Candler Co. schools focusing on early childhood literacy after challenging virtual environment

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:27 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:37 PM EDT
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CANDLER COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - The countdown is on as students and teachers get ready for a new school year in a matter of days.

Candler County students will return to schools that might more closely resemble 2019 instead of 2020 when it comes to COVID-19 and protocols.

“We’re cautious as we come back in, but not quite the level of anxiety that we can coming in last year,” Candler County Superintendent Dr. Bubba Longgrear said.

He says they’re contracting with an outside cleaning company for regular visits and stressing for kids to stay healthy and stay home if they’re sick.

“We’re encouraging hygiene more than ever. We are encouraging social distancing. We are encouraging our teachers to be conscious of their proximity to students,” Dr. Longgrear said.

They finished last year with only 10 percent of students still in virtual learning. They’ll still offer that, but, “This year, there’s a pretty stringent application process. We want to insure that the student has the desire, capability, and equipment,” Dr. Longgrear said.

He says they’re increasing their focus on early childhood literacy, especially after the past two school years.

“Trying to learn to read in a virtual environment is extremely challenging. Some home environments, with parents working or technology struggles, there just are gaps,” Dr. Longgrear said.

He says one of the many challenges for teachers this year will be evaluating what students have missed over the last year-plus and help students catch up to where they should be.

Dr. Longgrear says the last 18 months have been as challenging for teachers and staff as they have for students and parents, and everyone he’s heard from is excited to safely return to as much “normal” as possible.

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