Catoosa County School Superintendent Denia Reese said Tuesday, April 7, that high school principals and seniors will be working on ways to hold graduation ceremonies — if not traditionally, perhaps in another way — amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“Each high school principal will be meeting (virtually) with senior sponsors and officers to discuss ideas,” Reese said. “They will develop a survey so we can listen to the students’ ideas and receive input. I know this is devastating and it absolutely breaks my heart that preventing ‘community spread’ of COVID-19 means that we can’t assemble for our traditional graduation ceremonies. I have great confidence that our students and their principals will find a way to make this event memorable.”

In an April 7 letter to students and parents, Reese answered this question and others:

Dear Students and Parents

I know there are a lot of questions since Governor Kemp issued the Executive Order on April 1 for schools to remain closed through the end of the year. I appreciate the governor’s guidance and his work to minimize the impact of COVID-19 in Georgia. At the same time, I am devastated for our students and families across the nation who have been looking forward to senior activities and high school graduation for many years. I want you to be confident that our principals and I are working on alternative plans for our seniors. I appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we navigate the effects of this national pandemic.

We’ve prepared some answers to frequently asked questions. I know there may be other specific questions we didn’t address. Our school principals are checking email daily, so you may email your child’s school, or you may email me at questions@catoosa.k12.ga.us.

Sincerely, Superintendent Denia Reese

Will Digital Learning continue for the rest of the year?

YES! COVID-19 has interrupted our life this spring, but students must continue learning so they are prepared for their next grade in school in the fall. Students are earning “credit” for the work they are completing from home, and parents can be confident this work is preparing them for school next year.

Beginning April 6, Digital Learning is Monday through Thursday. Fridays are self-directed learning or family fun days.

As superintendent, I understand that Digital Learning Days may be challenging for parents. I want you to know WE ARE AVAILABLE TO HELP!

Assignment assistance: Teachers are working. For assistance with assignments visit the school website. Teachers’ email addresses are listed in the staff directory.

Technology support (phone hours): Monday through Thursday, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm:

♦ RHS, RMS, TCE, RPS, RES, and GES: Call 706-965-1020

♦ HHS, HMS, Boynton, BES, BPS, and Woodstation: Call 706-965-1021

♦ LFO, LMS, PLC, COA, WSE, and CSE: Call 706-965-1022

Device exchange and repair: Call one of the technology support lines for directions.

Chromebook and iPad care and instructions: www.catoosa.k12.ga.us, Parent Quick Links

Will students be promoted to the next grade or retained in their current grade in the fall?

Students must complete their digital learning assignments to demonstrate learning and preparation for promotion. Students who continue to participate in learning will be promoted to the next grade level in the fall; UNLESS the school previously contacted the parents about the possibility of retention. If students were not meeting grade-level expectations, parent/teacher meetings would have already occurred. If you have specific questions about your child, please contact the teacher or principal by email.

Are graduation ceremonies canceled?

Since school is canceled through the end of the year, I think we must discuss alternate plans for high school graduation. I met with the high school principals today, and it is VERY important to us to celebrate our seniors and recognize their accomplishments. Each high school principal will be meeting (virtually) with senior sponsors and officers to discuss ideas. They will develop a survey so we can listen to the students’ ideas and receive input. I know this is devastating and it absolutely breaks my heart that preventing “community spread” of COVID-19 means that we can’t assemble for our traditional graduation ceremonies. I have great confidence that our students and their principals will find a way to make this event memorable.

Will the school system continue to provide meals during the extended closure?

Yes. Each Monday from April 6 through May 18, meals for a week will be available at LFO High School from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. For families who do not have transportation to LFO High School, meal delivery will be provided. Email smason@catoosa.k12.ga.us or call 706-965-0266 and provide Name, Address, Phone Number, and the Number of Children needing meals.

Will parents/guardians receive a refund for canceled field trips?

Parents will be reimbursed fees paid for field trips. Each school has one bookkeeper who will have to enter every parents’ name and address to print checks for refunds. The process may take a little time, but should be completed by the end of May.

Will students be allowed to retrieve their personal items from school, and how will digital devices be returned?

The principals and I have been discussing students accessing their lockers. Please know I understand that students have things at school they would like to retrieve. Governor Kemp’s Executive Order to “Shelter in Place” ends April 13. We must wait until we receive further guidance from the state to plan for students to retrieve their personal belongings and to determine how the digital devices will be returned.

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