This morning in a 10-page document, “Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools” the Georgia Department Education offered guidance to Georgia’s 181 school districts that containing over 2,200 schools that employ over 114,800 teachers who educate approximately 1.6 million students every day. This document came after the Center for Disease Control gave federal guidance to prioritize the health and safety of students and teachers.
“In partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health, we created these guidelines to give school districts a blueprint for a safe reopening that is realistic in the K-12 setting. We have a responsibility to keep our students, teachers, school staff, and families safe and to provide the best possible education for our children.” Richard Woods, State School Superintendent
Georgia was one of many states who starting on March 16th shuttered their physical doors and opted for virtual learning to fight the spread of COVID-19. Currently, Georgia has had a total of 48,000 confirmed cases, and nationwide 106,000+ have died from the virus.
“This approach is built upon the guidance and recommendations of health officials; it is strongly aligned to the reopening guidelines that have been provided by our state and federal leaders; and it’s designed to help districts prioritize the health and safety of students and teachers as they open school buildings and deliver instruction for the 2020-2021 school year.” (GaDOE)
From face coverings, hand sanitizer, clean/disinfect the document has three levels of community spread, Instructional model, and the Response as determined by local school districts. In addition, the document is divided by practicing prevention, transporting students, entering school buildings, serving meals, transitioning, conducting large group gatherings, supporting teaching and learning, and protecting vulnerable populations.
Among the recommendations are:
-Providing hand soap and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, paper towels and no-touch trash cans in all bathrooms, classrooms, and frequently trafficked areas.
-Provide masks and other appropriate PPE to staff.
-Conduct deep cleansing of schools prior to students/staff returning; schedule additional cleanings during weekends or school holidays/breaks.
-Providing face masks for bus drivers; allow students to wear masks/coverage.
-Take temperatures before entering buildings.
-Allowing students hand washing before and after meal service.
-Serving meals in the classrooms.
-Providing additional time for transitions and plan for staggered classes.
-Abiding by the maximum number of people allowed to congregate as defined by the Governor’s current statewide executive order.
-Surveying parents to gauge which students may want to conduct their schooling virtually for the 2020-2021 school year.
-Alternating Schedules (A/B); targeted distance/remote learning
-Surveying at-risk staff members on their intentions of returning for the next school year.
School districts around Georgia are currently deciding how they will open schools in the fall. This story is developing.