ELLIJAY, Ga. – Though no exact details are available yet, the Gilmer Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs is meeting with the board, with faculty administrators, and with citizens and parents about details and options of the school to return along with its calendar schedule at the end of July.
Dr. Downs said, “Our district, along with the world, is grappling with an issue of enormous scale and human impact, and our hearts go out to all of those that have been affected by the outbreak of COVID-19. We believe it is our role and responsibility during this time to prioritize two things: the health and well-being of our students and staff while continuing to provide a quality education for our students.”
Downs added that the school is continuing to make its plans according to these priorities and according to the information given by both the state and our local community. The board is looking at survey results from questions about the school’s return sent only to parents of students along with meetings with security, Health Professionals, and others as they consider the details on the possible return. However, Dr. Downs said that the information coming in for them is still changing almost daily.
The process will continue, however, and plans are expected to reach a final decision by July’s meeting of the BOE in preparation of the calendar’s start date. If the calendar is followed, teachers will return for pre-planning and professional learning the last week of July, July 27 – July 31, and students will see their first day of school on August 3.
During this month, Downs said they will be reviewing all of their options and guidance from authorities like the Department of Public Health and state officials. She said they will make the decision “that makes the most sense for the students and families of Gilmer County. What works in California or what works in Fulton County doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of Gilmer County Students, so we will be looking at that through that lens.”
Downs did say they have a foundation of plans in place to keep both the children and staff safe when they return. She also noted plans in progress to expand digital learning through virtual school with the curriculum team. A relatively new program only rolled out in January, this could be expanded to a full K-12 program as an option for families in any grade that may not be comfortable to returning to face-to-face instruction in the near future.
With options available and plans set to explore several paths, Downs said exact details will be made available later so that nothing is said that might be different or changed soon.