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Schools to open Aug. 17; Parents have choice of traditional or virtual instruction
Posted 7/10/20

Updated 8/15/2020:  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 not release names of adults or children who have tested positive. However, the district will report to the media any known positive COVID-19 cases at an office or school.  Our school nurses, working in conjunction with the Southeast Health District, will contact individual families privately to make them aware of any known close, extended exposure to a COVID-19 positive case at school.  All  other contact tracing and notification will be done through the proper channels of the Department of Public Health. Individual 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. Short of a mandate by the Georgia Governor's Office or the Georgia Department of Public Health to close schools, the school district will follow its established infectious diseases and illness protocols in that it will consult with the Southeast District Department of Public Health's guidance for any recommendations to close portions of a school, a school, or the district temporarily for public health. This is not a new protocol. It is the same protocol we follow annually during the flu season. Should schools close temporarily for a length of time, students in the virtual model would continue instruction in their online platforms, and students in the traditional model would be transitioned to distance learning with their Bulloch County Schools' teachers providing instruction online via Google Meets and other technology platforms of which students are already families.  The district would provide students Chromebooks and Internet resources as needed.

 

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?

Our traditional, large-group Open House events have been cancelled for this year and will not be rescheduled. Each school, at their own pace, will communicate to families about their child's class schedule, their teachers, and any other necessary orientation information.

 

Is gifted/QUEST instruction offered in the virtual instruction model?

Yes, gifted instruction is available through the virtual instruction platforms

  • Designated gifted faculty in the school district are preparing pre-recorded lessons that will be embedded into the Edgenuity platform for middle school and SchoolsPLP for elementary school. 
  • The school district will host its traditional fall and spring testing windows for gifted services.
  • The district will use the curriculum resources that were already in use, so students will be familiar with them.  Both the traditional and virtual gifted programs will use Envisions and Noetic Math units for elementary gifted students and the Renzulli Learning System for middle school gifted students.
  • If you have specific questions about certain Advanced Placement courses and offerings through Georgia Virtual School, please pose those questions directly to your high school counselor, who is the best expert to advise you on your individual child's academic journey toward graduation.   

 

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 and the SchoolsPLP platform for grades K-5 are posted.

 

For additional information about the logistics and day-to-day operations of both the virtual and traditional instructional models, please visit our COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions webpage.