Looking Back Over A Year of COVID-19

Huntsville City Schools students, families, faculty and staff members, and administrators have persevered, adapted, and remained resilient through one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s history. 

Thursday, March 11, 2021 marked one year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The months that followed required countless hours of planning, enhancing, and evolving to meet the needs of HCS students and staff members while prioritizing health and safety.

To mark this date, HCS developed the timeline below as a reminder of how our district and stakeholders have overcome the challenges the year has presented.  The past year has proven that we are #HCStrong.

HCS COVID-19 Timeline

  • January 30, 2020: World Health Organization declares the COVID-19 outbreak a global health emergency.
  • March 5, 2020: Huntsville City Schools (HCS) district leadership presents preliminary mitigation efforts and plans regarding the impending COVID-19 health situation.
  • March 9, 2020: Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) reports no COVID-19 in Alabama.
  • March 9, 2020: HCS creates a coronavirus & crisis contingency plan hub on the district website, posting safety & preventative health measures being taken by the school system. 
  • March 10, 2020: HCS releases Crisis Contingency Plan checklist which details actions being taken by the district.
  • March 11, 2020: World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a global pandemic.
  • March 13, 2020: ADPH reports first positive COVID-19 case in Alabama. Governor Kay Ivey and State Superintendent Eric Mackey announce that all Alabama schools will close at the end of Wednesday, March 18, 2020. HCS teachers and staff begin preparing e-learning plans for students.
  • March 15, 2020: HCS institutes a precautionary school closing beginning on March 16, 2020 and set to last until April 6, 2020.  Later that day, it is announced that all athletic events are also postponed until at least April 6, 2020.
  • March 16, 2020: Teachers and staff open school buildings for students and families to pick up belongings at schools.  District begins providing free ‘Grab N’ Go’ lunch service at eight school sites across the city.
  • March 19, 2020: HCS begins bus-delivered meal services to neighborhoods.  City of Huntsville offers free bus transit services for any child or individual heading to a feeding site.
  • March 20, 2020: HCS Superintendent Finley releases a comprehensive update to families:
    • ‘Grab N’ Go’ sites reduced based on participation, while meal delivery locations increase
    • Digital and online enrichment activities provided for families
    • IT Help Desk remains open to provide technology assistance to students and families
    • Data caps for student mobile hotspots increase from 2GB to 20GB in order to meet new demands
  • March 30, 2020: Lunch services begin to be provided by The Rock Family Worship Center and The Dream Center, in partnership with The Manna House.
  • April 2, 2020: HCS announces that Huntsville Utilities and ADTRAN will be working with HCS to install WiFi extensions outside every school campus, extending WiFi to 300 yards away from each building so students may access course content remotely.  The announcement is made via a virtual press conference. HCS Board of Education holds its first virtual Board Meeting.
  • April 6, 2020: HCS begins its Blending Learning Plan, where students use a combination of digital and traditional resources to continue learning at home through the last day of school.  Teachers begin recording over 500 video lessons at the district’s ETV Studio, which are then uploaded to the district website for on-demand student access.
  • April 7, 2020: Over a dozen area churches begin working with The Manna House to continue providing curbside meal service during the school closure.
  • April 9, 2020: HCS donates nearly 40 pallets of unused perishable food items to North Alabama Food Bank.
  • May 21, 2020: The district completes the last day of school under the Blended Learning Plan.  District leadership immediately begins planning for the 2020-21 school year.
  • June 4, 2020: HCS announces the launch of Huntsville Virtual Academy (HVA), a fully online learning option available to students and families that will begin with the 2020-21 school year.
  • June 8, 2020: HCS begins allowing athletic and extracurricular activities to resume under strict risk mitigation protocols.
  • June 10, 2020: Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama, Inc. donates 5,000 face masks to the school district.
  • June 25-26, 2020: HCS holds delayed in-person graduation ceremonies at the VBC with additional precautions in place due to COVID-19. 
  • July 9, 2020: The district releases a comprehensive 2020-21 Reset Plan and launches a new Reset Plan hub on the district website which consolidates all information about the upcoming school year in one location. 
  • July 22, 2020: HCS joins other local school districts in announcing that it will begin the school year with students in remote learning.
  • July 23, 2020: Individual HCS departments release information about their changes under the reset plan for the 2020-21 school year.
  • August 10, 2020: HCS teachers return to classrooms for the first time since March.
  • August 12, 2020: The district launches a COVID-19 Facility Impact page on the district website, which provides information about when an individual at a school tests positive, when that facility was sanitized, and when it was re-opened.
  • August 17, 2020: First day of school begins with all students in remote learning. 
  • August 19, 2020: HCS Athletics Department holds a press conference to announce new fall athletic event guidelines.
  • September 4, 2020: Superintendent Finley releases a series of Supe to Go ETV videos which give stakeholders a preview of what it will look like when students return to buildings for in-person learning.
  • September 14, 2020: Pre-K through 8th grade students return to school buildings for the first time since March on a staggered schedule.
  • September 21, 2020: 9th through 12th grade students return to school buildings for the first time since March on a staggered schedule.
  • September 21, 2020: The district relaunches the Facility Impact Report as the COVID-19 Dashboard detailing case positive cases and quarantines by school location.  The dashboard also incorporates a list of school closures with reopening dates.
  • October 26, 2020: HCS announces new state guidance which allows all students to receive free meals through the end of the 2020-21 school year.

Since October, the district has continued to monitor health conditions within each school and facility while following guidance set forth by the ALSDE and Alabama Department of Public Health. Students in Huntsville Virtual Academy have remained in virtual instruction throughout the year.

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