As Rome students come off fall break and Floyd County heads into a week off, superintendents for both systems are looking forward to what may amount to a quarantine reset.
“As far as our current status we have 222 students in quarantine and all but two of those are due to come back on Tuesday,” Rome City Schools Superintendent Lou Byars said.
The school system returns to classes Tuesday after a virtual learning day on Monday.
However, over break a few students have tested positive for COVID-19 from Anna K. Davie Elementary so there will be at least one classroom starting back on quarantine.
But overall Byars said he’s satisfied with the way the school year has gone and the safety procedures in place.
“Our teachers have become more creative about how to distance and spread out classes,” Byars said.
Floyd County Schools Superintendent Glenn White is optimistic that with the fall break alongside two planning days the system will get that needed reset.
“The goal is to keep (COVID-19) cleared out until Thanksgiving break,” White said. Ditto for the two weeks of Christmas break.
As they go into fall break the county school system has around 350 students and staff quarantining after a potential COVID-19 exposure. Once on break, school staff will disinfect the schools, he said.
Talk of a COVID-19 vaccine is heartening, but even if a vaccine is approved and widespread distribution begins, it may be a while before it trickles down into school systems.
“It think this is something we’re going to be dealing with for the rest of the school year,” Byars said.
On top of what seem now to be the regular disruptions to the school year, we’re headed into cold and flu season. That’s going to complicate determining whether or not student, or parent, has been exposed to COVID-19 because of the symptom similarities.
Both superintendents said they’ve been in regular communication with the health officials who have encouraged people to get a flu shot this year.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Byars said. “Hopefully we’ll have limited disruptions but it will be a challenge.”
Systems add virtual tutoring programs
At this point both school systems are working on improving existing virtual learning programs with additional tutoring programs.
“We’ll be starting a homework hotline on Oct. 21 for parents and students who need help with math or English language arts,” White said.
In the virtual learning programs, they’ve found that students, and parents, need additional help. Parents are coming home from work and don’t often remember lessons taken years ago, White said. It’s presented a problem.
“We’ve got to help them out,” White said.
After fall break a number of students in the county system will be returning to in-person learning, he said.
Going into break there are approximately 1,850 students doing virtual classes exclusively, and at the end of fall break only around 1,000 students will continue virtual learning programs.
“I want them all to come back if it’s safe,” White said.
Students in Rome’s virtual academy opted to stay in virtual learning for the entire semester, which ends in December. However, Rome is also adding online tutoring programs to its virtual learning program.
“As we come across these needs we need to address the problem,” Byars said. They’ve also purchased more Chromebooks and additional internet connectivity hotspots as the need has arisen.
But he’s optimistic they’re prepared.
“We’ve got to make sure we keep students, staff and teachers upbeat,” he said.