Coweta County Schools to restart in-person instruction on Sept. 8

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From Coweta County Schools Press Release

The Coweta County School System will restart in-person instruction on Tuesday, Sept. 8 for all students who opt for it.

Schools will gradually phase in a return to face-to-face class instruction, with priority given to special education and younger students.  The Empower online learning option will continue to be available to all parents who choose for their students to remain.

Before all grades are opened to in-person instruction for students, Pre-K through 1st grade students can start earlier, on Friday, Sept. 4. This early restart day for younger students is optional.

Coweta Schools will also allow those special education students most in need of service (students on an adapted curriculum model) to return early to all schools on Thursday, Sept. 3.  Parents of eligible special needs students will receive a notification from the district Special Education office if their child is eligible for an early start.

Students may may opt to continue with virtual learning when in-person classes begin. Parents who signed up for the Empower online option prior to August 13 do not need to do so again.  Parents who wish to change their child’s earlier declared status – from online to in-person, or in-person to online learning – will be able to do so here from Aug. 26 through Aug. 30.

The start dates for a phased return to in-person instruction will be:

Thursday, Sept. 3 – Special Education, Adapted Curriculum students only, in all schools (special education faculty will notify parents directly)

Friday, Sept. 4 – Elementary School early grades (PreK-1st Grade)

Tuesday, Sept. 8 – Elementary Schools (All Grades PreK-5th Grade)
                                    Middle & High Schools (All Grades 6th-12th Grade hybrid, names ending A-K in 1st week)

Monday, Sept. 14 – Middle and High Schools (All Grades 6th-12th Grade hybrid, names ending L-Z in 2nd week). Students will alternate week-to-week thereafter.

Because transmission rates of COVID-19 have remained in the category of “Substantial Spread”, all students in grade 2 and up will be required to wear face masks or coverings when at school or riding the school bus. This and other additional mitigative measures have been incorporated into Coweta schools’ plans for return, and Coweta’s planning has been reviewed by the Georgia Department of Public Health and local Emergency Management officials.

The school system will bring back middle and high school grades in a “hybrid” model which will allow half the students to attend on an alternating-week basis, to allow for greater social distancing in school.

In middle and high school hybrid schedules, half the students (divided by last name, A-K) can return for in-person the first week of Sept. 8, and the other half (last names starting L-Z) can return the second week, on Monday, Sept. 14.  A hybrid schedule will reduce the numbers of in-school instruction by half each day, allowing for greater social distancing.

Middle and high schools will communicate with parents before September 8 regarding their student’s scheduled attendance times under the hybrid model.  Parents of middle or high school students who have questions or concerns about their student’s scheduled attendance days under the hybrid option should call their school’s counseling office or principal.

Elementary schools, which typically have smaller class sizes, will not follow a hybrid model, and Pre-K through 5th grade students who opt for face-to-face instruction can attend every day.

Special education faculty will notify parents of adapted curriculum students who can begin to return on Thursday, Sept. 3.  Adapted curriculum students will also be allowed to attend in-person middle and high school classes every day after the full start on Sept. 8.

Parents of special education students can call the district’s Special Education office at 770-254-2800 with questions.

Parents who wish to change their student’s previous designation (for Empower online, or in-person instruction) can do so online (here).  Parents who have questions about their previous option should contact their child’s homeroom teacher or school principal.

“While COVID-19 data has shown promising directions in recent health reports, the case and transmission rates of the disease remain high in our state and in Coweta County,” said Coweta Superintendent Evan Horton. “Because of that, we have taken additional steps with our return to school plan, including hybrid schedules for middle and high school, requiring face masks for students and employees, and additional mitigative steps taken in classrooms to provide for a safer learning environment.”

Horton said that school districts around Georgia have approached the start of the school year during the current COVID-19 spike in a number of ways, including all online instruction, hybrid schedules, and partial and full openings.  “Various approaches have been tried, with mixed results, in communities that have both higher and lower spread levels than we have in Coweta.”

“We all want to get back to face-to-face instruction for students.  We have tried to plan for the best and safest approaches to achieve that, while still maintaining the virtual option for students so that families can make choices,” said Horton

“We should all remain aware, however, that COVID-19 will continue to be a fact of life in our community for the time being, and it may at times impede our ability to provide in-person instruction on a class level or school level,” he said.  Though the school system has substitute rosters in place, some classes – notably special education classes – may be particularly affected if staff members have to enter COVID-19 quarantine, because of the difficulty in finding qualified substitute teachers.

“Our schools, district administration and health services will continue to monitor and adjust our plans as necessary as we navigate through this next phase of our school year,” said Horton.  “As always, I appreciate our school system faculty and staff members, and I appreciate the grace and support of our families and community.”

As the system continues to monitor COVID-19 levels in the county, and returns to optional in-person instruction, other steps the county is taking include:

• Continuing to consult with state and local health and emergency authorities.

• Continuing to plan, refine health assessment protocols, train staff and adapt schools and classrooms.

• Establishing system and school-level COVID-19 response teams to provide site-based response and communicate with parents when COVID-related concerns arise at schools.

• Establishing an online dashboard of COVID-19 data so that parents can monitor conditions at the system and school level.

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