Local business helps employees as schools in Madison County prepare for virtual start
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Most of the time, James Gatewood goes by his official title: the Senior Director of Information Technology for Davidson Technologies.

However, when the pandemic hit back in March, he had to take on a new job title at home: teacher.

James Gatewood working in his office at Davidson Technologies in Huntsville. The company said it's using a liberal telework policy to help its employees manage the coronavirus pandemic.
James Gatewood working in his office at Davidson Technologies in Huntsville. The company said it's using a liberal telework policy to help its employees manage the coronavirus pandemic.

"Helping with calculus work while doing your day job is a very hard job to do," Gatewood said.

Since all of the schools across Madison County will be starting the first nine weeks of school online, Gatewood is hoping his kids, senior Kaliah and sophomore Kameron, are able to adapt well to the new digital environment.

"Just hoping that they understand what new education tools will be coming out, new curriculums. Just hoping they can adapt to that," Gatewood said.

With his and other employees' children in a similar predicament, some companies like Davidson Technologies are doing what they can to adapt.

Meredith Payne, the senior director of enterprise marketing, said they are doing everything they can to keep their employees, and their families, safe during the pandemic and the start of school.

"It's that same battle rhythm that we've been going at since March, is that Davidson has a liberal telework agreement with our employees," Payne said.

In addition to letting many work from home, Payne said they're also taking steps to protect those who still come into the office. There are multiple hand sanitizing stations and boxes of gloves around the building and social distancing guidelines are in place.

Part of distancing includes holding any meeting with 10 or more people in their large meeting room on the west side of the campus.

As the school year draws closer, Gatewood said his family decided that their kids would go back to the classroom if and when they reopen. However, with his son playing football for Jemison High School, he does have some lingering concerns.

"I am concerned with how that's supposed to work in the event that he's supposed to be at home for the first nine weeks. So I don't know. I just hope that he takes care of himself, that coaches and officials and the board just understands how that level of safety should go and whether or not they still choose to go forward with it," Gatewood said.

As for his job, Gatewood said he's grateful to have the flexibility to work from home, should the need arise.

"It is a perk that you can never explain. Being able to still, not have to worry about if you can get your job done while making sure that your kids are still staying in line for what they need to do from an education standpoint, you can't trade that," Gatewood said.

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