Catoosa County educators are considering allowing all students the option of a five-days-a-week in-person schedule.

When students returned on Aug. 24, only elementary students — kindergarten through fifth grade — were given the option of attending in person five days a week. They were also given the option of learning remotely five days a week; about a quarter of the school system’s 4,471 students in these grades are doing just that.

The rest — pre-kindergarten and grades 6-12, which total 6,156 students — were given the option of a hybrid schedule: either attending in person twice a week on Monday-Tuesday or Thursday-Friday, while remotely learning the remaining three days each week. They were also given the option of full digital (or remote) learning; about 18% of pre-kindergartners and about of a quarter of 6th-12th-graders are learning remotely.

Schools Superintendent Denia Reese, in a message posted Friday, Sept. 18, on the school system’s website (www.catoosa.k12.ga.us) is seeking parents’ — those with students in pre-K and grades 6-12— input on the new option.

These parents will receive an email with a link to a three-question survey, she said. They have until noon on Wednesday, Sept. 23, to respond.

In general the questions are:

♦ Is your child currently learning online or going to school on a hybrid schedule?

♦ If schools reopen five days a week, will you allow your child to go?

♦ What date do you think schools should reopen five days a week?

“Please keep in mind, on a full 5-day traditional schedule, we may not be able to social distance in classrooms,” Reese points out in her message. “We will still be required to follow the Department of Public Health guidelines for ‘close contacts’ and quarantines. Please be aware of the following: masks may be required in classrooms when social distancing isn’t possible or if the teacher has an underlying health condition; more students may have to quarantine because more ‘close contacts’ are possible; and, classrooms or schools may have to close or transition to a hybrid schedule for short periods of time if COVID spreads in the school.”

Schools reopened on Monday, Aug. 24. During the first two weeks after students returned to class (Aug. 24 through Sept. 4), 15 people — eight students and seven teachers — tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, 132 students and 56 teachers had to be sent home to quarantine for 14 days due to close contact with someone who was positive.

For the period of Sept. 11-18, the school system had 12 active cases — six students and six teachers; and, as of Friday, Sept. 18, 163 students and 207 teachers were at home quarantining for two weeks.

Here is the full text of Reese’s Sept. 18 message:

“Catoosa County Public Schools is seeking input from PREK and SECONDARY parents (6-12) about returning to a 5-day traditional school schedule. Parents of children in these grades will receive an email with a link to a survey. A text message will be sent alerting parents when the survey is available. Please check your email after you receive the text. If you do not receive an email, check your spam folder. If it isn’t in spam, we may need to update your information in Infinite Campus. Please provide your name, child’s name, and email address to questions@catoosa.k12.ga.us so we can send you the link. The email link allows one response.

“Please keep in mind, on a full 5-day traditional schedule, we may not be able to social distance in classrooms. We will still be required to follow the Department of Public Health guidelines for ‘close contacts’ and quarantines. Please be aware of the following: masks may be required in classrooms when social distancing isn’t possible or if the teacher has an underlying health condition; more students may have to quarantine because more ‘close contacts’ are possible; and, classrooms or schools may have to close or transition to a hybrid schedule for short periods of time if COVID spreads in the school.

“It is a very short three-question survey, so it will close on Wednesday (9/23) at 12:00 p.m. The Phase 2 plan will be posted on the system’s website with transition instructions for parents. A district-wide text will be sent so parents know the plan is available.

“NOTE: The survey only applies to PreK and secondary students.

“ELEMENTARY parents whose children are currently in digital learning may return to school at the end of the first nine weeks, per our original reopening plan. If you would like to make this transition, please contact your school by October 2nd to allow time to adjust schedules.”

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