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Gordon County Schools will be switching to a hybrid model of instruction for both of its high schools beginning Monday and continuing through the end of November after a number of students have tested positive for COVID-19.

The plan was outlined in the district’s Back to School guidance released in August. The plan calls for the schools to be closed Friday and for all students at both schools to attend online only through Schoology on Monday, Oct. 19, through Friday, Oct. 23. The week of Oct. 26-30, students with last names beginning with A-K will attend school in person, while students with last names beginning L-Z will attend online. The following week, Nov. 2-6, those roles will be reversed, with students whose last names start with L-Z attending in person and those whose last names start with A-K attending through Schoology.

Students will alternate in this fashion for the weeks of Nov. 9-13 (A-K in person, L-Z online) and Nov. 16-20 (L-Z in person, A-K online) until the Thanksgiving break, Nov. 23-27.

The tentative return date to full-time, in-person instruction will be Monday, Nov. 30.

“The decision to temporarily move to a hybrid schedule for both Gordon County high schools is a precautionary measure and comes following an increase in active COVID cases, resulting in a higher number of precautionary quarantines,” said Amy Parker, director of communications and community engagement for Gordon County Schools, in an email release. “Currently, there are seven positive student cases at Gordon Central and 11 students who are under quarantine from Sonoraville High School because they have tested positive for COVID-19.”

Parker said the school system continues to carefully monitor the active cases that impact schools.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the seven-day average of new cases reported increased 4.3% statewide; however, the seven-day average is down 66% state-wide from the peak on July 24. Gordon County is not labeled by the DPH as having high-transmission indicators at this time.

During this change in the instructional delivery model, all high school students will continue to receive instruction from their assigned classroom teachers utilizing Schoology but will only attend school in-person every other week, based upon the student’s last name.

“Having only half of the students in class at one time will allow for additional distancing among students within the classroom. Faculty and staff will work to prepare for this transition on Friday, Oct. 16, and school will be closed to students,” said Parker, who added that online-only learning next week will allow adequate time for facilities to receive extra disinfecting and sanitation and for teachers to plan for hybrid instruction.

Extracurricular activities will continue, unless otherwise notified by the school. This closure does not impact any other Gordon County school, and all elementary and middle schools will operate as normal. Parker noted that any families with students in the same household who would be attending on alternating schedules should contact the school to arrange for any necessary accommodations.

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