More restrictive guidelines from the Department of Public Health regarding mandatory quarantines for teachers and students who test positive for COVID-19 are forcing Polk County Schools to make a change in their plans for in-class instruction less than two weeks into the new school year.
Polk School District Superintendent Laurie Atkins sent a letter home to parents Wednesday announcing that students would be out of school next week, Aug. 17-21, to allow teachers to work on their online lesson plans to better serve students in the classroom as well as those who may have to miss class due to a mandatory quarantine period.
In addition to that, beginning the week of Aug. 24, Polk School District will begin four-day weeks for students where they only attend classes Tuesday through Friday. This will continue through the first semester.
Teachers will use Monday’s to create digital lessons and videos for the week while also allowing an additional day for the district to perform deep cleanings of their buildings and facilities.
“While we understand an adjustment to our normal schedule at this time may be an inconvenience to our families, we appreciate your patience and understanding of our attempt to keep our students in school despite the many agency mandates/factors outside of our control that are influencing our day-to-day operations,” Atkins states in the letter.
“We appreciate your partnership as we continue to navigate uncharted territory. Your student's education, health and well-being is our number one priority.”
Per recommendations by public health officials and the Georgia Department of Education, students and teachers who show symptoms of COVID-19 and test positive for the new coronavirus must stay at home from 10-14 days depending on the severity of their symptoms.
Polk County schools have had reported cases of both students and teachers testing positive for COVID-19 in the days since classes started back on Aug. 3 with the biggest impact being at Cedartown High School where the confirmed cases in three football players have led to the team temporarily halting practice and canceling it season opening game on Sept. 4 at Carrollton.
According to district officials, students in some Polk School District elementary school classrooms in which a student tested positive for COVID-19 are now at home in quarantine, as are two Rockmart High School teachers who also tested positive.
Polk School District adopted a back-to-school plan in July that instituted several procedures to try and curb the spread of COVID-19, including encouraging students to wear masks, putting new policy in place to avoid large gatherings of students and emphasizing physical distancing and increased sanitization.