School officials approve 2020-2021 reopening plan

STAFF REPORT :::

The Griffin-Spalding Board of Education has approved a plan to reopen the school system for the 2020-2021 academic year. The delayed school starting date is Sept. 8 and was presented as Option 1 in a stakeholder survey.

The approved plan will allow schools to resume normal operations while also offering a remote distance learning option for families who choose not to send their child to school for the first nine weeks. During the first nine weeks, families may choose full-time remote learning for their students.

The delayed start date will allow the Griffin-Spalding County School System (GSCSS) to provide additional staff training on CDC-recommended safety protocols, new logistical process and time to receive supplies, materials and any additional information required for effective implementation.

All staff members will report according to their normal work calendar unless notified prior to their scheduled start date.

The GSCSS Start of School Task Force was launched in May to examine options and develop a plan to safely reopen schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The task force was charged with three tasks including reviewing all guidance provided by the CDC, Georgia Public Health, Governor’s Office, and the Georgia Department of Education regarding the reopening of schools; identifying and examining possible options for a safe reopening; and accessing all aspects of the school district’s operations for appropriate implementation of options identified for consideration.

The task force ultimately developed three options for further assessment. A districtwide survey was produced June 12 seeking feedback from parents and guardians as well as staff members. Based on that input, the task force recommended Option 1.

“The safety of our students, families and staff is our top priority. GSCS is committed to ensuring all students have access to high-quality instruction and support for the 2020-2021 school year,” said GSCSS Superintendent Jim Smith. “I truly appreciate all of the hard work and commitment set forth by the GSCS Start of School Task Force to design an instructional program that embodies a wide variety of concerns and considerations in mind based on the feedback from the surveys.”

Families who wish to utilize the full-time remote learning option must complete the GSCSS remote at-home learning commitment form for each child for the school they will attend. A commitment for the first nine-week period is required. This form must be completed and submitted for each child by Friday, July 17.

Students participating in the remote learning option must have reliable internet access.

Families who select the full-time remote learning option will need to complete the GSCS Remote At-Home Learning Commitment Form for each child for the school they will attend. Families must commit to the entire nine (9)-week period. Students participating in the remote at-home learning option must have reliable internet access. This form must be completed and submitted for each child by Friday, July 17. The form may be completed online at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tyMubur_Q4nDV-1y-faHuq2fglLU_DZ7o4Iq_uDPaVg/edit?usp=sharing

For students who will attend school for in-person learning beginning Sept. 8, the GSCSS will implement safety protocols based on the CDC Considerations for Schools and Georgia Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools. These protocols include:

Enforcing six feet social distancing whenever possible.

Providing hand sanitizer in multiple locations throughout schools

Requiring students and staff to wear face coverings/masks in all common areas of the building. Face coverings will also be worn in classroom settings where six feet social distancing cannot be maintained.

Following daily and rigorous cleaning protocols.

Handwashing and restroom breaks will be scheduled throughout the day. Restrooms and common areas will be disinfected daily.

Hand sanitizer will be provided on all school buses. Bus drivers and students will be encouraged to wear face coverings/masks on buses. Buses will be cleaned and disinfected daily. Parents are encouraged to transport their student(s) to school if possible, to minimize the number of students on buses. Parents will be asked to remain in cars during morning drop off.

COVID-19 screening procedures will also be implemented.

All students and staff will have their temperature screened and documented when arriving at the school building. All staff and students will be screened for COVID-19 signs and symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath at school.

Any student or staff member with COVID-19 symptoms will be isolated. If a staff member or student is found to have a fever greater than 100.4 F, they will not be able to return to work or school until they are fever free for 72 hours without the aid of fever reducing medications.

Staff and parents of students are encouraged to notify the school nurse of any possible exposure to COVID 19 or of a positive test result.

To minimize risk of contamination, meals will be provided in to-go containers for all students getting meals. Students may eat in classroom settings as well as other identified areas to support social distancing and reduce crowd size in one location or area.

Markers will be placed on the floor to indicate six feet distancing in the cafeteria to promote social distancing while waiting in line or when using the cafeteria in a reduced capacity method. Food sharing by students will not be allowed.

Option 1 guidelines for students enrolled in PreK, CTAE, ESOL, Special Education, Multi-tiered Support System (MTSS), Gifted and Talented and Dual Enrollment (GRCCA) will be published in the GSCS Back-to-School Guide. The guide will provide in-depth information on how the GSCSS plans to ensure safety for students and staff including daily health screenings, public health practices like handwashing and social distancing, sanitizing buildings and crisis protocols for schools in the event of an outbreak.

Additionally, guidance for the GSCS Elementary Afterschool Program, extra-curricular activities and athletics will also be included in this document.

“We understand and acknowledge that the decision to return to school is a highly personal one for each family, and we look forward to supporting the students of Griffin-Spalding in whichever setting selected both with academic and social-emotional resources in mind,” Smith said.

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