The Hall County School District will provide an in-person learning option for families “as soon as possible” according to a YouTube video released by Superintendent Will Schofield Thursday morning. Schofield did not say explicitly that Hall schools would be reopening for the start of the 2020-2021 school year but did imply that continuing school from home indefinitely was not a viable option.
“We are going to have to shift our thinking as your school district from ‘how do we wait out COVID’ to ‘how do we co-habitate with COVID for the foreseeable future,’” he said in the video. “There is no waiting in our back rooms and basements until COVID is over with before we can have school again.”
Schofield said between 25% and 45% of families with children attending Hall schools would be unable to go to work if students were not in schools, making continuing school from home “a deal breaker.”
He also said the district’s youngest learners, particularly those “that are coming from conditions of poverty,” have lost as much as a year of literacy and numeracy abilities over the last four months, making a return to in-person education a top priority for the district.
“I would be the first to say, with 31 years in public education, that our young learners cannot afford to lose a year of literacy and numeracy ability and instruction,” Schofield said. “And the longer we wait to go back to school, the more that slide is going to continue.”
Schofield did acknowledge that some families would be uncomfortable returning to schools and said the district would “do the best we can to walk alongside you and provide you resources to keep the learning process going for your home.”
He also said the district’s plans for sanitation, transportation and potential requirements for students and faculty to don masks and other PPE were still under consideration, and more information would be forthcoming. Schofield added there was a possibility some buildings may have to be closed during the school year, stating that “what we’re going to have to be, in terms of perhaps above all else, is flexible.”
“I wish I had a magic answer, a template on your screen that said here’s what we’re going to do, one, two, three, four, and it’s going to be just perfect,” he said. “There are no perfect answers. But I can tell you one thing: there will be 3,400 adults working until their fingers bleed to provide a positive, encouraging and productive education experience for the students of Hall County.”