As was the case with Walton County Public Schools, Gwinnett County Public Schools announced Thursday that the plan is for students to be given the option to either attend school on campus at the start of the 2020/2021 school year or continue with a digital option, at least for the first semester. The plan is to return on Aug. 5, allowing those students who are comfortable to return to the classroom to do so and those who are not to continue with digital learning at home.
“As part of the planning process, we gathered feedback from families about their preferred way to return to school. A survey completed in mid-June showed that 43% of parents prefer a return to in-person instruction; 34% prefer 100% digital learning; and 23% prefer an option that combines in-person instruction with digital learning,” GCPS announced online and in an email to parents on June 25. “Gwinnett County Public Schools considered this feedback and other relevant information available at the time. We thoroughly studied combining in-person and digital learning. The many challenges related to this option make it one the school system cannot effectively manage with existing resources. Therefore, it was determined that the most prudent course of action is to open the school year with in-person instruction, along with an option for digital learning, for students in grades K-12.”
Parents are going to be asked to let the school know which system they will prefer for the full first semester – the student will, however, be able to change the choice after the first nine weeks if needed in order to better serve the student. Parents will be getting an email on Monday, June 29, asking them to select one of the two options and to make the selection by July 10. Anybody who does not respond by that date will automatically be assigned to in-person instruction.
School officials gave the following information for parents to consider before making the choice.
What to expect at school in the fall…
- Families should self-screen at home. It is recommended that families take temperatures daily before going to school. Anyone with a fever of 100.4 F or higher should not go to a school site. Students and adults also should screen themselves for respiratory symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath prior to coming to school each day.
- Periodic screenings, including random temperature checks, will be conducted. Students and staff with COVID-19 symptoms or a temperature of 100.4+ will be isolated immediately and sent home.
- All students and employees must stay home if they have COVID-19 symptoms, tested positive, or had close contact with a person with COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
- For those who are ill, health dept. guidelines will be followed for return to school/work.
- Frequent handwashing encouraged, with breaks for scheduled handwashing at ES level. We also will recommend bringing hand sanitizer from home.
- Cleaning/disinfecting of buildings, surfaces, and high-touch objects will be done more frequently. Ventilation systems will be monitored for proper operation.
- Buses will be cleaned/disinfected after morning/afternoon routes.
- The use of masks can be a challenge for some children and adults, so it will not be required. However, the wearing of masks will be encouraged for those who can.
- Schools will limit visitors; serve meals in classrooms; stagger lunch, playground, and class-change schedules; and hold meetings/events virtually as possible.
- Where feasible, rooms will be arranged with student desks facing the same direction and students seated at tables will sit on the same side.
- Students will be discouraged from sharing books, materials, supplies, or equipment, including devices and equipment used for athletics/PE.
- Cleaning/disinfecting protocols will be used in computer labs, media centers, and athletic facilities.
- Cafeteria keypads will be replaced with a barcode scanning system.
- Water fountains will be closed. Students will be encouraged to bring water from home.
Digital Learning Option
- The expectations for students participating in digital learning in the fall of 2020 will be the same as for those attending in-school in terms of attendance, grading, and accountability.
- For the most part, the digital learning day will follow the same operational hours as the in-person school day.
- For those, who choose digital learning, students will need access to reliable internet and devices. Sharing a device is not recommended as multiple students in a family would “attend” digital lessons at the same time during the school day.
- During the spring, we learned that parent involvement is a key to successful digital learning as students may need parental assistance during the digital learning school day.