EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - In just over a week the Effingham County School District will be welcoming students back both in-person and virtually.
The district making that decision after getting feedback from families across the county.
Although it will look different this year they’re both excited to be back and prepared for the challenge that comes with it.
“We’ve been working on this process to get school opened for quite sometime now,” said ECSD Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford.
After months of planning the Effingham County School District will now see it put to the test.
The district doing their best to give families a choice.
“So, for us it was about providing the community options and having respect for both options and putting our best foot forward,” said Dr. Ford.
With the window to choose between virtual and in-person learning now closed of their nearly 13-thousand students about 27-hundred have chosen the virtual route.
Meaning less students in the classroom making it easier to social distance.
But Dr. Ford reminds parents that social distancing won’t always be possible.
“For example on the bus ride in. I think it’s important that we highly encourage to wear masks.”
Dr. Ford says students will be at most two to a seat on the bus.
While they are encouraging masks they won’t be required, instead, “I think that it’s important that we attack this from a standpoint that’s positive. Lead by example, highly encourage it, talk to them about the benefits of it.”
Thanks to GEMA the district will also have extra masks, and hand sanitizer on-hand for students.
They will take random temperature checks at school but ask that parents do so at home as well.
But they're relying on students and families to do the right thing if they are feeling sick and stay home, even making a big change to encourage that.
“We don’t have any perfect attendance goals this year, we’re not giving awards out for perfect attendance,” said Dr. Ford.
Another change they've made for those returning to school in-person is requiring a chrome book, whether purchased or checked out from the school.
“The primary focus of the chrome book is to get the kids acclimated to the google system, google classroom. So that if we do have to switch to a virtual environment there’s no hiccups and they’re ready to go,” Dr. Ford says.
A decision that has seen push back.
“Some parents are uncomfortable with having their third grader bringing a chrome book back and forth and we understand that.”
Which is why they will allow students to share one with other students and leave it at school.
As for virtual students they too will utilize Google Classroom being taught mostly from teachers in their district.
No matter what path the families choose the district is staying flexible and hoping you will too.
“There may be some things that we got to back up and say, ‘you know that’s not really working how we thought it would and we got to make some adjustments.‘”
As for athletics and other extracurricular activities with the district Dr. Ford says virtual students will be able to participate in them.
Another possible issue that could be different from years past would be finding properly trained substitute teachers.
However, Dr. Ford says they have had plenty of substitutes still willing to work with the district and are training them on Google Classroom.
He did say that if a virtual teacher is out though they will not have a substitute fill in for them but rather have lessons provided for students to complete online.
Effingham County School District’s first day of school is next Wednesday August 5.