Update, Oct. 29: For the latest updates on school and other facility closures related to storm damage, click here.
The Gainesville City School System and Hall County School District, as well as some private and postsecondary institutions in Hall, will not hold in-person classes on Thursday, Oct. 29, as the county prepares for strong winds and heavy rain expected from Hurricane Zeta.
Class is still in session but will be hosted virtually, the schools say.
Hurricane Zeta was expected to make landfall on the Gulf Coast on Wednesday afternoon, and Hall County has been placed under a tropical storm and flash flood warning.
According to an email from Gainesville Superintendent Jeremy Williams, the “threat of strong winds through noon, limited visibility and the safety of One Gainesville” are strong enough concerns for school buildings and in-person instruction to be shut down for the day.
Williams’ email advises teachers to take their laptops home and engage with their students in a remote learning day on Thursday. All 12-month employees and administrators have also been asked to speak to their supervisors regarding teleworking.
Hall County spokesman Stan Lewis wrote via email that the school district will be closing its buildings on Thursday due to “the strong possibility of power outages and dangerous road conditions.”
Lewis said in-person students would have a day of remote learning, and students already learning remotely will not be affected by the schedule change. He added that if power outages cause difficulties with remote learning, school from home plans may be amended.
“As always, we will keep the safety of our students and team members our top priority,” Lewis said.
Hall and Gainesville schools are not alone in their schedule adjustments.
Lakeview Academy in Gainesville will also be holding remote schooling Thursday. According to school spokeswoman Sondra Berry, lower school classes will begin online at 9 a.m., while middle and upper school classes will follow A, B, C and D periods beginning at 11 a.m. Students and parents should check their emails for more information, according to Berry.
Lanier Christian Academy in South Hall will be on a remote learning schedule Thursday due to “uncertain weather and potential large-scale power outages,” according to head of school Dwayne Daniels. Daniels wrote via email that parents have already been informed of the closure, and teachers and students are prepared to work from home.
Lanier Technical College will also be holding classes online, according to school spokeswoman Lauren Talley. A decision regarding operations for this Friday will be announced on Thursday afternoon, Talley said.
Riverside Military Academy announced Thursday morning it would delay class until noon. Cadets should report at 11:45 a.m., according to the announcement.
Brenau University spokesman Ben McDade said that as of Wednesday afternoon, Brenau had not made a decision on a potential closing for Thursday.
The University of North Georgia will delay the opening of offices until 9 a.m., but in-person classes will begin at 9:30 a.m. as originally scheduled, according to school spokeswoman Sylvia Carson. Online and hybrid courses scheduled for 8 a.m. will continue as planned and as power and internet conditions allow. Carson added that UNG would be monitoring weather conditions and announce further changes on Thursday morning via the UNG alert system and UNG website.