Students return to school August 7th : What to expect

Lifestyle

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Students of the Fannin County School System (FCSS) will have the option of returning to school in a modified traditional setting or utilizing online learning for the 2020-21 school year.

School Administration released their plans for reopening schools at the Board of Education (BOE) regular July meeting.

Assistant Superintendent Sarah Rigdon gave the board an overview of what to expect when school comes back into session. 

Fannin County, School System, Board of Education, Reopening, First Day, School Year, 2020, 2021, 2020-21, Covid-19, Coronavirus, Department of Education, Georgia, Online Learning, Traditional, Superintendent, Michael Gwatney, Sarah Rigdon, Masks, Safety

Rigdon presented the BOE with administration’s plan to reopen schools.

The Georgia Department of Education (DOE) released guidelines in early June for schools to consider when reopening in the State of Georgia. These guidelines, however, were only recommendations and the ultimate decisions for school operations were left up to the districts.

The DOE guidelines, along with guidance from both local and state authorities, as well as guardian and faculty input helped shape the approach that the FCSS is choosing to implement for the time being.

“The important part for us was to get the information and make the best decisions that we can,” Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney spoke of the system’s plan. “This plan is subject to change. We need to think of this as a living document. It will be modified as new things are learned.”

 

***Important Dates***

Traditional school, or in person education will begin on August 7, 2020.

Faculty and Staff are to report on August 3, 2020.

Online Learning will also begin on August 7, 2020.

Parents and Guardians may enroll their child for Online Learning between July 10 – July 20, 2020.

 

***Online Learning***

For those not comfortable with the traditional in class setting, an online option will be available. Assistant Superintendent Rigdon stressed that this online option will not mirror the distance learning that the school put in place upon the mandatory closure earlier this year.

The online learning platform will be run through a 3rd party that is yet to be determined. The platform will provide instruction to the child with the parent or guardian being a “learning coach”.

Students enrolled in online learning will spend the majority of the traditional school day (8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) either working online or working to complete assignments given online. Attendance will be taken and monitored via login and assignments completed.

There will be FCSS personnel assigned to check on each child’s progress. The “learning coaches” will be given the name of someone at the school who can help them navigate the program or assist with issues.

The content of the online learning platform, according to FCSS, will be “rigorous and graded”.

Students enrolled in Online Learning will be able to participate in sports and extracurricular activities. 

While the FCSS is not requiring that students sign a contract to remain in the online platform once enrolled (many other districts have this requirement), they would like to see those enrolled stay with the program through the first semester or for the entirety of the school year.

“We are not asking parents to sign a commitment, but we do want them to be extremely thoughtful as they make that decision because it is going to require us to allocate and spend funds that could be better spent if they’re not going to stick with the program,” Rigdon explained of the need for students and guardians to consider the decision heavily.

Rigdon did add for those who enroll but discover that the online platform is not working for them, “We are never turning a child away from our schools.”

Students utilizing the Online Learning platform will complete assignments from a school issued device. FCSS will provide a WiFi hotspot for students without internet, but these hotspots work much like mobile phones, so if you are an area with poor cell phone service it is likely that the hotspot would not work for you.

Online Learning is available for children in grades Kindergarten – 12. This includes children with IEPs (Individualized Educational Program). Online Learning is not available for Pre-K students.

 

***Traditional School***

Masks are optional for both students and personnel. Parents or Guardians must provide a mask for students who wish to wear one throughout the day.

Temperatures will be taken for all students, staff, parents and guardians each morning upon arriving at the campus. Anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will not be permitted to stay at school. 

Hand sanitizer will be available to all children and adults before entering the school buildings.

Fannin County, School System, Board of Education, Reopening, First Day, School Year, 2020, 2021, 2020-21, Covid-19, Coronavirus, Department of Education, Georgia, Online Learning, Traditional, Superintendent, Michael Gwatney, Sarah Rigdon, Masks, Safety

Parents, Guardians, and Staff completed a survey on key issues. This helped shape the district’s plan to reopen.

Elementary teachers will move the students instead of students changing classes. Middle and High School students will not be allowed to congregate in hallways. When and where possible class changes for Middle and High School students will be staggered or hallway traffic patterns will be addressed to prevent overcrowding.

When possible students will be assigned seats and will keep the same seat during the instructional class period.

Each school will “develop school level procedures” to limit the number of students in the cafeteria. This may include “grab and go” where students will pick up meals and eat in a classroom or designated area.

The final plan for buses has not been finalized. However, hand sanitizer will be available for anyone upon boarding a bus. Buses will be sanitized daily and ventilated to the extent feasible when in route.

Parents and guardians will be notified of any adjustments to bus routes or pick up times before the first day of school. Requirement to wear a mask while on a bus has not been decided, but parents and guardians will be notified of this decision as well.

Parents and guardians will be allowed to walk their child to class during the first few days of school but must wear a mask.  Schools will determine when parents and guardians will no longer have access beyond the main entrance.  

FCSS states “We want to keep the lines of communication strong, but we need to limit the number of people flowing into and out of the buildings each day.”

 

***If Schools Close Again***

Those students enrolled in Online Learning would continue the course that they are taking with no change. Students of the traditional classroom setting would switch to online learning but follow a model similar to that that was implemented in March 2020.

 

The FCSS states of the opening plan that “plans may change based on future orders from the Governor, the Department of Community Health, or the Department of Education”.

“Our desire is always to operate a traditional school with face to face,” Rigdon said of the hope for all students eventually to return to a traditional setting, “We believe our instruction is best at that level.”

Ask The Doc! Ratios and Better Masks

Lifestyle
ask the doc, virus, information

BKP is joined by Dr. William Whaley and Dr. Raymond Tidman to discuss the most recent medical news. Dr. Raymond Tidman asks for a better masks that don’t collect fluid throughout the day. The doctors also discuss the importance of putting out ratios.

Sponsored by North Georgia Cancer Research Specialists, affiliated with Northside Hospital, you can follow more on Ask the Doc! through the dedicated playlist on FYNTV’s Youtube channel and check out a wider variety of shows there as well.

Ask the Doc! Changing the goal posts and what to believe

Lifestyle
ask the doc, virus, information

Special Host Rick speaks with Dr. William Whaley about the CDC, Masks, and what goals we’re still trying to reach to reopen and reconnect amid the virus. Should we be wearing them? Will there be a vaccine? What about the surfaces? The doctor ansers viral questions about what you should know and prepare with for the outbreak.

Sponsored by North Georgia Cancer Research Specialists, affiliated with Northside Hospital, you can follow more on Ask the Doc! through the dedicated playlist on FYNTV’s Youtube channel and check out a wider variety of shows there as well.

Blue Ridge Community Theater : Sewing Good Deeds in a Time of Crisis

Fetching Featured

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Volunteers at the Blue Ridge Community Theater (BRCT) are stepping up in a big way to give support to local agencies and citizens, as we all face the Covid-19 pandemic together.

To quote the great William Shakespeare: “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves”, and the volunteers at BRCT are doing just that, by shining a light of purpose in what is a dark time for many.

The mission of the volunteers came about when a dialysis clinic in Chattanooga, Tn. put out a call that they were in desperate need of face masks for their patients. This clinic asked for the public’s help in getting 600 masks.

Blue Ridge Community Theater, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Masks, Volunteer, Family Connection, Giving Back, Covid-19

BRCT volunteer showing a sewn mask.

The volunteers at BRCT stepped up to answer this call. Head Seamstress, Kim Westcott spoke of the group coming together, “We sew costumes. We’re good sewers,” and added, “We’ve got lots of material, unsuitable for costumes but it’s perfect for this!”

Each mask must meet certain guidelines and specifications, among these the material used must be 100 percent cotton.

Westcott talked about how people, especially quilters, across the nation are stepping up to make the washable masks to help curb the shortage of this very necessary item: “This is a grassroots effort by every quilter out there.” 

Westcott pointed out that quilters know their material and have 100% cotton material that is required on hand.

Of the requested 600 masks to the dialysis clinic, the BRCT volunteers produced around 50 and delivered them. As of Friday, March 27, the clinic had received over 400 masks.

BRCT has since reached out to several local agencies and will continue making masks for the area. Some of the masks made have gone to CASA (court appointed special advocate) volunteers to give to grandparents who are guardians of younger children, some have gone to volunteers that continue to work at the local food bank and of course, many masks will be sent to Fannin Regional Hospital.

The volunteers have received essential status from the City of Blue Ridge, allowing them to continue production during the city’s declared State of Emergency.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Westcott said of being able to help during this nationwide crisis, “As long as we have a place to deliver them to, we’ll be making them.” 

The eight volunteers have now fine tuned the production process in an assembly line fashion, and Westcott says this method is very efficient, “Now that we’ve got the process down, we can probably turn out 30 to 40 a day.”

When asked how many masks the group anticipates making and giving away, Westcott replied, “We’ll give them everything we get and we’ll keep making them until this whole crisis passes.”

Beyond mask production, BRCT has partnered with Family Connection in collecting donations for their food bank services. The theater was able to make 5-6 deliveries last week to this cause.

Volunteers from the theater are also out delivering groceries, medications and other essential items to people who are quarantined or at too high of risk to leave their homes.

Westcott asks that in lieu of donations for mask making productions, that people please consider donating food and essential items to the theater to be delivered to Family Connection.

The theater currently has enough material to produce around 1,000 masks. 

 

Keep Up-to-date With Covid-19 in Fannin County by Clicking Here

Featured Images in article are courtesy of the Blue Ridge Community Theater Facebook Page.

Note: BRCT response to question regarding social distancing : “While we did gather together for a picture, each woman has her own station where she assembles her portion of the masks. We are blessed to have a very large costume Room, so we try to give them as much space as possible!”

Back to Top