Students are beginning to return to school following the holiday break and Tallassee City Schools are blending traditional in-classroom learning with virtual learning in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

"Currently we are in the A/B rotation of school after the holidays," Dr. Nolin said. "We decided to do that, collectively, because it allows us to social distance. We can actually get that six feet of separation between students and staff through that model."

Like school systems across the nation, there are some confirmed cases of COVID-19 but isolating those cases and social distancing is slowing the curve of positive cases.

"We do have some positive cases in the school system, both teachers and students, but with the A/B schedule, we are able to social distance so we don't that mass exodus of students and teachers going out as exposures," dr. Nolin said.

Stopping the spread of the virus is the most valuable measure right now.

"That's the biggest thing, and the hardest thing to deal with, is one student possibly exposing 10, 12, 15, or 20 students at a time, and having to send all those students home," he said.

Rotating schedules seems to be the best-suited option that allows for in-person learning with proper social distancing in place.

"The A/B schedule, it does work. We actually extended it through the 22nd of January. We are hoping that the Christmas and holiday spike, that we can get through that. We did experience such after the Thanksgiving holiday. So, we anticipated that that would happen again. Hopefully with the compilation of the A/B schedule, some of the vaccines getting dispensed locally, that collectively we will be able to continue and have school without having to go totally virtual," Dr. Nolin said.

After reading an article about Tallapoosa County teachers receiving vaccinations through local hospitals, Dr. Nolin reached out to administrative staff at Community Hospital to see if that was an option they could consider.

"That would significantly help to get many of our staff vaccinated and protected. Just holistically that would help the system if we can get that," he said.

With the school year at the midway point, Dr. Nolin is focused on the coming months.

"Hopefully, we will be able to manage with the A/B schedule," he said. "We always have those three models. Face-to-face, or we can go into the A/B rotation- which is manageable- and also the full virtual, if necessary. I anticipate that until the staff gets vaccinated, and the mass vaccinations happen, collectively, this is what we will continue to do."

The fight against the spread of COVID-19 is a daily battle.

"Evaluate data on the ground," Dr. Nolin said. "I look at the numbers daily. Our staff and students, who's been exposed, who's positive, and things like that. Then we make the calls accordingly. I anticipate that through June the 4th, which is our graduation date, that we'll keep doing this."

Tallassee City Schools are also moving forward with the new high school project. Local officials and community members will gather for a groundbreaking ceremony to honor the event, but it will be less attended due to COVID-19.

"It will be a very trimmed down ceremony. Basically, we will gather, those that have been invited, members of the city council, the mayor, Commissioner Mack Daugherty, and other community members have been invited. We'll just take a brief picture to commemorate and celebrate the groundbreaking, the official start of our building project," Dr. Nolin said.

While the groundbreaking for the new high school project is set for Tuesday, Jan. 19, work actually began in November 2020 and is proceeding well.

"To date, it has progressed very well. We have had some rain in the past few days. We aren't terribly off schedule but those kinds of things are built into the project's scope. We have the pad prepared and they are ready to dig footers for the auditorium. As soon as it dries out, you will actually see the excavation," Dr. Nolin said.