Long County School System prepares for in-person, online learning

Long County School System prepares for in-person, online learning

LONG COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - The Long County School System is excited to welcome students back, in person and virtually. Administrators met every day this summer to discuss reopening plans.

Superintendent David Edwards said all the administrators are parents, and that’s what helped them make, what they believe, is the safest decision for families.

“We wanted to provide parents the opportunity to decide what’s best for their children,” said Edwards.

Long County families have two options for the 2020-21 school year: classroom learning or online learning.

“We know that there’s some parents and students that really don’t feel comfortable returning to school at this point,” said Edwards.

According to a parent survey, 62-percent of the district’s almost 4,000 students will head back to school on August 10.

Students and staff will go through temperature checks, and the district is encouraging masks...but they’re not required. Edwards said social distancing is going to be a challenge, but they are implementing new procedures when it comes to various things - such a transportation.

“We would encourage parents that can transport their kids to do so, but once they get on the bus we will transport whoever needs to be transported,” he said.

Student drop-offs will now start at 7:10 a.m., while pick-ups will be staggered.

“Principals are working on procedures for dismissing in groups,” Edwards said.

Once inside the school, there will be several changes for students.

“Breakfast will be served to them in the classroom when they arrive, and then for lunch, they will go to the cafeteria and get their tray,” the superintendent said.

Students will have assigned seating, which the district believes will help with contact tracing if a student tests positive for COVID-19.

“A letter will possibly go home and let them know there was a case in the classroom,” said Edwards. “Those students that may have been considered direct exposure would also get a phone call from the school system.”

Long County teachers started getting their classrooms ready last week, and some are even implementing safety precautions into their everyday curriculum.

{BLAIR PIRKLE/1ST GRADE TEACHER}

First grade teacher, Blair Pirkle, plans to teach her students the 5 Secrets to Safety:

  • Sanitize
  • Soap
  • Shield
  • Space
  • Seats

Pirkle said she’ll be reminding students, every day, of each of the S’s.

“Space,” she said. “I will be reminding students to keep their space and to keep their distance as much as possible. Students will also be reminded to avoid unnecessary touching.”

Most of the teachers who spoke to WTOC said they’re eager to see their students’ smiling faces again, but they know this school year is like no other.

“This is my 26th year of teaching and it kind of feels like the first year again,” said kindergarten teacher Michelle Tootle. “We’re not real sure of what’s going on. We’re just taking it day by day, but we’re excited to be here and ready to get the school year started.”

According to the superintendent, a little more than 1,400 students will start the school year virtually, with a start date of August 17. The school system is using an online learning platform called “Edgenuity.”

“The Long County teacher would probably more so be a facilitator and be that source if there should be any questions,” said Edwards. “So they’ll still have that avenue but the predominant teaching will come from the computer-based software.”

If there were to be another mandatory school closure, Edwards said the district plans to serve all students through the same online software.

“We will be prepared to deal with that,” he said.

Administrators and teachers ask families to be patient, as Edwards said procedures could change depending on CDC or state guidelines.

“This is a trying time for all of us,” said Tootle.

The Long County School System has an FAQ list about reopening plans on its website.

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