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Gainesville City Schools to move online for final days of semester
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Gainesville High students make their way across campus to their next classroom Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, during a class change. - photo by Scott Rogers

Students in the Gainesville City School District will finish their semester from home, after the district announced Tuesday morning that it will cancel the final days of in-person instruction.

Wednesday, Dec. 16, will be the last day of face-to-face instruction, the district says.

District officials say an increase in COVID-19 cases and exposures in Gainesville and Hall County, as well as other locations where staff live, have meant the system has “reached a tipping point” and is unable to provide coverage in all of its major departments.

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“While our hope is to return on January 6, we will continue to monitor the situation and will release any updated plans as soon as possible,” the announcement from Superintendent Jeremy Williams says.

Employees will continue to report this week, and all buildings and rooms will be cleaned, sanitized and disinfected, according to the announcement. Meals will be delivered on each bus route Thursday and Friday, beginning at 11 a.m. 

As of Monday, Dec. 14, the district reported nine new COVID-19 cases among employees and seven among students, the superintendent told The Times.

He said 118 students and staff are under quarantine because of exposure to a COVID-19 positive person at school, and 25 are under quarantine because of exposure at home or off campus.

Given the short notice of closure, Williams said expectations for remote instruction will be “at the discretion of each school due to the short notice.” He told The Times most teachers should be finished with their end-of-the-semester grading, so the district is allowing each school to decide whether or not to provide remote instruction. 

Thursday and Friday, he said, can serve as days for teachers to offer makeup assignments for those needing more time to improve their grades. 

“Those last two days are to fill the gaps that still exist,” Williams said. “That’s why the remote instruction piece is still allowed.”

Upon return in January, Williams said schools will set aside Tuesday, Jan. 5 for those returning from remote to face-to-face instruction to have the chance to meet their teachers before diving into in-person learning.

Williams said around 650 of this semester’s 1,100 remote students will begin taking classes in person next semester. 

The Hall County School District announced on Monday that its students would move to remote instruction beginning on Wednesday, and that its spring semester would begin with a hybrid schedule. On Tuesday, the district said Riverbend Elementary will also move to remote learning for the remainder of the semester.

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