Gainesville City Schools students will work from home for the first two weeks of classes, district officials announced Monday. The system's first day of school for the spring semester is Wednesday.
The district's announcement explained that its schools witnessed an increase in COVID-19 cases before winter break and “an ever greater increase” in the community.
The decision to undergo remote instruction from Wednesday, Jan. 6 to Friday, Jan. 15, was made after reviewing community COVID-19 case information and ongoing discussions with the Department of Public Health, Northeast Georgia Health System and others, the announcement reads.
Gainesville Superintendent Jeremy Williams said as of Monday, the system has 19 employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are unable to work. He said the district is beginning to receive reports regarding positive cases among students.
“We are starting to see a lot more come in,” Williams said. “Burdening the hospital is now our No. 1 concern. We don’t want to be guilty of adding to that. We have employees who have family members that work in health care professions, and we want to be responsible in our response to the community.”
Starting Wednesday, all meals will be delivered to students each weekday. Open house is still scheduled on Tuesday, Jan. 5, for those transitioning from remote learning to face-to-face instruction this semester and for students needing to meet their teachers and receive their schedules.
Attendance will be taken daily during online instruction.
If elementary schoolers are unable to attend their online classes, families can pick up learning packets at their children’s respective schools. Attendance for these students will be taken weekly and determined by completion of packet assignments, district officials say.
The district plans to prioritize device distribution for those in third through fifth grade. Students in middle and high school are asked to reach out to administration to arrange a pick-up if their Chromebook is at their school.
Williams encourages families to report any student positive cases or close-contact incidents to their direct teachers or school administration.
“The biggest thing people need to understand is that it (COVID-19) impacts everyone differently,” Williams said. “What’s important to us is they stay safe always. Take more precautions. If a child is sick or has been around someone exposed, you’ve got to let us know. The reporting piece is critical to our short-term and long-term success.”
Williams said students and staff should receive an update either Tuesday, Jan. 12 or Wednesday, Jan. 13, regarding whether or not the district will extend at-home learning.
Hall County Schools officials said Sunday that their students would begin the semester from home as well. Classes will be online for at least the first week in Hall, the announcement said.