- Gwinnett County School District
- GCPS News
Gwinnett County Public Schools announces transition to digital learning for the week of January 19-22
CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks announced today that Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) will temporarily transition all in-person learners to digital instruction beginning Tuesday, January 19. (Monday, January 18, is a school holiday.) District leaders will monitor the COVID situation and its effects on staffing to determine its ability to resume in-person instruction on Monday, January 25.
In making this decision, Mr. Wilbanks said “As students returned to in-person and digital instruction this semester, we acknowledged the need to monitor the impact the rising COVID numbers within our community might have on our schools. The reality is that our school system—like our community and the state— is feeling the results of the holidays and winter break. We are experiencing higher numbers of cases, suspected cases, and close contacts among our in-person students and staff. The move to 100% digital learning for the coming week will allow us to effectively serve students while also doing what is best for our students and staff given the current situation.
“The decision to shift to digital is not one that is made lightly,” he said. “However, it is a possibility we have planned for, knowing that the safety of students and staff and our ability to effectively serve students are priorities. While we fully intend to honor the choices our families made for their children in regard to receiving instruction in-person or digitally, the bottomline is that we must have the staff on hand in order to be able to do so.”
Mr. Wilbanks noted that the post-break impact on the district’s ability to effectively staff schools and serve students is a concern. On January 12, GCPS experienced 125 new reports involving employees who tested positive, were suspected of having COVID and were being tested, or had been identified as close contacts. These new cases brought the district’s total number of staff out of school or work to 785, with 460 of those being teachers. This issue is compounded by the shortage of substitutes available, an issue that school districts across the nation are experiencing.
The shift to digital learning next week for all students, coupled with the observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, January 18), will provide the time needed for many of our employees who are currently quarantined to return to work. “We understand that the move to 100 percent digital may create hardships for families. That said, we do feel that this is a necessary measure that will provide time for ill employees to get well and for those who are quarantined to be cleared for return to school and work,” Mr. Wilbanks said.
Students will be expected to complete their lessons digitally each day and attendance will be documented. Teachers will report to their schools to deliver their digital lessons. As was done last spring, teachers who have school-aged children will be allowed to bring them to school.
GCPS will offer meal service during this transition to digital learning (Jan. 19-22). Meals will be available for curbside pick-up at schools, and, the district will deliver meals along all bus routes countywide during this time. Families should expect buses to run their routes from approximately 10:45 a.m. to noon, beginning at the first stops on the route.
Updates regarding the return to in-person learning on Monday, January 25, will be shared on the district website and through SchoolMessenger messages.