Back to School: Counties heading to class for first day of school

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:21 AM EDT
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BULLOCH COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Several counties are heading back to school on Monday.

Long, Appling, Bacon, Montgomery, Tattnall, Bulloch and Screven counties return to the classroom Monday.

Bulloch County

Bulloch County is welcoming back more than 10,000 students. If the superintendent’s enthusiasm is an indication, they’re very ready to welcome back students. He says they’re ready to put the past two years of the pandemic behind them.

Teachers began preparations last week. The school year comes after finishing the past two years with some students learning in person and some virtual.

Superintendent Charles Wilson says one challenge behind the scenes is preparing the district for growth. With the megasite only a few miles from southern Bulloch County, he anticipates some school zones in the county to grow dramatically in the near future. One of the district’s challenges will be to prepare for that.

“We know we’re going to see growth in the next year, five years, ten years. That’s something on our radar that we’re going to have to deal with,” Wilson said.

Long County

And in Long County, they are excited to return with about 200 more students to start Monday than last year at this time.

Last year they also had 200 more than the year prior. The county as a whole is starting off the year with around 4,400 students enrolled.

Because of that, they have created a new Pre-K center this year to make sure all grade levels have enough space and are working on an expansion at the high school.

Superintendent David Edwards says he is excited about the growth but mainly that all of the students will be starting off in-person with high hopes it will be smoother than last year.

“There were pockets where things got a little intense with COVID so this year, we will be able to have a full year of all face to face instruction and be able to have a good year,” Edwards said.

Last year students did have to transition to virtual for a while. And while Superintendent Edwards says they are ready to pivot if they need to this year, they are planning for a much more traditional start to the year.

Tattnall County

Tattnall County students are also heading back to the classroom this morning.

County superintendent Dr. Gina Williams says this year their campuses will more closely resemble 2019 than the past few years during the pandemic.

She says they’ll use part of their COVID relief funds to purchase school supplies for every student. She says it’s part of their plan to help students overcome the challenges of the past two plus years.

Dr. Williams also says the district is relaxing its on-campus COVID policy this year, allowing visitors, staff, and students to all move more freely.

“We’re going back to people being able to come in to the buildings. Parents, for conferences and such, moving through the buildings as normal,” Williams said.

This year will also see a couple of new schools. They’re consolidating three elementary schools into two brand new campuses - North Tattnall and South Tattnall.

Appling County

Students in Appling County schools will walk through the doors to start the new year Monday, but teachers and administrators have been hard at work getting ready.

The district is making sure all students are caught up on skills that may have taken a backseat during the pandemic. It will offer tutoring sessions during and after school.

“We’ll bring some retired teachers back in. They’re creative in that way to do the tutoring to help catch those skills up,” said Superintendent Dr. Scarlett Copeland.

The district is also using some of its COVID relief funds to purchase school supplies for all K-12 students.

Bacon County

Over in Bacon County, the school district is doing something similar for students who return Monday.

Bacon County’s school board voted to allocate part of their COVID relief funds to purchasing school supplies for every student as well.

“Regardless of economic status, everybody gets the same supplies- whether that’s a three ring binder or a pack of pencils, or crayons. Every student gets the same exact thing,” said Assistant Superintendent Traci Martin.

All 2,300 students return Monday across the district’s four schools.

Montgomery County

In Montgomery County, about 1,000 students will be returning Monday. Administrators say students may notice a few additional safety measures put in place over the summer.

Each campus will have a full-time School Resource Officer. Teachers have a “quick response” method to contact the front office in case of an emergency.

All school entrances and exits will be secured. Receptionists will sit behind bulletproof glass during the visitors check-in process.

Each campus will have a metal detector to be used during high traffic days and at sporting events. And schools will regularly conduct active shooter drills.

“We don’t want to overly alarm to scare kids or to make parents more afraid, but we’re going to continue to do our best to keep everyone safe,” said Montgomery County Elementary School Principal Eric Burns.

Screven County

Screven County schools are also back, and while classes will look normal and may feel normal, administrators know some students have not made the progress needed over the last couple of years.

The district had a large response to summer school and will offer tutoring during the year thanks to some special help.

“You take someone who was in a classroom for 30 years, and bring them back, in a tutoring role for “extra help” and they can do wonders,” said Superintendent Dr. Jim Thompson.

Returning later this week

Tuesday, Bryan, Liberty and Evans counties kick off their school year.

Wednesday, students in Chatham and Hampton counties returns.

Thursday is the first day for Effingham County students.

Friday is the first day for Wayne, Jeff Davis, Toombs, and Candler counties, as well as Vidalia city schools.

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