Gwinnett County Catholic School open now with in-person teaching

As school districts across the country work to determine how to reopen schools in the fall, St. John Neumann Regional Catholic School in Gwinnett County is already open and teaching students in person.

The school is halfway through its second week of summer classes.

School leaders say their summer school plan is working and they intend on implementing the same coronavirus safety measures, including intensified cleaning, Plexiglas protection, and an air filter, when hundreds of students return in the fall.

"I think [the air filter] is 99.4 percent of germs are killed within 30 minutes," principal Julie Broom told FOX 5's Alex Whittler. "We’ve divided our drop-offs into three drop-offs, so students aren’t crossing paths during the day."

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Broom uses a contact-free thermometer to provide student screenings from their cars herself.

Students are then ushered into small classrooms, or cohorts, where they are taught in small groups that don’t interact with other classrooms.

“We have kept our cohorts small so students can distance in the classroom and that they’re only being exposed to a smaller group of children," Broom said.

Every subject such as math, reading, science, and recess is experienced from a social distance.

Summer classes at the school are typically held in June, but the coronavirus postponed them.

Now more than halfway complete, parents say summer courses were a comforting trial run for the 2020-2021 academic year.

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"I feel very comfortable. I feel more safe here than in my own house," Melissa Ann Wingate said. 

Other parents told Whittler their students have no complaints about wearing face masks.

With 292 of an expected 310 students already enrolled for the fall, Broom says the school is ready to adjust.

"We would put one group in the music room, which is a double classroom and spread desks, and one up in the media center," she said.

The school says it is an option for any parents considering in-person classes who are concerned about the number of children permitted in a classroom.

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