We are excited to be able to extend the partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer the families in our community farm boxes this upcoming Tuesday, August 4, 2020. These boxes contain fresh fruit and vegetables, along with a gallon of milk. These will be available for pickup on a first come, first serve basis from 10:30 - 11:30 am at Banks County Middle School. Please enter at the entrance closest to the Recreation Department. The boxes will be distributed curbside in front of the cafeteria. Please be sure to remain in your vehicle at all times.
The return date for students has been changed to Wednesday, August 19th for Banks County Schools.
This delayed start is not based on COVID-19 spread within our community. We have been in constant communication with state and local health officials monitoring the virus as it relates to our area. These same health officials are in favor of our safe reopening and support our system’s return-to-school plan.
The calendar change is being implemented to allow us to train all staff regarding the new guidelines that we are implementing AND to help us prepare for our students based on where we left off in March. We are also going to use this time to prepare for the “online option” that some of our parents have requested. Finally, we will use these additional days to make preparations should there be a need to transition in the future from traditional in-person instruction to the online format.
With a great deal of consideration and in an effort to proceed while keeping our students and staff safe, we have made some other changes to our plans. After communicating these plans to you, we will release this information to the community.
There are still many unknowns and ever-changing information relative to Covid-19. There will undoubtedly be additional cases in our community as awareness and testing increase. The health and wellbeing of every student, every member of our staff, and every community member is of the utmost importance to us.
As a school system, our approach is to focus on the cleanliness of our facilities and hygiene for individuals. We will continually emphasize sterilizing areas most impacted by student activity. Students and staff who are sick or running a fever are mandated to stay home. If a student or staff member is identified as being sick or having a fever, they will not be allowed to return to school until 24 hours without a fever (with no fever reducing medication). HIPAA regulations prohibit the school system from notifying other parents or community members regarding other individuals’ health matters. As a result of these federal guidelines, no public announcements will be made in the event a student or staff member is sick, running a fever, is being tested or is positive for COVID-19. School system administrators will communicate with the local and state health department officials with regard to monitoring data and implementing protocol.
If a student has health concerns that puts him/her at a greater health risk or if there is a family situation that heightens health risk by him/her attending school in person, there will be an online curriculum available to the student. Parents with these concerns will need to contact the school before July 17th to set up a meeting with the counselor/administrator to work through timelines, expectations, and support plans to ensure we are maximizing the education of the child. Please note that this online learning will look different than what was offered at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. This digital learning option will require a significant commitment from students and parents as it will be a full semester commitment (beginning of school until Christmas break). Attendance, grading and accountability expectations will be consistent for students participating in digital learning with the expectations for students participating in traditional/face- to-face instruction. Specials/connections/elective courses may be limited for those students choosing the digital option. Because of health concerns, students utilizing the online learning option should not participate in extracurricular activities.
Please join us in encouraging everyone to practice social distancing when possible, washing hands frequently, eating healthy, hydrating, staying active, and getting plenty of rest. Masks and gloves will be optional for students and staff.
As new data emerges throughout fall 2020 and beyond, the structure of schooling, our guidelines, and our approach may change rapidly and differ from these described. Banks County Schools will inform the community should changes be necessary.
We look forward to a wonderful school year beginning August 7th!
Ann L. Hopkins, Ed. D.