Summer break is coming to an end for Polk School District students, and there has been plenty to keep district administrators, faculty and staff busy as they look to make sure things return to as close to normal as possible this school year.

After dealing with restrictions and health precautions last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the district looks to continue to take measures to keep students safe while also returning to all face-to-face instruction when classes begin Tuesday, Aug. 3.

Superintendent Dr. Katie Thomas published an open letter to parents and stakeholders last week that detailed many of the things the district is doing to help students “transition back to normal.”

“Our team has been busy preparing to provide a sense of normalcy in the midst of unprecedented times for schools and families,” Thomas said.

“This past year was challenging, and we cannot say thank you enough for the continued support of our students, staff, parents, and community. Working together, we were able to keep our doors open to in-person instruction all year and that will continue to be our goal. Similarly, this year’s plan will be flexible, responsible, adaptable, and most importantly, safety-focused.”

Two of the most notable parts of this school year is the continuation of four-day weeks for instruction and the end of Polk School District-based distance learning.

Mondays will be used as teacher workdays with plans in place to allow for student remediation for those who need it on those days. Regular classes will be in session Tuesday through Friday.

While Polk County Schools offered distance learning for students whose parents were not comfortable with sending them to class, that will not be an option this year. A very small percentage of PSD students took advantage of the option last year, according to the district.

Face masks will not be required, but school officials are strongly encouraging students to wear masks while moving outside of the classroom in hallways. Classrooms will have cleaning products available and face masks will be made available for all students and staff who would like one.

To foster the sense of returning to normal, all Polk County schools will host an open house on Friday to allow students and their parents to talk to teachers and administrators.

All elementary schools, including Pre-K, will have open house from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., while both middle schools will have open house from 4-7 p.m., and both high schools’ open house will run from 5-8 p.m.

A special time for Cedartown Middle School sixth graders will be from 2-3 p.m. on Friday, while high school seniors will have their own set time from 3-4 p.m. at their respective school.

Students will be allowed to travel to the cafeteria for lunch this school year, at least during the first month of classes. Breakfast will continue to be grab-and-go in common areas of each school.

Polk School District will participate in the Seamless Summer Option for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs for the 2022 school year through a USDA waiver. This means that the district will offer meals at no charge to students and households are not required to complete a meal application to qualify for the meals at no cost.

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