The Clarke County School District on Friday released the following concerning its goal to reopen schools in Athens in less than two months:
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through the unprecedented task of planning a safe return to school. The rapidly changing information related to COVID-19 has made it challenging to develop long-term plans for a safe return to school. To ensure that we have the most current updates, we are regularly consulting with the Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control, and other entities. In addition, we continue to work alongside local health authorities and government officials. As always, our number one priority is the safety, health, and wellness of our students and staff.
We have convened a school re-entry task force with a goal to begin instruction on August 3, 2020. The task force is making decisions about the models of instruction based on the guidelines issued by the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). These resources and recommendations will guide decisions on how to transport, feed, and educate our students safely.
Please note our final plan will be determined by current conditions and recommendations of our local health authorities. The following are some of the considerations of the initial planning phase:
• The Clarke County School District is closely following recommended guidelines from national, state, and local health authorities. CCSD Director of Nursing, Amy Roark, is on the district re-entry task force and also serves on the Athens-Clarke County Board of Health. This position has her in frequent communication with local health teams and epidemiologists. Additionally, Ms. Roark serves as the President-Elect of the Georgia Association of School Nurses and is in collaboration with other school districts and health leaders across the state.
• The school nurse at every school will be designated as the building's COVID-19 point of contact to assist with operations, communications, and health-related issues within the school.
• Starting July 6, the Hilsman Health Center will operate as a "Wellness Clinic" providing immunizations, sports physicals, and COVID-19 antibody testing. These services will be available to every student and all CCSD staff. Details to follow.
• School buildings will contain specific signage, and classroom spaces will be reconfigured per social distancing guidelines.
• Students and staff will be required to wear a face-covering, and everyone will have a temperature check before entering the school building.
• All staff and students will be required to stay home if they are sick.
• Throughout our schools, there will be an increased focus on practicing illness prevention, including safe hygiene and relevant staff training.
• Fall athletic programs will run according to the guidance and safety protocols provided by the Georgia High School Association (GHSA).
What Families Can Do Now
• Plan on securing your child a face covering for a safe return to school. Click here to view CDC resources regarding proper face coverings.
• Take time to reinforce proper handwashing protocols with your child to prepare him/her for school re-entry. Click here to view helpful resources from the CDC.
• If you have not already done so, please complete the return to school survey. We value your voice, and while we cannot put all recommendations in place, it is important we have your input as we consider our options.
The district will seek input from parents, students, staff, Local School Governance Teams, and other stakeholders as we finalize our plans. We know this has been a stressful time for many families, and we appreciate your patience as we develop plans for a safe return to school. It takes a community to do this work, and we know we are truly better together.
We look forward to sharing additional information in July.