Overview of Information about Options for Fall 2020
Parents/Guardians of Students in Gwinnett County Public Schools,
Gwinnett County Public Schools is preparing to start the 2020-21 school year. On July 7, the Gwinnett County Board of Education voted to change the first day of school from Aug. 5 to Aug. 12. As part of the planning process for the new school year, district leaders gathered feedback from families about their preferred way to return to school. A survey completed in mid-June showed that 43% of parents prefer a return to in-person instruction; 34% prefer 100% digital learning; and 23% prefer an option that combines in-person instruction with digital learning.
Gwinnett County Public Schools considered this feedback and other relevant information available at the time. We thoroughly studied combining in-person and digital learning. The many challenges related to this option make it one the school system cannot effectively manage with existing resources. Therefore, it was determined that the most prudent course of action is to open the school year with in-person instruction, along with an option for digital learning, for students in grades K-12.
For immediate planning purposes, we will be asking all families to tell us which option they prefer for each of their children:
1) In-person instruction at their child’s school; or
2) Digital learning for their child at home.
Students will attend school based on the option chosen for all of first semester (through December). A change may be made after the first nine weeks, if it is needed to better serve the student.
On Monday, June 29, an email was sent to the enrolling parent of every GCPS student. In it, that parent is asked to select one of the two options for each student in the home. Decisions must be made by July 12. Students in families who do not select an option by July 12 will be assigned to in-person instruction. Families will receive verification of their selection for each child.
Before making this important decision for your student(s), please review the information below. Think carefully about what digital learning and in-person instruction will look like, and which would best serve your child(ren).
What to expect at school in the fall…
- Families should self-screen at home. It is recommended that families take temperatures daily before going to school. Anyone with a fever of 100.4 F or higher should not go to a school site. Students and adults also should screen themselves for respiratory symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath prior to coming to school each day.
- Periodic screenings, including random temperature checks, will be conducted. Students and staff with COVID-19 symptoms or a temperature of 100.4+ will be isolated immediately and sent home.
- All students and employees must stay home if they have COVID-19 symptoms, tested positive, or had close contact with a person with COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
- For those who are ill, health dept. guidelines will be followed for return to school/work.
- Frequent handwashing encouraged, with breaks for scheduled handwashing at ES level. We also will recommend bringing hand sanitizer from home.
- Cleaning/disinfecting of buildings, surfaces, and high-touch objects will be done more frequently. Ventilation systems will be monitored for proper operation.
- Buses will be cleaned/disinfected after morning/afternoon routes.
- GCPS is asking those who attend and/or work at its schools— as well as those who drive buses and work in other GCPS facilities— to wear a face covering or mask to minimize the spread of illness, and keep students and staff members safe. A lower incidence of illness also will contribute to schools being able to return to normal operations. If a student is not willing to wear a mask or face covering, he or she should consider digital learning. Accommodations will be made for students or employees unable to wear a mask for documented health reasons.
- As social distancing will be a challenge in schools and on school buses, GCPS is asking those who attend and/or work at its schools— as well as those who drive buses and work in other GCPS facilities— to wear a face covering or mask to minimize the spread of illness, and keep students and staff members safe. A lower incidence of illness also will contribute to schools being able to return to normal operations. Accommodations will be made for students or employees unable to wear a mask for documented health reasons.
- Schools will limit visitors; serve meals in classrooms; stagger lunch, playground, and class-change schedules; and hold meetings/events virtually as possible.
- Where feasible, rooms will be arranged with student desks facing the same direction and students seated at tables will sit on the same side.
- Students will be discouraged from sharing books, materials, supplies, or equipment, including devices and equipment used for athletics/PE.
- Cleaning/disinfecting protocols will be used in computer labs, media centers, and athletic facilities.
- Cafeteria keypads will be replaced with a barcode scanning system.
- Water fountains will be closed. Students will be encouraged to bring water from home.
Digital Learning Option
- The expectations for students participating in digital learning in the fall of 2020 will be the same as for those attending in-school in terms of attendance, grading, and accountability.
- For the most part, the digital learning day will follow the same operational hours as the in-person school day.
- For those, who choose digital learning, students will need access to reliable internet and devices. Sharing a device is not recommended as multiple students in a family would “attend” digital lessons at the same time during the school day.
- During the spring, we learned that parent involvement is a key to successful digital learning as students may need parental assistance during the digital learning school day.