August 9, 2020

Superintendent Kay provides important update on Heard County’s 2020-2021 school year

Brave Nation:

I hope you are all having a restful summer.

To say we are in uncharted territory would be stating the obvious.

Being in unfamiliar territory makes us all feel uneasy, uncomfortable, and sometimes, down right scared. We understand your fears and frustrations as we share them too.

But, as we continue to look toward the 20-21 school year, we feel we must continue to move forward, and at this point, continuing to move forward means we share our intentions.

As of today, Monday, July 6th, our intention is to hold face to face schooling for our children in Heard County. As you can imagine, that comes with its own set of challenges and we are continuing to work on those.

The mission of the Heard County School System is to educate children. We strive daily to do so in the safest environment possible, and because of the support of our community we have done that effectively.

As we prepare for the 20-21 school year, we will need the same support that has brought us to where we are today. I realize, and most importantly, respect the fact that some of you will not feel comfortable sending your children to school during times such as these.

I hope that you will realize, and also respect, that due to the size of our school system, we cannot fulfill everyone’s wishes and expectations as to how they believe the 20-21 school year should play out. With that said, there is one additional option for middle and high school students currently.

The Heard County School System, in conjunction with the GA Department of Education will have the ability to enroll middle and high school students into GA Virtual School.

Should you choose this route for your child the student would still be considered a“Heard County” student, but would be enrolled in virtual classes which would have assigned teachers from the Department of Education serving as instructors.

If you would like more information regarding this please contact the middle or high school and they can give you more information.

Below there are links to three important communication pieces: The video message above this article, and two accompanying precaution documents below regarding the 20-21 school year.

We want you all to know that no decision that has been made up to this point, or any decisions which will be made in the future, will be done in a “knee jerk” fashion.

There has been a great deal of effort put into hearing from many stakeholders. Our faculty/staff surveys returned over 200 responses and our community stakeholder survey returned over 500 responses. Over 80% of people who responded requested face to face instruction with reasonable precautions.

With those responses and information from the GA Department of Education and the GA Department of Public Health we have arrived at where we are today.

Regarding what’s to come, I can only say that I expect changes in recommendations from the state government as the situation continues to unfold on a daily basis.

As a school system, we will adjust accordingly and continue to communicate with our stakeholders. Thank you in advance for your support, and we look forward to seeing our children on Wednesday, August 5th.

Elementary Precautions

Middle/High Precautions

Respectfully,

Rodney Kay

Heard County School Superintendent

Comments

  1. Kelly A Obracay says

    Just curious but yesterday Brian Kemp has made our state a state of emergency because of all the riding etc what are we going to do about that and this Corona is not gone

    • Its o load of carp that the elementary kids dont have a choice to go thru the same virtual program that the older kids are taking. Why would you want the smaller children to be at a higher risk what kind of solution is that. My baby wont be there there are other options thru other programs just sad that my child cant participate thru heard county like everyone else with out possible veing exposed to something so bad. Sounds like a money move and not obe that really focuses on the childrens safety. How about virtual for everyone or send work home like was done at the end of the year which my child completed learned from and advanced to the 1st grade. Ridiculous. Because 80 percent of random people in heard county say they want face to face in school. I know parents that send there kids to school sick or with lice because they dont care they use school as a daycare. Who took that into consideration. How about a survey to people that are more qualified than we all are and see how that turns out. And I aint talking about a school nurse come on guys

      • Kelly A Obracay says

        I agree with that too

      • I never was asked my opinion, not really sure where the 80% percent came in. I agree with the above. Why cant elementary be offered the same? Side question… We can have graduation with family and friends but cant do prom which could be way more controlled?? Why not do prom out doors and give everyone a temp check as they arrive? Why not postpone prom? And where is their prom dues if they aren’t getting prom? They already lost so much, now financially too?

  2. I will take my child out and do home school I will not take that chance its ridiculous. Why can’t the children in elemetary have a way to do school work from home thats crazy, my little girl finished kindergarten by doing work at home. That makes no sense my babies will not be going I will do home school if th at is all y’all can come up with. By the way just because a bunch of people with an OPINION does not make it safe enough to go to school. How many were doctors. I hope y’all do better and realize this is not a solution

  3. Amanda white says

    From a teacher friend: 🍏For those of you saying “If essential workers can work, teachers can work, and our kids need to be in school!” I get where you’re coming from. I want you to imagine the first day of school.

    🍏Kids will get on the bus. They will be packed together, because my district (like many) has ruled that it is too expensive and time-consuming to do staggered bussing. They will be excited to see their friends, and they will talk, share items, and do all the things they missed doing on the bus, and this will be great for their emotional health. Eventually some of them will take off their masks, because one or two kids didn’t come with one to begin with, and who’s scared of this thing anyway?

    And so, before 10am, you have had your first super-spreader event in the district. No, the kids may not all get sick, but a few of them will. A few of those will die, as we’ve seen in news reports. They probably won’t be your child, so this does not matter to you. It is a sacrifice you were prepared to make.

    🍏Kids will enter school. If this is done in a staggered manner, we will lose significant instructional time. Kids will sit at their desks, and if they are in a Title I school like mine where most parents can not afford to stay home and support kids during Digital Learning, we will have at least 80% of the population in the classroom. A classroom with truly socially distanced desks can seat about 8 people. Realistically, we will have 25-30 children packed together. Some of them will play with their masks or, if their parents are anti-mask, they will refuse to have those masks on.

    🍏A teacher will now have to teach in a classroom where they are no longer allowed to have group activities, so vital for young learners, unless they are in a contactless digital format. Hopefully the school will have enough computers for those students without their own devices. Hopefully the teacher will be able to maneuver quickly enough to stop students from Snapchatting their friends, or logging on to any number of non-educational websites, so that they can do their lesson.

    A teacher will also have to choose between instructing effectively and protecting themselves and the people they may care for at home. Proximity is key to classroom management. Social distancing is not compatible with it. Students who do not wear masks may see reduced teacher attention, because again, teachers are being asked to choose between their health and their effectiveness.

    🍏Lunchtime arrives. Students have to take their masks off to eat. In my district, we will be eating in classrooms, and my school’s windows do not open. Staggered lunches do not help once the masks are off and students are eating and talking and, because they miss their friends, clustering together. A teacher will have to choose between eating, separating students, and their health.

    🍏Time to change classes. If students are the ones transitioning, instead of a teacher rotating between classrooms, we lose valuable instructional time to sanitizing. Do we have enough wipes and sprays to sanitize four or more times a day? Hopefully you donated some, because now a teacher may have to choose between their finances and *everyone’s* health.

    🍏Novel study time. Do we have enough books for 100+ middle schoolers? Don’t make me laugh. Every student will need to sanitize before and after touching a book. You won’t pay for ebooks and you won’t pay for physical books, but we hope you will donate hand sanitizer.

    🍏Chorus. Orchestra. Band. These teachers are talking about reducing class sizes to 80+. *Reducing* them. For their safety.

    🍏Time to go home. Students get on the bus again. A second super-spreader event occurs across the district.

    🍏Now, let’s talk about how things go after Day 1:

    A child tests positive for COVID-19. The parents fear retaliation from peers and do not report it to the school; they just keep their child at home and hope it blows over.

    A child is sick with fever. A parent gives them Tylenol and sends them to school.

    A child who interacted with the child whose parents did not report tests positive and parents report this. Students and teachers that interacted with the child have to quarantine for 14 days. That’s 14 days of the Digital Learning we were trying to avoid in the first place. In middle school, if a teacher tests positive, that will mean 100+ kids are staying home with parents, and all of their teachers, too. This will happen again and again. All of the promised consistency, routine, structure, everything you wanted for your children, is gone, and you are not prepared to help them with DL.

    A child in a community with high COVID-19 exposure becomes sick with MIS-C. More children contract MIS-C. This was a sacrifice you did not realize you were making, but it does not affect your child, so it does not concern you.

    🍏Now for the community spread.

    The virus will find many opportunities to flourish in a school, no matter how carefully the teachers and staff strive to curb it. The resources simply are not being given to them. Children will spread the virus to parents, siblings, grandparents (especially in multigenerational homes), and inevitably, people who shop and work outside of their homes. The spike we see now, that began in June, will pale in comparison to what follows.

    🍏And some teachers, nurses, custodians, and principals will die. But that’s a footnote to you; what about the learning outcomes? The academic gains?

    Well? What will those be?

    –Ellison Mitchell

  4. Mr. Robert G. Baratta says

    Just my take all, until this ALL passes teach the kids from home PLEASE! I use to work in NYC on Wall street and it was ok for me to work from home before all of this started I got more done at home no distractions and did not catch anything. So No loss of children please TEACH them from home lets keep it simple please in my humble opinion. Thank you
    rgb

  5. Kelly A Obracay says

    I agree with you on this there has to be a better solution than sending our kids back into the heart and heat of it all this spreading not to mention the variety riots going on throughout our state alone the end of last year worked wonderfully why can’t teachers work like that I’m thankful for taking the sub teaching classes able to be a sub teacher classification it helps me have my own children at home during the pandemic and teaching them online it was a breathe they love seeing each other on the Google classroom and my kids excelled the rest of the year even in times of trauma

  6. Josie Bell says

    I agree to teach them at home,I agree school should not go back yet, protect our children they are tomorrows future…

  7. Stacy Henderson says

    Why don’t y’all do what some other counties are doing? Have a b students. Where a students go to school on Monday and Tuesday and b students go on Thursday and Friday and for the older kids do shook online on Wednesday. Or a students Monday and Thursday and b students Tuesday and Friday and same on Wednesday. I think this would help with lowering the risk and y’all can sanatize everyday after school to ensure there is nothing for the students to catch the next day. I also wouldn’t do sports or band outside of school to prevent from being around large crowds. Yes they should eat in class. I do believe the food should be delivered to the students in their class another way to help prevent the spread. Also I would have you strongly encourage students washing hands constant and have all parents have sanitizer for their child at school and after they wash hands to sanitize. I know this sounds alot but all our kids and teachers lives are at stake so I don’t think anything is too much. I really do believe school should be cancelled for the whole year so we know that it’s safer to be at school.

  8. As a medical professional who has worked around COVID-19, and who has lost a coworker to the virus, I believe it is too early to hold school face-to-face and NOT require students and staff to wear masks, especially since the recent uptick in the number of cases. I do not believe the results of the staff survey are accurate, and if they are true, the staff obviously do not care about the safety and well-being of their students, nor the students’ family members.

    P.S. Just because someone does not have a temperature or any other symptoms, it does not mean that they do not have COVID-19. A person can be asymptomatic (i.e. they show no symptoms) and still test positive for the virus, and can spread the virus.

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