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A Letter from Superintendent Dr. Chris Houston on Greene County's return to school in Fall 2020

Dear Greene County Families,

With the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year, planning for 2020-2021 is already underway. August will be here before we know it, and our top priority as we prepare for Greene County’s return to school is the health and safety of our students and staff.

As we make decisions regarding the new school year, I am in regular contact with the Greene County Health Department, Georgia Department of Public Health, the Georgia Department of Education, and my fellow superintendents in surrounding school districts to ensure that my decisions are aligned with best practice. We have also brought the best minds in the district together in our Return to School Task Force. This group of district and school leaders’ mission is to discover and plan for the safest way to begin the 2020-21 school year.

If possible, we hope for a traditional start to the new year where we welcome our students back to our school buildings for in-person classes. If we cannot safely hold traditional school due to the spread of COVID-19 in Greene County at that time, it may be necessary to employ distance learning once again. Our task force is developing multiple plans of action to ensure we are prepared either way. We miss our students and want to teach them face-to-face, but we will not compromise their health and safety to do so.

This morning, the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Department of Public Health released a document entitled Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools. This plan provides guidance regarding reopening school this fall. If you wish to view the document in its entirety, please click on the following link: www.georgiainsights.com/recovery.

The guidance is based upon the following community-specific levels of COVID-19: substantial spread, minimal/moderate spread, and low/no spread. The level at which Greene County would be placed is determined by state and local health officials. Within each level of community spread, this plan makes recommendations regarding the following:
• Preventing infection
• Transporting students
• Entering school buildings
• Serving meals
• Transitioning between classes
• Conducting large group gatherings
• Supporting teaching and learning
• Protecting vulnerable populations

The state and local health departments have not yet notified us what category Greene County will fall within, but based on our district’s individual needs, school will begin this fall with either in-person classes, distance learning, or a hybrid model. We will maintain close communication with local and state health agencies in making decisions regarding reopening school, and our final Return to School Plan will be in accordance with Georgia’s Path to Recovery and any further guidance we receive from the Centers of Disease Control, Greene County Health Department, Georgia Department of Public Health, the Georgia Department of Education, and the governor’s office. Please look for a survey coming soon from our Curriculum & Instruction Department that will ask for your input on our Return to School Plan.

Our goal is still to provide exceptional teaching and learning for all our students, whatever form that may take next school year. Thank you for your support as we continue making preparations for this fall. We look forward to welcoming our students back as soon as we are able.

Sincerely,
Dr. Chris Houston, Superintendent