Within hours of the announcement that public schools in Alabama would close Wednesday afternoon and remain closed at least until April 6, Andalusia Elementary School principal Brenda Johnson asked her faculty to put together take-home packages for each child.

And she was awed by the result. 

The announcement was made Friday afternoon. Mrs. Johnson emailed the faculty Saturday morning. And immediately, faculty members began sharing resources and developing plans.

As a result, pick-up for Home Learning Packets began at noon Tuesday at AES for Pre-K through fifth grade. Parents of sixth graders can pick up packets from noon until 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The school had parents pick up packets because many chose to keep their children at home this week.

AES reading specialist and veteran teacher Ashley Black was among those on the front sidewalk delivering packets Tuesday.

Mrs. Black said the packets include enough materials to reinforce reading and math skills for each of the seven days of classes the students will miss. Five of the days that students will be out are Spring Break days. 

“This is not required, and it’s not something for students to do all day long,” Mrs. Black said. “These are things they can do a little bit at the time so that we can keep them at their current reading and math levels.”

Packets were individualized, as not all students have access to online services. Those students received more content on paper. 

In addition, for students who normally receive special services – for instance, speech therapy – there were extra activities in the packets.

In a typical school day, AES students use iPads to access Classworks, where they have individualized learning plans. Teachers also included usernames and passwords in the packets, Mrs. Black said, adding that AES students can access those lessons through the school’s website, http://andalusiaelementary.al.ace.schoolinsites.com/.

Many teachers set up Google classrooms where students can log on and get assignments. 

Mrs. Black agreed with Mrs. Johnson that the cooperation among teachers was great. 

“They rolled with it because this is what we do,” she said. “We have to be flexible to handle the things that come along every day.”

Superintendent Ted Watson told the Andalusia Board of Education that he is super proud of the system employees who are going the extra mile to make sure students have meals, and instructional materials.