The Long County Board of Education met in regular monthly session Monday in Ludowici to discuss the Fiscal Year 2021 budget and the Long County School System reopening plan for the Fall 2020 semester during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fiscal Year 2021 budget for Long County Schools will be presented at two public workshop meetings scheduled for August 3 at 5:30 p.m. and August 10 at 5 p.m. before the August Long County Board of Education Meeting at the Long County Board of Education Building at 468 S. McDonald Street in Ludowici. Monday night, the board approved the workshop meeting dates and advertisement of the meetings on the Long County School System (LCSS) website.
Reopening Long County’s four schools took the majority of the board’s time during the meeting with Superintendent David Edwards running through a yellow-labeled reopening plan based on the guidelines set by the State of Georgia. This yellow label signifies that the plan takes a more restrictive approach to reopening McClelland and Smiley Elementary schools, Long County Middle School, and Long County High School.
According to Edwards the LCSS has offered parents and guardians the option to enroll students in a completely virtual or traditional school setting. Virtual students will use a school-provided software for online learning from home with check-in from Long County teachers. Still, Edwards said, the process will be mostly self-driven, and for younger students, that means a more hands-on approach for parents and guardians working with students at home. Edwards said parents have until July 21 to enroll students in the virtual learning option.
Though the reopening plan will be available on LCSS Facebook page later this week, according to Edwards, he presented the board with an overview of what he called a “living document” subject to change as deemed necessary for student and staff health and well-being.
Some of the changes outlined in the plan include:
Encouraging parent/family transportation to and from school;
Extended pick-up and drop-off periods before and after classes each day;
Mandatory assigned seating on buses and in classrooms to include where students stand in line when transitioning between classes, the cafeteria, or the playground to monitor who students and staff contact;
Eliminating field trips and limiting competitive field trips;
Encouraging but not mandating the wearing of masks by students and teachers;
Eliminating visitors beyond the school’s front office;
Daily temperature checks for students and teachers before beginning instruction for the day;
Serving free breakfast in the classroom and requiring students to return to their classrooms to eat lunch;
Creating classroom cohorts to limit student-student exposure;
Additional cleaning, hand-sanitizing stations, and disinfecting;
Requiring students or staff who test positive for COVID-19 to follow Department of Health guidelines before returning to school;
Virtual teaching professional development for teachers and weekly use of digital platform in classrooms to familiarize students in the event of another closure; and
Eliminating large group events in favor of outdoor or virtual events.
Earlier in the week the LCSS had issued a statement saying they were going to delay opening their schools by one week. Their plans calls for returning students to onsite classrooms on Aug. 10.
The School Board made the decision after reviewing the survey results turned in by stakeholders in the community.
The FY 2021 proposed budget includes the hiring of an additional nurse dedicated to McClelland Elementary, which would give the school system one nurse for each school, according to Edwards. It also includes the purchase of two more buses and no increase in ad valorem taxes.
LCSS is scheduled to hold 2020 graduation on July 25 at 9 a.m. at Veteran’s Stadium with limited tickets available based on the number of students participating in order to comply with Governor Mike Kemp’s social distancing guidelines. Edwards said some graduates have declined to come and others have not given a response about attendance.
For more information, call (912) 545-2367.