JEFF DAVIS, Ga. (WTOC) - Jeff Davis County Schools has pushed their start date back to Aug. 20. School officials say this delayed start has given them more time to prepare to the best of their ability.
“We do what we do because we care about kids and we enjoy being around them,” said Superintendent Chris Roppe.
Summer is coming to an end for students in Jeff Davis. It’s been a long few weeks of decision making for school officials who are trying to make sure every family feels at ease for the 2020-2021 school year.
“We feel it’s in our students’ best interest to be back in school, but we’re not going to sit there and guarantee that nothing would happen during that time. So, that parent needs to be able to choose,” said Roppe.
More than 600 students from Pre-K to 12th grade have chosen the virtual learning option. This is about 19 percent of the student body.
Superintendent Roppe says their delayed start date has given the staff more time to prepare for virtual teaching.
"Going in we have training set up for our teachers during pre-planning for the online programs, to practice and be able to provide things as far as assignments."
For those who are coming to school, the days will be a lot different from beginning to end. Getting on the bus, a bus monitor will check temperatures. Car riders will also have their temperatures checked before going into the school. During the school day students are encouraged to wear a mask and sanitize regularly.
“If a student does have a temperature over the recommended amount we will have them in a room where they’re quarantined until we can get a parent up here and we can get that student home,” said Roppe.
During class changes and lunch, Roppe says staff members will monitor social distancing.
Roppe says he felt as though giving parents as much input as possible was important. Community forums have allowed school officials to answer and consider more than 350 questions from parents and guardians. Most questions centered around safety, masks and what the school day would look like.
"We have a phenomenal leadership team in our district and we have phenomenal staff members who would do whatever it takes for our students."
Parents, Esmeralda Torres, Shanae Lewis and Leigh Poe have all decided to send their kids to school.
“I trust that they’ll make the right decisions and whatever is best for the safety of our kids,” said Torres.
“My girls are starting kindergarten and Pre-K, so they’re so excited to start back to school. I didn’t want to take that experience away from them,” said Lewis.
The parents say switching to virtual this past year was extremely hard.
“I have more fear of them being at home, virtual, not getting the full experience or learning to their best ability,” said Lewis.
Parent, Leigh Poe says her four girls have all gone through the school system and no matter the hurdle the best decisions have always been made.
“As long as all my kids have come through Jeff Davis High School, they’ve always handled every situation that arose for the 100 percent safety of our children,” said Poe.
Roppe says in order to keep everyone safe the buses and classrooms will be sanitized regularly. No attendance awards will be handed out this year because the school doesn't want anyone to feel pressured to go to school if they feel sick.
"This is going to be an atypical year that's going to take thinking outside of the box to be very effective and I'm very confident in our staff and our community to provide that."
Roppe says after school programs typically start in January, so school officials will make a decision on them after the first semester. The district is also relying on the Georgia High School Association to make the call for sports.
If school were to shut down again, Superintendent Roppe says they’re a one-to-one school and they’ll be more capable of handling the transition to virtual learning.