Much like the varied responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rome City and Floyd County schools’ approach to the start-up of classes in August will be based on safety and flexibility.
The exact scenario students will find themselves in on the first day of school has yet to be determined. But local school districts are creating specific plans of action based off the guidelines published this week by the Georgia Department of Education and Georgia Department of Public Health.
Floyd County Schools released a color-coded guide Thursday roughly defining the different ways the system could respond to levels of COVID-19 infection in the community. It goes from low/no spread (green) to minimal/moderate spread (yellow) to substantial spread (red).
The spectrum of how those levels affect instruction goes from having a regular schedule with social distancing enforced, to a mix of in-person and distance learning, to entirely distance learning — much like how the final two months of this past school year played out.
Rome City Schools Superintendent Lou Byars said Thursday they are still finalizing some aspects of their plans and the suggested categories from the state are very helpful. He expects to present the plans to the school board at its regular meeting Tuesday.
“I think this is going to be fluid,” Floyd Superintendent Jeff Wilson said. “Nothing is set in stone.”
Wilson said it all depends on the rate of infection in a certain area and the recommendations from the DPH. While a check about two weeks before classes start would tell how they could begin the school year, that could change.
“It will be based on how well folks do with social distancing and keeping crowds down. But there could certainly be a situation where we move from one to another. As a matter of fact, I think there will be a situation where that will happen,” Wilson said, adding that they will develop a standard way to communicate any changes to parents.
He said he and his staff will be working on clear definitions of when to move from one scenario to another prior to the beginning of school.
Much like Floyd County Schools, Byars said the staff at Rome City Schools has been looking at ways to start back to class over the last two months. They have had committees look at different areas, including maintenance and operations, transportation and curriculum.
“We’re trying to develop a plan that can be flexible, so if the spread of the virus increases we have an idea of what we can do to react quickly to protect the health and safety of students, staff, and faculty, as well as provide a quality education for our students,” Byars said.