Chattooga County School Superintendent Jared Hosmer says that school will start back as planned this week. Chattooga County Schools will be one of the first systems in the state to open, with teachers returning Tuesday, July 28th, the students will start back Thursday, July 30th.
Superintendent Hosmer addressed the following areas of community concern with AllOnGeorgia.
AOG: Covid-19 seems like it has finally reached our community forcing many government offices and businesses to close: will the schools shut down when someone tests positive, will it be a different procedure depending on whether it is a student vs staff, if the school shuts down will it be an entire school, a single classroom, for how long? What does the plan look like?
HOSMER: We will follow the guidance in Georgia’s Path to Re-Opening Schools when we are notified of a positive case. The Department of Public Health will work with the school system to determine the appropriate course of action to take based on the data collected. I cannot say exactly what we will do, it will be on a case by case basis with DPH taking the lead on advising us what to do. I will attach the lastest document from DPH concerning positive test.
AOG: How are vulnerable teachers being protected?
HOSMER: We are offering them mask, hand sanitizer, cleaning solution, and are asking them to spread their room out as much as possible for social distancing. In addition, we are checking temps of students before they enter classrooms. Students with a temp about 100.4 will referred to the nurse and quarantined in an isolation room until a parent is notified; again, all of these measures are recommendations from Ga’s Path to Re-opening Schools and DPH. The measures we are taking are to protect teachers, students and all staff.
AOG: With so many grandparents as caregivers how is the system working to protect them?
HOSMER: We have put into place the measures recommended by the CDC and DPH to protect everyone associated with the school system to stop the spread.
AOG: If the district goes totally virtual at some point, will it be better/different than before? If so how?
HOSMER: The District is better prepared for a school shut down this time around. Each school has developed an “Extended Distance Learning Plan” and each student will be given a folder within the first few days of school to keep at home with Distance Learning resource information in the event of a shut down. Chromebooks are being issued to 6-12 students to carry from school to home and if a shut down occurs arrangements for K-5 students will be made for them to pick up their Chromebooks. We will not do paper packets if we have to close schools for any length of time this year.
AOG: Are teachers being required to be tested before coming back to work? If not, why not? If a teacher tests positive and is out of work will a negative test be required before allowing the teacher to come back? Are there currently any teachers in the system who have tested positive or who are awaiting test results or who are quarantined?
HOSMER: The DPH has not recommended that all teachers be tested before returning to school this week. I will attach what we were given from DPH on what to do if you test positive. I cannot comment on any teachers in the system due to privacy laws.
AOG: You have mentioned that there will be more cleaning: what will that look like, cleaning between classes? Who is our current janitorial contract with, has the company allotted different or more cleaning supplies? Who will do the cleaning? When? How (will it include different procedures)?
HOSMER: We will be sanitizing hard surfaces in between classes. Teachers will have sanitizing material through out the day in their classroom. The custodial staff will clean and sanitize during the day and each evening after everyone is out of the building (as normal) and in addition they will use Sanitation fog machines (that the District purchased) throughout each building. Our contract is with Clear Cleaning.
AOG: What does a socially distanced classroom look like? Will there be a limit on class size? Do both of these vary on grade level?
HOSMER: We have asked each administrator to spread the desk in each room as far apart as possible. We have also ask them to remove anything from each classroom that is not essential to teaching to make more room. We will know the numbers per classroom for certain when students arrive and there may need to be adjustments made to schedules to help social distance. This process will look different based on grade level and based on the individual school.
AOG: What is your recommendation going to be for fans at football games?
HOSMER: That is still to be determined. Mr. Heathcock is waiting on further guidance before he proceeds with a plan.
The last information AOG received from athletic director Heathcock indicated that guidance regarding stadium seating, concessions, venues and spectators will be coming later from sport administrators. These decisions will be made on the local level with an expectation of including Department of Health, local health professionals, and school district policies.