TIGER— Just as information about the coronavirus pandemic is constantly changing, plans for the 2020-21 school year are changing also, and the start of school has been pushed back five days to Wednesday, August 19.
Teachers and staff members will report to work on August 5 and Pre-k students will begin on August 24.
Rabun County Board of Education members voted unanimously for the calendar update at a called meeting last Thursday.
Superintendent April Childers explained at the meeting that the reason for changing the start date from August 12 was because at least 12 students tested positive for COVID-19 and the school year would likely start with children in quarantine.
She said that those students who opted for face-to-face instruction would be at a disadvantage because they would be missing class time from the start.
Childers said that the goal is to make school as normal and safe as possible for students.
“Sounds like a good plan,” said Chairman Steve Cabe.
In a press release last Thursday, Childers said that plans for school opening reflect guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Georgia Department of Education (GADOE), state and local health officials and input from the community.
“As we move toward the start of a new year, our team is emphasizing flexibility while still maintaining high-quality educational opportunities for all students. Rabun County Schools Leadership Team has been working diligently to develop a comprehensive reopening plan for our staff and students this fall,” according to the press release.
Included in the “road map for reopening Rabun County Schools” plans are two options for curriculum method: traditional school setting (100 percent face-to-face daily) or via virtual learning (100 percent online).
Currently, this plan is expected to be in effect for the first semester only.
“We will reevaluate in November,” Childers said about a decision about whether to pursue this same plan for the second half of the school year, in an interview last Friday.
She said that 421 students signed up for virtual learning and 1,557 opted for face to face instruction.
Childers said that there are about 2,300 students total enrolled at Rabun County Schools and that school officials are in the process of contacting families who have not yet chosen an option.
The face-to-face open house and meet your teacher will be by appointment only.
Pre-K- 6th grade students will receive an email one week before school starts regarding scheduling an appointment, said Kelly McKay, assistant superintendent, last Friday.
Middle school students should contact the school to set up an appointment, she said.
McKay said that she encourages anyone who has questions or concerns about anything to contact their school or the central office at 706-212-4350. She said that they are very receptive to questions and concerns.
Technology training for faculty and staff
In preparation for the start of school, faculty and staff members attended technology training in the Fine Arts Building (FAB) last Friday.
Childers spoke to attendees and said that the goal was to give employees the training and tools they need to do their jobs and take care of the children during the school year.
“If you’re more than six ft. apart while teaching, then you can take it [mask] off,” she said about teachers giving instruction in the classroom.
Childers said that educators will be required to keep detailed, specific records this year so that proper steps can be taken if a child tests positive for COVID-19.