Barrow County Schools reopen to students today: schools in and around Winder began the new school year with on-line instruction only, but students and teachers are due back in classrooms this morning. The Northeast Georgia Health System says COVID 19 patient numbers at its hospitals in Gainesville and Braselton are at their lowest levels in more than two months.
From the Barrow Co School District website…
The past two weeks have shown positive improvement in our local virus community spread levels. Nine of the past ten days have been in the yellow or moderate virus spread level. While we are encouraged by this, we implore our community to continue to take steps to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This will help us to continue in-person learning and avoid school closures.
With the return of students on the A/B hybrid model on September 8, we have been encouraged by the actions of our students and staff in following our health precautions and protocols.
· Masks are required to be worn.
· Schools have taken extensive precautions to help students stay physically distanced as much as possible.
· Enhanced cleaning measures have been implemented in all buildings by staff and custodians.
· Hand sanitizer has been provided, and students are given additional opportunities to wash their hands throughout the day.
It is important to understand that while our trend in the Barrow community has been showing signs of improvement, the health crisis is not over. Even while in the hybrid model, we have had to place staff members and students under quarantine. This will no doubt continue to be the case and our public needs to expect that we will be quarantining individuals, groups of staff and students, closing classrooms, and perhaps even entire schools as we continue to work through the impacts that COVID-19 brings to our school system. There is also the possibility that individual schools or the entire system may be forced to return to the A/B hybrid schedule at some point. There will be daily decisions that will have to be made as we move along through the school year.
At this time, 26% of all BCSS students are enrolled in distance learning. All students who chose distance learning at the start of the school year will remain in distance learning until the promoted change points. This helps provide additional space on buses for distancing. However, with the return of students to in-person learning full-time, schools will be at about 75% capacity. This means students will be in closer proximity, especially in hallways during transitions. We encourage students to continue to be aware of your actions, wear the required mask, don’t touch your face, and consistently wash your hands.
Schools will continue to limit activities that would create large gatherings of people. Students will continue to eat in classrooms and large assemblies are still restricted. As a reminder, the USDA has approved a waiver through December 31, 2020 that all students will eat breakfast and lunch at no cost. This will limit the handling of cash and the time spent in the cafeteria.
If a student is sick, please stay home. The most critical tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19 is for any student that is sick or has been exposed to someone confirmed to have COVID-19 to stay home. If you are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, do not come to school. Please self-monitor for symptoms every day. Click here to see a list of COVID-19 symptoms.
BCSS has taken the proactive step to have staff at every school certified through the John Hopkins University COVID-19 Contact Tracing program. At this time, we have 134 staff that are certified contract tracers in the district. When cases or suspected cases arise at a school, we are prepared to act quickly and follow the proper steps to identify, notify, and quarantine students and staff as needed in partnership with the Northeast Health District of the Georgia Department of Public Health.
When there is a confirmed case at a school, anyone who has had close contact with a probable or confirmed case will be notified by a phone call. They will also receive a follow-up email confirming the quarantine dates required. If there is a case at a school but your child was not exposed, a letter will be posted on the school’s website to make families aware of the situation.
Every Thursday, we post the case counts for staff and students on our district website. For last week, September 3rd through 10th, there were a total of 19 student cases and 32 staff cases. These are individuals either with a positive COVID-19 test or who had direct contact with someone that has a positive status.
Please note: In order for our in-person teachers to prepare for full classes, this Wednesday, September 16 will be used as a planning day for teachers to get their rooms reset for Monday’s full classes. Families currently on the A/B hybrid schedule should not expect live interaction from these teachers on this day.
The entire staff of the Barrow County School System thanks each of you for your patience and understanding as we continue to move through these unprecedented and challenging times.