Georgia schools received guidance from the state on how to safely reopen in the fall Monday via a document released by the Georgia departments of education and public health titled “Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools.”
The document provides a tiered approach to reopening, with clear steps that are “built upon the guidance and recommendation of health officials.” The plan is not mandatory, as all school districts retain the independent ability to open how they see fit, but it provides guidance for school leaders uncertain of the best measures to take.
Steps to be taken will differ from location to location, based on the level of spread in an individual community, ranging from “substantial spread” to “minimal/moderate spread” to “low/no spread.”
In areas of substantial spread, the state advises that schools remain closed and stick with remote learning until the community in question moves to “minimal/moderate spread.”
At that stage, schools can either open for traditional learning while taking “intensive mitigation strategies” or open in a hybrid fashion that could involve a staggered approach to attending schools where only half the students would be in a physical classroom at a time on an alternative schedule.
“Intensive mitigation strategies” involve many precautionary measures also recommended to recently reopened businesses, such as disinfecting all frequently touched objects and surfaces after every use and posting signage around schools communicating the best ways to stop the spread of COVID-19. The document recommends turning off water fountains and providing bottled water for students, as well as checking up on ventilation systems to make sure they are increasing the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible. It also advises that as long as a school is in an area of “minimal/moderate spread” that students and faculty have their temperatures taken before entering the school building and that schools designate flow paths in hallways to prevent student mixing as much as possible.
As soon as an area progresses to “low/no spread,” schools are advised to open back up to traditional learning while keeping preventative practices — such as having hand sanitizer constantly available to students and keeping up signage on how to slow the spread of the virus — in place.
At all levels of infection, the state recommends that schools remain in communication with DPH health officials.
The full document can be found here.