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Athens private school opting for online learning due to coronavirus concerns.

A small private school in Athens is converting to online learning as fears of the coronavirus pandemic spreads.

“After careful consideration, we have made the decision to convert to online learning due to the COVID-19 coronavirus health issue,” Karen Gerow, the founder and director of Double Helix STEAM School said in a Thursday morning announcement.

“Our primary concern is always the health and well-being of our students and staff,” Gerow said.

The school on Tallassee Road has 40 students in grades 4- 8.

“While we know students this age are in the lowest risk category, we have many students who are in the care of their grandparents,” Gerow said. “We have families that are immunocompromised. Half of our staff is in the high-risk category. The well-being of our students is directly tied to the well-being of those they love.”

Gerow added, “I am grateful to our staff and parents who offered support as we made this decision. We want to continue to support each other as a community, so please reach out if there is something we can help you with. Please be cautious with your own health. Practice social distancing. We want to flatten the curve.”

The school is planning to extend its spring break to March 19 so that teachers can prepare for the conversion to online learning.

“We will have a ‘soft opening’ at 8:30 a.m. on March 20 to introduce students to what online learning will look like,” Gerow said. “We expect to have a mix of synchronous learning, in which all students meet as a group at the same time, and asynchronous, or independently completed learning on a specific time line.

“One of our priorities will be to offer opportunities that continue our sense of community,” Gerow said.

Georgia authorities announced late Wednesday that Georgia had nine additional confirmed and presumed cases of the disease caused by coronavirus, bringing the total number of patients sickened by COVID-19 to 31 across the state.

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