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Madison County School’s students will be returning to in-person instruction on Jan. 20. The district will remain virtual until Jan. 19.

Schools will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King day on Jan. 18.

Erin Stewart, community education director, explained the decision to have classes return to in-person learning on Jan. 20 dealt with the many “layers” of COVID-19 related issues.

She explained the district has been monitoring COVID-19 numbers for the county closely. The rise in numbers, the county believes, is due to holiday gatherings. But the district anticipates these numbers will go down. The Jan. 20 start date allows those numbers to drop to a “more manageable” range.

“We are really excited to get our students back into the building… To get back to something a little more normal,” Stewart said.

When Madison County Schools do start back they will be doing so under the district’s Orange plan. Stewart explained the Orange plan is a hybrid system. This system entails grouping students into two groups with two days each week of instruction — Monday and Wednesday grouped together and Tuesday and Thursday grouped together. According to the plan, one group of students will attend classes in person on their two days and then two other days of the week those students will be learning virtually. Students will be put into groups and will rotate through the schedule.

In order to keep Madison County School students safe, the district is strictly following the Safe At School guidelines. Stewart explained the most important issue of these guidelines is socially distancing the students. The schools have worked on protocols to keep everyone socially distanced in the classroom, cafeteria, hallways, and bathrooms. She said, for now, this is a good way to ease into the idea of returning back to normal.

“We’d like to, sooner rather than later, get to the Yellow plan,” Stewart said.

That plan is for students who have chosen in-person learning to attend school five days a week.

“But, the Orange plan gives us the option to get students back with fewer numbers, to make sure our schools are safe,” Stewart said.

She explained if the numbers do not go down and changes have to be made to the return date, Madison County Schools will communicate the change as soon as possible.

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