Currently, Gordon County Schools (GCS) is busy planning for a safe reopening of schools on August 12. Our intent is to welcome back all students, Pre-K through 12th grade, on a traditional, in-person Monday through Friday schedule, with prevention protocols in place that follow health and safety guidelines outlined by the Department of Public Health and CDC. Protocols and procedures for opening may change as we continue to receive information from state and local officials and monitor data on the community spread of COVID-19 in our area.
WHAT DOES AN IN-PERSON RETURN TO SCHOOL LOOK LIKE FOR GORDON COUNTY SCHOOLS?
Recently, the Georgia Department of Education released a document entitled “Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools”, which outlines guidance for reopening schools based upon three levels of spread for the virus – green indicates little to no spread, yellow is minimal to moderate spread, and red is substantial spread. Community spread levels will be determined by Department of Public Health officials and will be based upon our community’s specific data. For further information and details of this guidance, please visit https://www.georgiainsights.com/recovery.html
When the GCS community is in the green or yellow levels, Gordon County Schools plans to operate on a traditional schedule with modifications for health and safety, including limiting visitors to schools, providing additional distancing to the extent feasible and practical, practicing heightened cleaning protocols, and making hand sanitizer available. Upon returning to school, face coverings/masks may be worn but are not required at this time. Additionally, bus transportation will be offered for students attending school in-person, and the school system will provide information regarding health and safety when riding the bus. The After School Program will also be offered at all of our elementary schools, with protocols for prevention in place. School meals (breakfast and lunch) will be offered to students while attending school for in-person instruction.
WHAT IF THERE IS A RESURGENCE OF COVID-19 ONCE SCHOOL STARTS BACK?
The in-person instructional setting may require modifications at certain points throughout the year if there is a resurgence of the virus based on Department of Public Health and CDC information. This could be on a school-by-school basis or system-wide, if the number of cases rises to a level that affects school operations.
Dependent upon the severity of the spread, there may be a need for a temporary modified schedule to limit the number of students on campus each day. If this becomes necessary, it would affect grades 6 – 12 and allow for students to receive intermittent face-to-face instruction, while significantly reducing the number of students in classrooms and allowing more social distancing. Pre-K through 5th grade should be on campus every day, unless the GCS community enters a substantial spread situation (red) that would require school closure for all. However, under these circumstances, elementary students will see additional modifications in the school building to allow for fewer transitions and more social distancing among students.
WHAT IF MY FAMILY DECIDES THE IN-PERSON OPTION IS NOT BEST FOR US AT THIS TIME?
Because we realize each family will face different concerns and challenges when school resumes on August 12, GCS also plans to offer a full-time, at-home virtual option for the 2020-21 school year. Students will be provided with a school-system iPad. However, this option requires the student to have consistent, reliable access to the internet. GCS is exploring a variety of models for full-time virtual learning. The number of students requesting full-time virtual school at different grade levels will determine which model is chosen. The model developed and implemented may be a combination of a virtual platform with GCS teacher support or solely a virtual platform. Families should also understand that the choice to pursue at-home virtual learning requires a commitment to the program for a specified amount of time. Elementary students will have the option to return to in-person instruction after completing 9 weeks of full-time at-home learning, and middle and high school may return after one semester. Please note that gifted and Advanced Placement courses may not be offered virtually, and students who wish to participate in extracurricular activities/athletics should not choose the virtual at-home learning option.
The new version of virtual at-home learning will be refined from what families experienced during our recent school closures. If the virtual at-home option is chosen, attendance and student online engagement will be recorded, assignments will be graded, and grading practices appropriate for a full-time virtual classroom will be utilized. Additionally, parents/guardians and students who choose this option will be required to participate in a virtual school orientation session.
HOW DO I ENROLL MY CHILD IN FULL-TIME AT-HOME VIRTUAL LEARNING THROUGH GORDON COUNTY SCHOOLS?
Before selecting the at-home virtual option, families should consider the child’s study habits and motivation, learning support at home, and other factors that may impact his or her success with virtual learning. For continued planning, GCS is asking families to state their intent regarding enrollment in at-home virtual learning for the coming school year. A link to apply for at-home virtual learning will be sent to GCS families and posted to our website on July 6. Any currently enrolled student who has not indicated intent to participate in the at-home virtual learning option by noon on July 13 will be considered a traditionally-enrolled student who plans to attend school in-person beginning August 12.
We appreciate your support and are looking forward to continuing our service to you and your family in the coming school year.