By Tia Lynn Ivey
Schools are slated to reopen on Aug. 3, but school officials are scrambling to adopt new policies and methods to ensure students and families remain safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Some considerations include remote learning options for students, wearing face masks, rigorous cleaning and disinfectant routines, ample hand sanitizer availability for students, teachers and staff. The state is recommending schools participate in contact tracing efforts, posting signs throughout the school explaining how to stop the spread of COVID-19, and establish a protocol for any students or teachers who exhibit symptoms. According to Superintendent of Morgan County Schools Dr. James Woodard, school leaders are in the process of deciding how school will function this fall.
“The Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Department of Public Health released a document entitled Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools. “This plan provides guidance regarding reopening school this fall,” said Woodard. “As we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year, we will continue to evaluate how to best meet the individual learning needs of all our students. This will include looking at ways to better serve students directly and remotely. We will maintain close communication with local and state health agencies in making decisions regarding reopening school.”
The guidance prescribed is not mandated or required by the State of Georgia. Depending on the level of “community spread” of COVID-19, the highly contagious and potentially lethal novel coronavirus, schools will implement standards designed to prevent infection and to safely conduct large group gathering, the transport of students, the serving of meals, the entering of school buildings and the transition between classes. School officials will also take measure to provide extra precaution for vulnerable populations.
According to the Georgia Department of Education, “This approach is built upon the guidance and recommendations of health officials; it is strongly aligned to the reopening guidelines that have been provided by our state and federal leaders; and it’s designed to help districts prioritize the health and safety of students and teachers as they open school buildings and deliver instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. “Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools focuses heavily on the health and physical requirements necessary for reopening school buildings. The Georgia Department of Education will continue to provide guidance and recommendations to districts and schools on navigating the academic, social, and emotional effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and employees. “
“Thank you for your support while we begin making preparations for this fall. We look forward to welcoming our students back as soon as we are able,” said Woodard.