Bulloch County Schools will open for the first day of school on Monday, August 17, with both a traditional face-to-face and a virtual option from which parents can choose for their children. The school district will continue its mission to ensure student success and schools will work with families to ensure engagement, learning, academic skills mastery, and as many school experiences as possible.
“This is a plan that gets our students back to school, and it provides our families with options,” said Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson. “There will be more details to come, but we have provided two initial flyers that cover key points about the plans.”
The return-to-school plan comes after 18 weeks of ongoing planning and re-planning to adapt to ever-changing global pandemic conditions and guidelines from seven separate national and state agencies and extracurricular associations. The Bulloch County Board of Education approved a recommendation from Superintendent Wilson on July 9, to provide the plan’s two instructional model choices (traditional and virtual) for Pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade students.
The Board also approved a two-week delayed start to the school year which was to have originally begun on August 3. The delay was to accommodate the Board’s June 25, request to add an all-virtual option for all elementary grades to the school district’s original return-to-school plan and to provide time to obtain parents’ instructional model choices for nearly 11,000 students. By the end of July, the school district will contact all parents by email and by telephone if necessary, to seek their individualized instruction model choice for each child. A prompt response from parents will be critical to the school district’s ability to deploy technology and faculty support to meet students’ needs by August 17.
The superintendent chose to recommend the choice of a traditional instruction option after he sought community feedback and nearly 900 parents responded online and by telephone with questions and concerns. The superintendent hosted two community livestream sessions on July 2 and July 6 to provide an overview of planning efforts since March, current conditions, state guidelines, and answers to questions that covered more than 10 key areas. Nearly 1,000 people participated live, and more than 10,000 have viewed the sessions’ videos.
Two flyers about the two instruction options are attached. These are also initial answers to some frequently asked questions:
Will the school district make announcements about COVID-19 positive cases among students and employees?
At the direction of the Department of Public Health, and to comply with federal privacy laws, the school district will make no mass announcements about COVID-19 positive cases that involve its students or employees. All contact tracing and notification will be done through the proper channels of the Department of Public Health. Medical information about any student or employee is also protected by federal privacy laws and will not be released by the school district.
Will schools close if there is a COVID-19 positive case(s)?
Schools are considered critical infrastructure. There will be no school shutdowns for infectious diseases unless directed by the Governor’s Office or the Department of Public Health to do so. This has always been the state’s school safety protocol. This is not a new protocol. It is the same protocol we communicate to families annually during the flu season.
Will schools close to deep clean for COVID-19 positive cases?
The virus is relatively fragile, so standard hygiene practices, such as cleaning hands with soap and water, can help remove and kill the virus. According to the Department of Public Health, the virus can live and potentially infect a person for only two to eight hours after being deposited on a surface. Therefore, special sanitizing processes beyond the routine deep cleaning methods we’ve already enacted, including closing schools to further deep clean every surface in the building, are not necessary or recommended to slow a spread.
Deep cleaning protocols for COVID-19 for our facilities happen every day and throughout the day in all school and office classrooms, common areas, restrooms, and other touch points. Custodian teams were trained in March on how to properly disinfect surfaces for COVID-19, and they have successfully implemented these practices since that time for our staff. This will continue when students return.
Will there be school Open House events?
At this time, a new date for Open House is not yet known. Additional information will be communicated when it is available.
Is gifted/QUEST instruction offered in the virtual instruction model?
Yes, gifted instruction is available through the virtual instruction platforms, and plans are in motion to also provide supplemental virtual instruction from the school district’s gifted program faculty.
May parents view sample lessons/instruction for the virtual program?
Sample virtual program videos are available on the school district’s website for the Edgenuity platform for grades 6-12. When sample videos for the SchoolsPLP platform for grades K-5 and Bright from the Start’s virtual solution for Pre-kindergarten are available, they will be posted here as well.