First Day of School

Monday, August 17 is the first day of school for the 2020-21 term.  Students enrolled in the Traditional Learning Framework will begin the 1st 9 weeks in Remote Learning due to the current COVID-19 health situation.  For information about what that will look like this year, please click the more information button below to view the Reset Plan Information Hub.

Reset Plan General FAQ

For questions specific to Huntsville Virtual Academy, please visit the Huntsville Virtual Academy Information & FAQ page.

This FAQ will continue to be updated throughout the week and will include a variety of information from different departments.  If your question isn't currently answered, please check back soon for more updates!

General Questions & Answers
When is the first day of school?

The first day for students will be Monday, Aug. 17, 2020.

What options are available for families?

Families may choose for their student to engage in traditional or virtual learning. Assuming health conditions permit, students will be at school every day within the traditional framework. However, the district is prepared to implement a staggered schedule or remote learning if health conditions warrant.

Additionally, the Huntsville Virtual Academy (HVA) is an option for families who would prefer their student engage in fully online learning. Learn more and enroll by visiting the Huntsville Virtual Academy page. The new deadline for enrollment is July 20, 2020 to accommodate for staffing.

Will my child have to wear a face covering on campus?

Huntsville City Schools will require students and staff members to wear a face covering.

How can families help promote a safe & healthy environment?

The school district is asking families to monitor the health of their child and watch for signs of COVID-19. If a student has any symptoms, the student should stay home from school.

What safety precautions is the district taking to promote a safe & healthy environment?

Students and staff members will be required to wear a face covering. Social distancing will be practiced to the greatest extent possible. Cleaning and disinfecting will occur frequently.

Will there be consequences for not following safety guidelines?

Under the Traditional Learning Framework, consequences may be administered for the following behaviors:

  • Causing face mask disruptions
  • Not following social distancing guidelines  
  • Intentionally disregarding other safety measures, such as coughing in another student's face

The District is developing specific procedures for the mitigation of infectious diseases like COVID-19.  Part of those procedures will include requirements for students to follow safety procedures, which may include, for example, wearing a mask.  Additionally, the BLG already contains consequences for failing to follow instructions, for causing physical harm to other students, and for threatening other students. 

Our teachers and administrators are trained to consider students' behaviors in light of each student's age, development, and other relevant circumstances when implementing the BLG and the District's new infectious disease procedures.  As such, when students perform the behaviors listed, the students will be subject to age and developmentally appropriate consequences pursuant to the BLG and the new procedures

How is HCS enabling social distancing in the classroom, and what level of social distancing is planned?

During the summer, principals performed space analyses of their buildings, starting with a rubric of a 9-foot space (3 feet of personal space and 6 feet of social distance) between individuals. The principals measured each room, and made detailed floor plans showing how many people (students and teachers) can be in each room. The principals also designed ways to re-purpose larger spaces, such as cafeterias and media centers, for instruction. Analysis was also performed at 8 and 7 feet of distance between individuals.

Once the number of students who are choosing the Huntsville Virtual Academy is known, the District staff and principals will perform a risk assessment that will determine whether or not the number of students who have chosen the Traditional option will allow a sufficient level of risk mitigation for all students to come to school every day. If appropriate levels of social distancing cannot be enabled for the number of students who choose the Traditional option, HCS will operate on a staggered schedule, where Traditional students will be assigned to a cohort that will attend school on some days and learn remotely on other days.

Will my student lose their spot in the magnet program if they choose to enroll in HVA?

No. HVA and magnet teachers will provide students with instruction virtually.

How will Special Education & English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESOL) be impacted?

HCS will continue to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for all students with a specialized plan.  For more information, see the Special Education section below.

What internet resources will be available for families?

All school campuses are equipped with 300 yard wifi range, thanks to a partnership with AdTran and Huntsville Utilities. Additionally, HCS will deploy wifi-equipped buses into the community for families to access wifi. Families are also invited to visit to view low-cost internet options in the area.

Health Services
What happens if a student tests positive for COVID-19?

Positive cases will be addressed and assessed on an individual basis, and HCS will follow guidance from the Alabama Department of Public Health. Conditions may warrant a school closure and temporary transition to remote learning.

If I have multiple children enrolled in HCS, and one of my children has an exposure at school, do all of my children need to self-isolate?

The student with the exposure would need to stay home and self-isolate according to Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines.  In the event that this student becomes symptomatic, household members and close contacts (within 6 feet of a positive person for at least 15 minutes) would also need to self-isolate.

Who will need to self-isolate if a student or staff member is positive for COVID-19?

Any persons with a direct exposure to a person testing positive for COVID-19 will need to self-isolate for 10 days from the last date of exposure to the positive person, according to guidance from the Alabama Department of Public Health.  A direct exposure is classified as any person within 6 feet of a person for at least 15 minutes. In the event of a positive case, all persons with potential exposure will be notified. 

Curriculum & Instruction
What learning platforms will be used for each grade level?

Pre-K-12 will use the learning management system Schoology to access School PLP for grade level curriculum. Additional online learning platforms may be use for specific courses, enrichment, and intervention.

Will we be able to correspond with a teacher if we choose the virtual learning option?

Students enrolled in HVA will have access to a HCS classroom teacher for instructional support and guidance.

Will the same teacher be responsible for in-person instruction and virtual instruction?

It is the goal of the district for this not to occur. However, teachers may need to provide instructional support virtually to those students who are absent from school due to illness and self-isolation relating to COVID-19 concerns.

Will there still be conferences so we know how the teacher feels the student is doing?

Classroom teachers are required to conduct at least one parent/teacher conference per semester. However, additional conferences may be conducted when requested.

Where can I find my child's school supply list?

The district has created a common supply list for schools to use. This will be sent to parents by school principals and will be posted on the school's website.

Will there be any additions/deletions to school supply lists?

The district has created a common supply list for schools to use. This will be sent to parents by school principals and will be posted on the school’s website.

Will families have the option of changing from Traditional to HVA throughout the year?

Families will have the opportunity to apply for HVA at the beginning of each semester. Students must commit to enrollment in HVA for at least one semester.

If the traditional plan is chosen, and the school system moves to a staggered or full remote learning plan, will traditional school students switch to the same virtual plan as the Virtual Academy students?

The same curriculum, SchoolsPLP, will be used in the traditional and virtual frameworks, which is aligned with the Alabama College & Career Ready standards.

Will in-person instruction be the same as virtual instruction?

Classroom teachers will provide interactive instructional meetings online to mimic face-to-face instruction to the greatest extent possible.

Will HCS provide after-school care?

The district has solicited bids for an after school care vendor. If a vendor is located and awarded a bid, after school care will be provided.

Will students be allowed to use shared personal items or classroom manipulatives and equipment during class?

Classroom teachers will remind students frequently to not share personal items with one another. The classroom teacher will not plan classroom activities that require students to share classroom items and equipment.

Will children still be able to access a “classroom library” where they can share books?

Teachers will not have classroom libraries at this time. Students will use MyOn, a digital platform where children’s books can be read digitally.

If traditional becomes obsolete at any point in the fall semester, will those students move to remote or staggered or do they have the option for Virtual Academy.

If traditional is no longer an option, coursework, lessons, instruction, and assignments will move to remote learning via online. Students can enroll in HVA virtual at the beginning of each semester.

Will the children be given grades for each assignment they turn in? How often will assignments be provided?

Students will be given grades on assignments designated by the classroom teachers. Other assignments will be used to help guide instruction.

Students will be provided 5 math lessons, 5 reading lessons, 5 science lessons, and 5 social studies lessons every week. Additionally, students will be provided with instruction in music, art and physical education (P.E.)

Will assignments all be electronic?

At this time, all assignments will be electronic. However, if a student needs additional accommodations, parents are requested to contact classroom teacher and school principal to inform them that additional accommodations are needed.

Will the district provide devices for students?

K-12 students will be issued a device to receive instruction.

Special Education
I am concerned that my child may have a disability. Who should I contact?

For students participating in the traditional, face-to-face pathway, if you suspect that your child may have a disability, please contact your child’s school to share your concerns. 

For children participating in Huntsville Virtual Academy, please contact Donna Harbin at 256-428-6913.

My child was in the process of referral for special education and/or gifted services when schools closed. What happens now?

The referral process is still in process and evaluations will continue.  We are working currently to assess students so that the eligibility meeting may be held in a timely manner and special education services, if warranted, are not delayed.  You will be contacted by a psychometrist (a person who will perform the evaluations and assessments) to arrange a time to work with your child.

How will IEP meetings be held during this time? How do I request an IEP meeting?

To reduce the risk of exposure to illness, HCS is currently limiting access to essential personnel only in all buildings.  Meetings will continue to be held virtually or by phone as IEP meetings were held in the spring; however, for parents requesting a face-to-face conference, please contact your child’s IEP case manager or special education teacher or school administrator to request the meeting be held on site. 

To request a meeting, virtual or face-to-face, please contact your child’s special education teacher/case manager at their school.

Will students in self-contained classrooms or those with sensory deficits be required to wear face covering/masks at school?

All students and personnel in HCS schools or buildings will be required to wear face coverings as part of the protective protocol as HCS is aligning with the recommendations of ADPH and the CDC; however, we understand that for students with special needs, this may be difficult and cause stress and frustration.  We will encourage all students to wear a face covering to the greatest extent possible and will use activities and lessons that condition students to wearing them for extended periods of time during the day.  HCS staff will be trained on protocol to clean surfaces, classrooms, etc. to reduce exposure to illness and will be flexible as we help our students to understand the need for face coverings during this time.

How will students with IEPs receive services if they are participating in HVA?

Like students participating in the traditional, face-to-face pathway, students in HVA will continue to receive services from a special education teacher.  This will include support for general education courses as well as small group/individualized assistance to meet students’ individualized needs per their IEP.  For related services, the IEP team may reconvene to discuss the delivery of services, which may be face-to-face or virtual, depending on the needs of the child.  For students who receive instruction in a resource classroom for instruction on the Alabama Alternate Standards, this instruction will continue to be provided using the Unique Learning System/News 2 You platform that our students are accustomed to using to meet the AAS standards.  Students who utilize assistive technology will have access to needed devices in the home to continue use of the device and progression of skills needed just as they would if they were receiving their instruction in the traditional classroom.

My child is in a self-contained classroom but goes into the general education classroom for part of the day. Will he/she still be able to participate with his/her peers outside of the special education classroom?

We will continue to follow the IEP to provide services for students receiving specially designed instruction and related services.  If you are concerned about your child being exposed to health risks while at school, please contact your child’s special education case manager and request the IEP team meet to discuss concerns and amending services.  HCS is considering many options to ensure that we are providing inclusive services and access to students’ non-disabled peers in a safe environment.

My child receives most of their instruction in the self-contained/resource room. Is HVA appropriate for my child?

Yes!  HVA will be staffed with general education and special education teachers who are trained to deliver content and instruction virtually for all students.  The special education teachers will be utilizing the curriculum that matches the course of study standards that are appropriate for each student.  In addition, all related services will continue to be provided for all students who are eligible for SPE services. 

My child has a health plan. How will this be addressed with their IEP?

All health plans will be reviewed at the beginning of the year by school personnel and IEP meetings may be reconvened if the school or parent have concerns.  Student health issues that are addressed in the IEP may be amended, as needed, to meet individualized needs of students.

My child needs physical adult support during the day at school. What steps are you taking to minimize exposure to illness?

For students who need adult assistance with mobility, during meal/snack times, for assistance with clothing, in the restroom, etc., staff will strategically schedule assistance from a limited number of adults in order to minimize risks.  When possible, we will utilize a one adult to one student ratio.

Will HCS continue to utilize instructional assistants to meet the needs of students receiving special education services both virtually or during times of school closure/remote learning for students on the traditional pathway?

Students will continue to receive all services documented in the IEP on both traditional and virtual pathways, which may include support from instructional assistants if data has indicated that need.  Instructional assistants will provide instructional support that is directed by the special education teacher.  Any concerns or questions during this time should be communicated with your child’s teacher, not the instructional assistant, to ensure that services and resources are being addressed.

What will the District do for students that need to be able to see their teacher/therapist’s mouth for instruction or therapy? A mask covers the mouth, so this will make things difficult for many children.

HCS has ordered clear face shields as well as protective Plexiglass shields for teachers and therapists that must deliver a service or instruction where students will need to clearly see the mouth/lips.  This includes children who are hearing impaired, require speech therapy, or need instruction that requires being able to see the instructor’s mouth/lips.

Gifted & Talented Education (GATE)
Will HVA have GATE services?

Yes, HVA will provide GATE services to identified students via Schoology. These services will be aligned with those offered in traditional school with an emphasis on alternate, accelerated activities in ELA and Math. Teachers assigned to support the HVA caseload will meet virtually with students to support completion of alternate, accelerated assignments.

How often will my child receive GATE services in HVA versus traditional learning?

Gifted identified students will receive an equivalent number of alternate activities to follow state guidelines of three hours per week whether attending school traditionally or virtually. Gifted teachers will “push in” to traditional classrooms and meet virtually with HVA students to support students completing alternate, accelerated activities. Activities designed to build skills in creativity will be offered virtually.

Can my child be tested for GATE if attending HVA?

Yes, students attending HVA can be referred and tested. Assessments will be administered virtually and at Apollo Academy at 2800 Poplar Avenue.

My child is in second grade. How will the universal screening for GATE services be completed at HVA?

All second-grade child find assessments for GATE services will be administered virtually and at Apollo Academy at 2800 Poplar Avenue.

My child’s assessments for GATE services were in progress last year. How will this be completed?

HCS will resume, complete, and notify students (whose referrals were in progress on March 16, 2020) during the month of August with a goal to complete all 2019/2020 gifted referrals by Labor Day, 2020.

Can my child attend HVA but go to in-person GATE at our neighborhood school?

Since the HVA students are assigned to the different caseload of the HVA gifted teacher, they can’t attend in-person GATE at their neighborhood school. They will attend the HVA GATE teacher’s classes virtually.

Which teacher will my child have for GATE in HVA?

Teachers across HCS, whose caseloads are smaller, will assume the HVA gifted caseload.

What will be taught in HVA GATE?

ELA, Math, and Creativity.

In traditional school, will the GATE teacher go into the regular classroom like Art and Music teachers?

GATE teachers will go to the regular classrooms to support students completing alternate activities assigned by the GATE teacher.

What Talent Development options will be offered to gifted and advanced students this year?

Gifted teachers will offer district online classes or “enrichment clusters, early finisher packets, centers, and will consult with teachers to address challenging gifted and advanced students.

How will high flyers and gifted students be challenged if they attend classes via HVA?

HVA gifted students and advanced learners will have access to the districtwide enrichment clusters in addition to alternate, accelerated activities offered by the HVA GATE teachers. In addition, the HVA GATE teacher is available as a consultant to the HVA teachers to assist with challenging options for students.

English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
How will EL or multilingual students receive services with traditional and virtual learning options?

ESOL teachers will work with traditional and virtual teachers to review student’s language assessment and formative data to discuss strategies that will assist student with development of listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills as well as instructional approaches to support access to and mastery of academic standards. Students identified as English learners will have an EL Plan to assist the general education teacher with planning, differentiation, and grading.

How will EL or multilingual students be identified if they are not on campus?

Identification of new English learners (EL) Kindergarten through Grade 12 will continue with review of Home Language Survey and state screening tools. If ESOL teacher cannot complete screening due to health conditions in the school, they will apply the “Provisional Identification Plan” provided by State Dept. of Education.

What is the role of the ESOL teacher?

The ESOL teacher’s responsibilities include identification and screening of ELs, parent notification of EL status, facilitating development of EL Plans, monitoring Former ELs, collaborating and consulting with classroom teachers, assisting with parent engagement activities specific to families of multilingual learners, maintaining accurate screening records and overall EL documentation.

Scheduling for supplemental English language development (ELD) during pandemic may be flexible and adjusted based on current health conditions. ESOL teachers will use assessment data and teacher input to prioritize small group instruction for listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In addition, ESOL teachers will work with students on developing self-advocacy so that they can communicate their needs with their subject area teachers.

How can I request an interpreter?

The ESOL department will continue to assist with language access and information to multilingual parents. If your school staff cannot assist you, please contact for Spanish support. Contact or 256-929-5655 for other languages.

Magnet Programs
What virtual options are available for magnet students?

Magnet students will be able to choose from the HCS Learning Frameworks (traditional or virtual) for the 2020-2021 school year.

Can my student participate in the virtual learning framework and still maintain their magnet status?

Yes, magnet students are able to participate in all the HCS Learning Frameworks and still remain a magnet student.

How will magnet courses be delivered virtually?

Each magnet program will provide the unique magnet courses virtually for the student who chooses the virtual framework.

How will I know how the virtual course delivery will look for my magnet student?


Each magnet program will have a detailed course delivery plan posted that will provide details on virtual course delivery and virtual course requirements.

Who will teach the magnet courses (dance, engineering, IB, visual arts, STEM, gifted supportive classes, theatre, etc.)

Virtual magnet courses will be taught by magnet teachers.

What magnet courses will be available virtually?


Based on student course selection, any magnet course in which a student is registered will be available virtually.

Which learning framework will magnet PreK students be able to participate in?

This information will be provided by the office of School Readiness.  Please contact

How will college courses be delivered for students participating in the College Academy Program?
UAH college courses for College Academy students will be delivered virtually for all students participating in either the Traditional or Virtual Framework.  For additional information please contact the Dean of College Academy (
Where do students register to participate in the virtual learning framework?


  • Magnet students will register using the HVA page of the HCS website to indicate their desire to participate in the virtual setting.
  • For students who participate in a magnet program, the virtual registration will be sent to each magnet program contact (The Principal) and a school contact will touch base with the parent and/or student to develop the student’s magnet virtual course schedule.
What options are available for Pre-K families?

Pre-K families are offered traditional learning.  Assuming health conditions permit, students will be at school every day within the traditional framework. However, the district is prepared to implement a possible staggered schedule or remote learning if health conditions warrant.

Pre-K students do not have an option to enroll in the Huntsville Virtual Academy.

Pre-K families are offered traditional learning.  Assuming health conditions permit, students will be at school every day within the traditional framework. However, the district is prepared to implement a possible staggered schedule or remote learning if health conditions warrant.

Pre-K students do not have an option to enroll in the Huntsville Virtual Academy.

When is the first day of school for Pre-K?
  • Staggered Start – August 19 & 20, 2020
    • Fifty percent (50%) of students will report on each day.
    • *Staggered start allows students an opportunity to adjust to the classroom in a small setting for the first week of school. 
  • All Pre-K students will report on Friday, August 21st.
What is “Meet the Teacher Day”?

Meet the Teacher will take place on August 17 & 18, 2020. Teachers will notify parents of the date and time they are scheduled to attend. It is important that students and parents have an opportunity to become acquainted with the teacher and new school environment prior to the first full day of school.  

Currently, we plan to hold Meet the Teacher virtually.  Your child’s teacher will contact you to schedule your child’s individual meeting time.

Will my child have to wear a face covering on campus?

Pre-K students will not be required to wear a face covering at this time. All HCS staff members will be required to wear a face covering.

What learning platforms will be used if remote learning is required?

Pre-K will use the learning management system Schoology to share lessons and curriculum during remote learning times.

Where can I find my child’s Pre-K supply list?

The supply list will be posted on the HCS School Readiness website and emailed to parents by individual teachers.  In the event remote learning is required, instructional supply bags will be distributed.

Will the district provide devices for Pre-K students?

In the event remote learning is required, the district will provide I-pads on an as needed basis to students.

What safety precautions is the district taking to promote safe and healthy Pre-K environment?
  • Cleaning and disinfecting will occur frequently.
  • Social distancing will be practiced to the greatest extent possible.
  • Individual Pre-K instructional supplies will be provided and sanitized throughout the day.
  • Pre-K student drop off and pick up will occur in a separate car rider line and parents will sign students in using an app.
Strategy & Innovation; Assessment & Accountability
Where will Student Information (attendance, grades, discipline) be found during the 2020-21 school year?

Parents will continue to view student information (attendance, grades, discipline) via the INOW Parent Portal.

How will assessments be administered during the 2020-21 school year?
  • Students will take all district-level assessments online. Assessments include STAR 360 Reading, STAR 360 Math, and Scantron.
  • Currently, the ASLDE requires students to take State-level assessments in-person in a proctored environment. Some assessments may be online but must still occur in a proctored setting.

These policies will continue to be reviewed and updated. The ALSDE assessments include the following:

    • ACT WorkKeys (Grade 12)
    • ACT Test (Grade 11)
    • PreACT Test (Grade 10)
    • ACAP (Grades 2-8)
    • ACCESS for ELLs & Alternate ACCESS for ELLs
    • Alabama Alternate Assessment (Grades 2-11)
Student Welfare & Social Services
If a student is considered full-virtual, will observance of his or her religious beliefs be an excused absence?

Yes, if the parent/guardian submits a written request specifying the denomination and the religious observance.

If a student is considered full-virtual, will a doctor's excuse be considered an excused absence?

Yes, a doctor’s excuse will be considered excused under the current attendance policy and guidelines of the district.

Would families be considered truant should they feel uncomfortable sending their children to school when it opens?

No, the district offers a virtual option to the traditional setting. The district has provided an open window to apply for the virtual option. However, if that window of opportunity is missed the district will work with the family in pursuing the best educational option for the student.

How will the bus routes change from last school year?

There will be no specific changes to the bus routes due to COVID-19.  As we do every school year, we will start the year with the same set of routes we used in the last school year, adding and removing stops to reflect ridership.  If HCS moves to a staggered schedule, we will run every route every day, adjusting stop times based upon which students are riding each day.

Will bus capacity be adjusted to allow for distance between students on the bus?

Distance between students on the bus is impacted by actual ridership. Our initial capacity rubric is one child pers seat, with students who co-habitate (such as a brother and a sister) sitting two to a seat. This rubric will adjust as necessary to satisfy transportation requirements. It will not be feasible to add any buses to the fleet at the start of the school year.

Will face coverings be required on school buses, and what happens if a student attempts to board the bus without a face covering?

Face coverings are required for students, drivers, and monitors.  If a student attempts to board the bus without a face covering, the driver will provide the student with a disposable mask to don before proceeding to a seat. The driver will report the fact the student boarded without a face covering to the school principal.

Facilities Services
What are the procedures for ensuring clean classrooms and buildings?

The HCS Reset Plan delineates daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks for the custodians. Principals and the Facilities Services leadership team work together to ensure task completion to standard. In addition to regular cleaning, each school will be equipped with a disinfectant sprayer that can be used both proactively and in response to a need for heightened sanitation.

What are individual teachers provided to enable regular intermittent cleaning throughout the day?

Each classroom is provided with hand sanitizer, latex gloves, and paper towels for regular intermittent cleaning throughout the day. Custodians check supply levels daily in each classroom, replenishing as necessary.

What are the response cleaning procedures when a school is closed due to a COVID-19 exposure?

When directed, the school building will be closed, and a custodial team will clean and disinfect the entire building. The length of time the school will be closed will depend on the details of the situation, and in consultation with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Maintenance, Construction, & Security
How is air quality in the classrooms monitored?

HVAC unit filters are changed on a regular schedule, and anti-microbial filters are used.

What physical shields will there be in place to inhibit the spread of germs?

Our Maintenance Department is making a variety of clear shields for desks, tables, and counters, using a variety of materials. Larger shields, made from clear, flexible plastic sheets and plastic piping, are also being made for partitioning rooms. These are being distributed to schools for front offices, meeting spaces, and classrooms. While we do not plan to have a shield on every student desks, teachers will have access to shields for use in individual instruction where appropriate social distancing is not possible.

Will there be School Resource Officers in the schools?

Yes. The Huntsville Police Department will deploy School Resource Officers in accordance with the agreement between the City of Huntsville and HCS.

Back to top