Northside Baptist Christian School has joined the many other educational districts in the region in delaying their start dates to late August. The decision to move their first day to August 26 was made at a special-called meeting on Sunday where parents and teachers alike voiced their concerns.
“While there are many good perspectives to be considered, we are thankful that our faculty and staff will now have even more time to prepare for a school year that will be much different than we had before,” a statement on the school’s Facebook page read. “We will also be communicating next week to our families what our procedures will be as we prepare for the school year. Thank you for your patience, support, and most importantly your prayers!”
Pastor and Superintendent Al Chandler said a survey was conducted in the days leading up to the meeting showed 66% of parents approved the delay. The recommendation to delay passed with a 5-1 vote. Chandler declined to identify the single opposing vote, but said their argument was no less significant and still worth consideration.
The argument, he said, was that students should be in front of teachers as much as possible, and as early as possible, in the event schools are shutdown across the state due to the pandemic. However, as Northside is a smaller institution with smaller classes, Chandler said they do not have the technologies and resources that others have for moving to an online curriculum like other districts.
The primary reason for the delay, he said, was to allot more time for teachers to prepare and for social distance training. One of the things teachers are getting ready for is being able to teach online, however, this will only be utilized as a contingency plan in the event classes are scaled back or even shut down.
The mask mandate in particular had been the most difficult guideline to work around since communication in education is important, and having the mask obstructs that process, he said. Furthermore, getting children to wear their masks would prove to be difficult. But thanks to the delayed start date, they will not begin classes until after the 30-day mask mandate expires, though he was sure more mandates would come.
It is because of this and Northside’s smaller classroom sizes (the largest being 15 students) that Chandler believes they have experienced an increase in enrollment over the past few weeks.
Chandler also said children learn best when they’re together and with teachers, so it’s important to “get that normal as quickly as possible.” Though they have their work cut out for them, he said Northside still looks forward to seeing the children learning again.
“We’re excited to get back to school with our Northside families,” Chandler said. “We are working with the health department, and what’s the best procedures for our schools, our facilities, and we promise to do what’s best for our kids and families.”