GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Gwinnett County Public Schools has switched gears, announcing Monday that classes are moving to 100% digital instruction at the start of the new school year.
Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks announced that starting on Aug. 12, all students will learn online instead of in-person. The district originally planned to have both in-person and digital instruction, but school officials says the recent rise in COVID-19 cases "required a change in those plans."
“There is no replacement for face-to-face instruction, and that was our preferred model for starting the school year,” Wilbanks said. “With that in mind, we offered parents an option between in-person and digital instruction in order to be responsive to their wishes for their children. However, out of an abundance of concern for our students, families, and employees, we made a very difficult decision based on the increasing number of COVID-19 cases we are seeing in our county, as well as the concerns that have been expressed by our teachers, parents, and others in the community.”
Officials say that the school system is working with health officials to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 and determine when it can open for in-person learning in the future.
As of Sunday, the Georgia Department of Public Health reports that there have been 143,123 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state and 3,173 deaths since the outbreak began. Gwinnett County has reported the highest number of cases confirmed since the start of the outbreak, with over 13,400.
According to a press release from the Gwinnett County School System, the fall's digital instruction will "look very different than what it did in the spring," with attendance documented and multiple assessments to measure learning.
Teachers will be required to report to school to deliver their lessons, while staff members with individual concerns will be able to work with principals to allow for certain accommodations.
“This is not the beginning of the school year we had hoped for; however, it was a possibility we planned for, knowing that keeping students and staff safe had to be a priority,” Wilbanks said. “We are confident we can do digital learning well, thanks to the quality teachers and leaders we have in this district, the comprehensive preparation over the last four months, and our steadfast commitment to do what’s best for Gwinnett students.”
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