Superintendent Will Schofield took a moment at the beginning of the Monday, July 20 Hall County school board work session to express his hopes for the community, as well as insight into the pandemic, but delayed any updated recommendations for a return to school.
“In the near future, I will make a recommendation to our board. They will accept, reject, or modify that recommendation and that will be our plan moving forward,” Schofield said in a statement.
He offered no changes as yet regarding the beginning of the school year but instead shined light on the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Schofield said that the health crisis has opened a door for people to unite, learn from their neighbors and draw strength from one another.
“In the past, similar crises shaped our country and brought out the best in us,” Schofield said. “ … I continue to hope that our community may instead commit to listen and share, seeking to accomplish our common goal of what is best for our Hall County families.”
Schofield said that he knows people are falling ill from COVID-19 and methods exist to slow its spread including social distancing, practicing personal hygiene, contact tracing, sanitizing high-touch surfaces and wearing masks in crowded spaces.
“This is not political,” he said. “This is the consensus of medical and infectious disease experts from around the world.”
Schofield explained the widespread number of children not attending school during the pandemic has come at an “extreme high price” in relation to their mental and physical health, literacy and numeracy, diminishing career and college options and more.
He said that students gathering at brick-and-mortar schools during the pandemic is not a “yes” or “no” proposition.
“There are costs and benefits associated with both positions, and no individual has the ‘right’ answer for everyone regarding this question,” Schofield said. “Certain areas of the world have re-opened schools with relatively encouraging results. More information needs to be collected and analyzed immediately and with unbiased methodology.”
Schofield assured the board and community that the district intends to continue consulting experts, examining staffing needs, listening to the Hall community and making decisions that the system believes is the best and safest option.
“My hope and prayer for this community is that we seek, with all of our ability, a desire to come together for the good of all, creating and developing the most positive, safe and hopeful path forward for our boys and girls, our team members, and our overall community,” he said.
The county system has mandated face masks for staff but not students. According to guidance from the school system: “All students are required to have a face covering. When practical, and per CDC guidelines, students will be required to wear their face covering when not socially distanced from others.”