Hall County School Board Meeting
When: 5 p.m. Monday
Where: Hall County Schools central office, 711 Green St. NW, Gainesville
More info: www.hallco.org
Gainesville City Schools Board Meeting
When: 5 p.m. Monday
Where: Gainesville Middle School, 1581 Community Way, Gainesville
More info: www.gcssk12.net
Last week’s winter storms meant happy students and possibly less happy parents.
Hall County Schools canceled classes Monday through Thursday of last week, and Gainesville City Schools, which were already on holiday Monday, canceled classes Tuesday through Thursday. Downed trees and power lines cut power and blocked roadways to a number of area schools.
Now the question is whether students will need to make up three to four days of school.
Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for North Georgia counties, including Hall, one of the hardest-hit areas in the state.
Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield said this gives the districts more options for making up classes.
“We’ll probably have an initial conversation with the (county) Board (of Education) on Monday night, but that’ll be the first conversation we have about it,” he said. “Because we were in a state of emergency, we have all kinds of options.”
It is possible students will not have to make up all days. The Georgia Department of Education provides up to four excused days for Georgia school districts in a state of emergency.
Gainesville Superintendent Wanda Creel said the central office has not yet discussed makeup days with its Board of Education.
“We have not got a solidified plan yet, but we are working with some innovative options,” she said. “It’s not about making up hour-for-hour, but it’s about making sure we’ve not lost the quality teaching and learning during that time.”
Both Hall County and Gainesville City schools typically provide at-home, online learning for snow days. Such methods were not possible most of last week, due to the extensive power outages in the area.
Creel said Gainesville teachers were able to do online learning Monday, as it was already a student holiday and staff work day.
“It was a part of our severe weather/inclement weather plan that we’d already had discussions in December with principals about what to do if we were faced with inclement weather days,” she said. “... People weren’t affected by power the first day, so we were able to do things in portals and use Google Documents since we are a Google district.”
Despite still-freezing temperatures Friday, school resumed thanks to cleared roads and restored power. Both districts had lower attendance than normal, but Creel and Schofield said that was anticipated.
Creel said she met with bus drivers first thing Friday to ensure they were prepared to pick up students safely.
“All went extremely well,” she said. “The bus drivers and our transportation department came in early to make sure buses were cranked and rolling out early so students were able to be picked up.”
Schofield said being back in session Friday was “wonderful.”
“I think folks were ready to get back,” he said. “At least the big folks; there were probably some disappointed teenagers. But (Friday) went off without a hitch and it’s been good to get everybody back.”