Governor Brian Kemp made the decision in recent days to keep schools closed across the state through the end of the academic calendar year, which means that students will be learning from home through the end of May.
The recent also means that seniors who are ready to finish out their year with the various events will have to wait for some experiences in the months to come.
However, students and teachers will still get a break at home during Spring Break.
Many of the questions raised over the decision to keep campuses closed statewide through the end of May now have answers after school officials worked diligently to figure out a quick plan of how to move forward without being able to teach students in the traditional classroom setting.
Superintendent Laurie Atkins offered her appreciation for how well the faculty, staff, students and parents have continued to adjust to a changing situation.
“I am extremely proud of our PSD family,” Atkins said. “They have been doing what they do best — keeping our students and colleagues nurtured, positive and motivated. Just because our doors are not open, we will continue to support and care for our children and work family.”
That starts with a week off for everyone during Spring Break this week. The district will continue on with their schedule for the April 6 through April 10 break, as well as plans to suspend the Grab and Go Breakfast and Lunch distribution program for just this week.
It will return on April 13 at the previously assigned locations around town. Those can be found on the Polk School District website, or in previous editions of the Standard Journal.
As far as assigned work goes, the plan is as follows: students will finish their distance learning packets through April 17, and then no additional packets are being distributed. After that, resources online for continued learning will be provided for students across the district that will be optional and not required by the district.
For students who still owed work in for the third nine week period before March 13, that still needs to be completed and must be turned into educators by Friday, May 22. Students who are also credit deficient must finish their Odysseyware courses by Friday, May 22 as well.
How students will be graded is also being considered during this crisis situation as well. The district stated that they plan to count everything through most of the school year — from last August to March 13 — as three nine week periods of grading.
“After this date, grades for anything assigned will not negatively impact students, rather they will benefit students,” the district stated.
So for each learning packet already sent home, it’ll account for four daily assignments and one assessment grade per academic course. This particular plan does not apply to advanced placement or dual enrollment students.
The district also provided the full outlay of how grading will be completed in their COVID-19 update available at www.polk.k12.ga.us. Those evaluations differ based on grade levels, elective classes at the high school level, and for those in College and Career Academy programs. Promotion and retention is being based on the majority of the performance of students though the three completed nine week periods in classrooms, and no grades will negatively impact students for the fourth nine weeks.
Students who need additional academic help will have time before the May 22 deadline to complete studies and catch back up, since there won’t be summer school, and need to immediately contact teachers to provide for assistance at this time.
Both high schools will still have a May 22 cutoff date to select a valedictorian and salutatorian.
Most important for high school seniors are when their activities such as prom, senior honors programs and graduation will occur. With social distancing guidelines and the shelter in place order enacted, both prom and graduation are currently on hold.
Proms are expected to happen once the conditions have changed and social distancing guidelines have been lifted. Graduation will also occur, with arrangements to be announced for both activities to be announced as soon as plans are made.
Senior Honors Nights at both schools are also being worked out, and will be completed in a digital format for 2020. However, the other schools and grade levels will not get to have awards programs this year.
Additionally, all field trips have been called off, the GHSA shut down sports for the spring, and Camp WinShape has been called off.
Pre-K and Kindergarten registration will begin digitally on May 4, and an in-person registration for those without access online will occur later this summer with a schedule to be announced.
Anyone who left items behind — educators and students alike — will have a chance to pick up their belongings once the shelter-in-place order is lifted. Educators will be able to come get their things from their office or classroom by appointment once the shelter-in-place order is lifted. Administrators will work with parents to collect their children’s belongings as well.
Library books will be due back from youth when they turn in distance learning packets in the coming days. Yearbook distribution is going to be provided when packets are returned as well.
Check back for additional details about the school closure and make-up programs as they become available.