GSCS switches back to remote learning

Griffin-Spalding County Schools System interim Superintendent Dr. Donald Warren speaks to the board during a school board meeting on Dec. 1.

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring, the Griffin-Spalding County Schools System is headed back to a remote learning model.

“Out of an abundance of caution, due to the current increase in COVID-19 cases in Spalding County, GSCS students will return to virtual at-home learning when they resume classes on January 6 (Wednesday), following the Christmas break,” interim Superintendent Dr. Donald Warren said in the press release issued Thursday evening.

Through Sunday there had been 2,643 confirmed cases (3,824.34 per 100,000), 86 confirmed deaths and 12 probable deaths in Spalding County, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Georgia also recorded the highest number of new cases (11,709) on Dec. 31 since the pandemic began, with another 11,137 new cases also recorded on Jan. 1, while the active case rate across the state reached a record 331,183 on Sunday, according to worldometers.info.

The statistics locally and statewide are mirroring trends nationally where a single-day record 3,880 deaths were recorded on Dec. 30, a day after 3,716 deaths were recorded on Dec. 29 and a day before 3,578 deaths were recorded on Dec. 31.

“The Board is very much aware of the spiking number of COVID-19 cases and ... (is) concerned for our staff and families of Griffin-Spalding,” said GSCS Board of Education Chairman Will Doss. “We are fully supportive of the decision to delay the start of in-person learning as a precaution and for the safety of all parties involved.”

The system met for about two hours Thursday to consider the action.

The final outcome of the meeting, was stated as follows in the release that students will not report to school buildings, but they will complete learning tasks from home, via Chromebooks, until further notice. This decision will be re-evaluated in the coming weeks, with a possible return to in-person learning on Jan. 19.

The school system originally went to a virtual model when the pandemic first reached our area in March, ultimately switching to all virtual to close out last school year from April 1 on.

The new school year started in August with students and faculty spending some part of the school week, in a multitude of configurations, on campus across the system.

Teachers and staff were included in the latest changes.

Thursday’s release states that teachers and staff members will be permitted to complete their professional duties and responsibilities from home, until further notice. School buildings and the central office will remain open to employees who need access to the internet and other resources and materials to complete their job functions.

One area that was not effected by the changes was high school athletics.

According to the release high school athletics will continue as planned per the Georgia High School Association guidelines.

The GHSA, which just hosted 10 football state championships Dec. 28 to 30 in Atlanta, posted its latest statements regarding the “Coronavirus situation” on Dec. 15. In it the GHSA states that, it “has allowed local districts to make decisions that are appropriate for their communities while working with their local departments of health.”

The GHSA approves local districts to implement a “return to practice/play policy” suggested by the GHSA (too long to list here), while also suggesting each district continue to work with its “Department of Public Health when amending your Infectious Disease Plan.”

The release issued by the GSCS system stated all middle school athletic activities are canceled until in-person school resumes.