Let's keep this trend by following healthy protocols on AND off campus.

I have directed our system to be as transparent as possible. No system in Alabama is providing the daily updates we are. It is my goal to let you know when we have students who are absent as a result of being COVID positive or being suspected of COVID. Remember, these reports are not JUST COVID positive, but include kids who could have had a stomachache and a fever. Combined, those are symptoms of COVID, but they could also just be a stomachache and a fever.

In some instances, these children may not have been on our campus, resting sick at home. Either way, we are going to let you know because it has been my position all along that we are surrounded by the virus and we must remain diligent in our mitigation efforts. By letting you know what's going on, I hope to keep this on your mind, so you keep reminding your kids about how to be safe.

I have been asked about a change to reporting only COVID positive at some point in the future. For now, I think it is better to over report and be as transparent as possible with you. We might change once we get a handle on where this is headed, but at this point we have had no reports of panic or over-reactions by parents. In fact, it seems by all reports you are pleased with what we are doing in this area. At this time, we will keep doing what we are doing.

Let's finish how we started - what a great first week of school!!! Thank you all so much for your support and your patience. Virtual School parents, we are going to get there. I am confident that you, like our traditional school families, will make this the best school year ever!

Thank you for trusting us with your children.

Eddie Tyler,

Superintendent

#BaldwinProud #CommunityStrong