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Here’s what we know about reopening plans for Southeast Georgia schools

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Many districts are rolling out plans under Georgia’s Path to Recovering for K-thru-12 schools, which are not mandated or state required.

Local districts have the authority and flexibility to meet their individual needs, that’s the guidance from the Georgia Department of Education and the Department of Public Health.

It focuses on “navigating the academic, social, and emotional effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and employees” with the focus on practicing prevention, transporting students, entering buildings, serving meals, transitioning between classes and protecting vulnerable populations.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the state Board of Education might consider a proposal at its Thursday meeting to push school start dates statewide to Sept. 8. School districts are still free to choose their own start dates.

The Georgia Department of Education and Department of Public Health have updated guidance on how to respond if a student or school staff member have had direct exposure to the virus and if they’re showing any symptoms. For more information, click here.

School districts in Southeast Georgia have finalized plans for resuming school during the 2020-2021 year.

News4Jax is detailing those plans below. This article will be updated as new information becomes available.

NOTE: All plans mentioned on this list are subject to change

Glynn County

The Glynn County Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a delayed start to the school year. The 2020-2021 school year will begin on Thursday, Aug. 20, rather than the original start date scheduled Tuesday, Aug. 11, to give “students, staff and families time to prepare for the upcoming year.”

The new calendar includes 11 days of training for teachers.

Superintendent Dr. Scott Spence told News4Jax that ALL teachers will be trained to teach in a virtual setting just in case schools have to move to distance learning.

“We will have professional learning for our new website, our instructional model, virtual and distance learning, common planning, and Google Classroom,” Spence said. “These are in addition to our normal professional learning sessions that we have at the beginning of each year.”

The revised calendar also includes a teacher workday on Tuesday, Nov. 3 (General Election Day). Several Glynn County schools are used for polling locations.

The school year will conclude in Glynn County on Thursday, May 27, 2021. Short breaks in October, February and March for teacher workdays and professional development, as well as a full-week break in November for the Thanksgiving holiday and full-week break in April for Spring Break will remain.

On July 7, the Glynn County School District rolled out its return to school framework for the 2020-2021 year. There are three levels of guidance based on what the district calls “level of spread,” which is determined by state and local health officials.

The three levels include: Low/no spread, minimal/moderate spread and substantial spread. According to the district, it plans to operate under the minimal/moderate spread category when school is back in session. A decision to move into operating under substantial spread would be made in conjunction with the Department of Public Health. (Click here to learn more about the three levels of spread)

“We will work with our local, district, and state health departments to make that decision,” Spence told News4Jax. “Our teachers will be provided with professional learning and will plan in such a manner that will allow us to move between face-to-face and distance learning in an efficient manner.”

In the minimal/moderate spread category, the school system has the authority and flexibility to close school buildings and utilize remote learning as needed. Preference would be given to remaining open with enhanced social distancing measures. Field trips would be eliminated.

For Glynn County, preventative measures start at home. Parents will have to take their child’s temperature daily and provide hand sanitizer for them. If students or staff have COVID-19 symptoms, test positive or have had close contact with someone with the virus, they MUST stay home.

Glynn Schools said all staff may be required to wear masks, and students are strongly encouraged to wear one. Spence said the district’s Human Resources Department has developed consistent methods to choose teachers for virtual learning.

High-touch areas will be cleaned and disinfected regularly. There will be entrance and exit procedures. Nonessential visitors will have limited access to entering the school. For recess, there will be staggered use of the playground

For transportation, bus drivers and riders will wear face coverings, buses will be cleaned regularly and hand santizer will be provided as supplies allow.

When it comes to serving meals, Glynn schools says Grab-N-Go breakfast will be served in the classroom. Meals will be simplified to include hot, pre-plated meals in the cafeteria. There will be alternate meal schedules to stagger class visits inside the lunchroom -- while others will eat in their classrooms

Bottle refill stations will be installed. There will be a weekly supply of meals available for virtual learning students.

Open houses will take place virtually. And for children who are hearing impaired, face shields will be provided for teachers.

Parents who opted for online learning had to complete a Virtual Learning Registration for each student by July 12. Spence said of the 13,000 students enrolled in Glynn County, about 2,600 have chosen the online option for learning.

The virtual option means you are committing to at least nine weeks of at-home learning for elementary and middle school students or one semester for high school students. The district notes that the demands of an online course are equal to or exceed the traditional face-to-face course.

For those learning online, daily lessons will be posted on teacher sites and Google classrooms. Progress, attendance and grades will be posted online and social-emotional and mental health resources will be made available.

Parents and guardians will be required to participate in a meeting with school administrators to discuss teacher and student learning expectations, including attendance, assignments, grading, and diagnostic assessments.

“We are working very hard to keep up with all the changes,” Spence said. “We are going to do our very best to make sure all of our students are afforded the best possible education that we can provide.”

Glynn Schools said since the pandemic is evolving every day -- its action plans could be adjusted at any time. It adds it is NOT offering a hybrid model for students.

Camden County

(UPDATE 7/31)

Due to the threat of Hurricane Isaias, Camden County Schools says it is delaying its school start date until Aug. 4, a day after it was originally scheduled to begin.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS

The results of a parent survey show the majority want traditional classroom learning.

The Camden County Schools System Steering Committee -- made up of teachers, parents and community leaders -- worked with the district to develop the reopening plan.

For the traditional learning plan, there were will be enhanced safety protocols and sanitation practices in place in all schools and district buildings.

Deep cleanings will continue throughout the summer and periodically on school holidays and weekends when possible. High-touch surfaces and water systems will be cleaned regularly and classroom cleaning supplies will be provided. Ventilation systems will e checked regularly and buses will be aired out when not in use and inspected for cleanliness.

The use of face masks/coverings is optional but strongly encouraged. Face masks/coverings must be appropriate for the learning environment and will need to be provided by parents. Masks will be provided for the use of all school employees and will be made available to any student unable to provide one on their own. Face shields will be provided to employees who request one due to underlying health conditions.

Visitors will be limited to the front office areas only.

Parents are asked to take their child’s temperature before sending them to school and faculty and staff are asked to check their own temperatures before reporting to work. Temperature screenings will not be done at school unless a child reports feeling unwell.

Bus drivers will be given face shields, face masks, sanitizing supplies and gloves and buses will be clean after morning and even routes. Hand sanitizer will be available to all students, and students are encouraged but not required to wear masks/face coverings. Parents who can drive their children to school or allow their student to walk or bike to school are asked to do so to help decrease the population density on buses.

In the cafeterias, students will be given repacked meals or will be served by staff. An alternative to lunch payment pin pads will be provided and online payments using the SchoolBucks online system are strongly encouraged to avoid cash transactions.

Sporting events and practices will follow the guidelines from the Georgia High School Association and no field trips, pep rallies or assemblies will be allowed.

Athletic and fine arts practices, breakfast and lunch service and other required large gatherings will be adjusted as needed.

Students and staff who feel ill or experience COVID-19 like symptoms will follow protocols in place at the schools, including waiting in an isolation room for parent pick-up. If a student or employee tests positive for the COVID-19 virus, school employees are not allowed to contact trace or provide notification per the Department of Health. To ensure compliance with HIPPA law, DPH will handle all tracing and notification if someone tests positive.

Practical accommodations for children, teachers/staff, and families at higher risk for severe illness will be considered to meet their needs.

The addition of a school social worker for the 2020-2021 school year will allow a greater opportunity to address the social-emotional needs of students who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 or are experiencing increased stress or anxiety.

For more details or a printable version of the plan, click here.

The open house times on July 31 will be based on the student’s school and last name. For details, click here.

Virtual Learning Option

Camden County School System students must apply for virtual learning through Camden County Schools by completing an application. Camden County School System’s application for virtual learning will be available at each school and online. Please visit the CCS website at www.camden.k12.ga.us to learn more about this service and to view and/or complete the application. Please note, students participating in the virtual learning program will not be allowed to participate in any extracurricular activities, including but not limited to, school clubs, athletics, band, drama events, chorus concerts, and CTAE competitions. The deadline for completing the virtual learning application is Friday, July 24 at 4 p.m.

The answers to many frequently asked questions are now available on the Camden County School’s website.

Brantley County

Brantley County School System said has pushed back the start of school to Thursday, Aug. 6, for traditional school with increased safety measures.

In addition to traditional, face to face instruction, the Brantley County School System will also provide a virtual learning option for students in PreK-12 whose guardians feel this is the right choice for their child during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The virtual learning option will require a significant commitment from students and parents/guardians, as it will be a full semester commitment for high school students and a nine-week commitment for students in PreK-8. The virtual learning experience will NOT be the same as the distance learning experience this past spring. Attendance, grading, instructional expectations, and accountability will be consistent for students participating in traditional face to face instruction or virtual learning.

In order to adequately prepare for the start of school, we will need a parent/guardian of every student who chooses to participate in virtual learning to register their child(ren) at the following link by Wednesday, July 22nd: https://bit.ly/3eqWFEj

The district’s reopening plans have been developed with guidance from the Governor’s Office, GA Department of Education, GA Department of Health, CDC, local physicians, and feedback from parent and employee surveys. These plans are flexible and are subject to change should new guidance become available or the community spread of COVID 19 increases for our area. For the latest information, you can go to our COVID-19 information webpage: https://www.brantley.k12.ga.us/bcschools/coronavirusinfo.

Below you will find some details of Brantley’s School Reopening Plans. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list (For more details, click here):

Brantley says in the cafeteria, students may eat in the classroom on a rotation basis to keep fewer students in the cafeteria. PreK-8 will eat with their class group and students in 9th-12th are encouraged to eat with the same group each day. Tables will be thoroughly cleaned after each group leaves.

There will be NO field trips for the first nine weeks of school.

On the first day of school on Aug. 6, Brantley schools is encouraging parents to drop off their kids and let them walk to class. But if a parent chooses to walk their PreK-3rd grade student to class, the time has been extending from 7:35 a.m. to 9 a.m. to help with crowding in the halls only on the first day. Parents are encouraged to wear masks. Fourth-12th graders must be at school by 7:55 a.m.

Sporting events and practices will follow the guidelines from the Georgia High School Association and no pep rallies or assemblies will be allowed.

For open house, two adults per student will be allowed to attend, and your timing will depend on the school, grade, name and student’s birthday.

Dates:

  • Brantley County High School, Thursday, July 30
  • Brantley County Middle School, Thursday, July 30
  • Waynesville and Nahunta Primary, Friday, July 31
  • Atkinson, Hoboken and Nahunta Elementary, Friday, July 31

For specifics of your open house time based on your last name, click here.

Schools will stagger recess and outdoor play.

Masks are encouraged but not mandated. Hand sanitizer will be provided throughout the school. Water fountains will be turned off and students are encouraged to bring their own water bottles.

For transportation, students from the same household will be seated together and there will be assigned seats. Buses will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected daily. Students are strongly encouraged to wear face masks on buses. Students will be seated together based on who is wearing masks. Students not wearing masks will seat near each other and those wearing masks will be grouped together.

If there’s a recommendation for very small class sizes, Brantley says those in traditional learning will transition to a hybrid schedule of two days of classes and three days online.

The detailed guidelines for when students/employees can return to school/work after a “close contact” exposure to COVID-19 or a diagnosis of COVID-19 are explained HERE in the Screening and Responding to COVID-19 in K-12 Schools Chart from the GA Department of Health and GA Department of Education. The Department of Health will be working with the school system to determine who is considered a “close contact” when a student or employee is diagnosed with COVID-19.

Ware County

Ware County plans to reopen to students on Aug. 17. For those returning to in-person schooling, masks will be encouraged but not required. One mask or shield will be provided for each student.

Families will have a choice of a traditional five-day a week face-to-face schedule or a digital learning instructional model where students will be taught online by a Ware County Schools certified teacher, the district said.

Masks will be required for students riding buses, and all students will have an assigned seat on their bus.

Staff members will self-monitor temperature and symptoms daily before reporting to work and will record their temperature when signing in to work daily. Staff members who are sick must stay home.

When appropriate and weather permitting, students and staff will transition outside the school building more frequently.

Drinking fountains will be turned off. Water will be available at filling stations. Students should bring their own water bottle to school. Water bottles must be clear so the bottle contents are visible.

For more on the specifics of Ware’s reopening plan, click here.

Ware posted a video announcement about the reopening plan from Superintendent Bert Smith:

On July 17, the district sent out a questionnaire to parents asking whether they want their child to return to a classroom. Parents had to make their decision by July 23.

The district said its primary means of sharing information will be through the Thrillshare call-out system and the school’s website.

Charlton County

Charlton County’s plan for reopening schools has been updated with the start date for in-person learning now Aug. 10.

The decision for the delay was based on many factors, the district said, including feedback from teachers and staff members. The additional pre-planning time will be used for professional learning as the district prepares for students returning in traditional in-person learning and virtual learning.

Updated Open House events and student schedules will be released next week. All currently scheduled breaks (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring) will remain as listed in the approved 2020-2021 school calendar.

The district has released plans for both traditional learning and virtual learning.

When it comes to learning at school, staff and students will not be required to wear masks. Parents must provide face masks for students who elect to wear them. The district said a supply of masks might be available from the state.

Deep cleaning is planned weekly and hand sanitizer will be provided for students. The district said attempts will be made to reduce the number of students per bus. Staggered lunch schedules may be used to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria.

Staff members will be evaluated daily for COVID-19 symptoms.

If parents are not ready to return to in-person learning, an application will be required and parents must agree for their children to learn from home for a whole semester.

The deadline to enroll for virtual learning was July 16.


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