GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Gwinnett County Public Schools has released their plan to transition to the option of in-person learning for the new 2020-21 school year.
Tuesday, the Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent and CEO J. Alvin Wilbanks shared a plan that would have some of the county's students able to come into classrooms starting on Aug. 26.
The school year wills begin on Aug. 12 with completely virtual learning, then Wilbanks said the school system "will begin to implement in-person instruction for students whose parents desire it, and do so as soon and as safely as possible."
In his letter to Gwinnett County parents, Wilbanks pointed out that they are dealing with uncertainty about the virus and " conflicting information about COVID-19"
"We must balance that information against the concerns of parents who fear for their children’s educational progress, as well as their own employment, and need for us to bring their children back to school," he said. "At the same time, we must care for our people, many of whom have understandable concerns about returning to work when they feel the virus risk remains high for them and their families."
Under the plan, described as a best-case scenario, the Gwinnett County school system will begin by allowing parents to choose between in-person and virtual learning in a "staggard basis." On Aug. 26, kindergarteners, 1st graders, 6th graders, and 9th graders will be given the option to return to classrooms. The number of students allowed to be in classes will slowly increase until Sept. 9, when all grades will be given the option.
Officials say these dates are subject to change depending on COVID-19 numbers in Gwinnett County. As of Monday afternoon, the Georgia Department of Public Health has confirmed a total of 17,927 cases from the outbreak's start with 1,996 total hospitalizations and 240 total deaths from the virus.
"We understand that no plan will be universally popular with all stakeholders. But we are committed to doing what we believe is best for students in terms of their health, safety, and education," Wilbanks said.
The announcement comes a day after Gwinnett County school officials confirmed that as of Thursday, July 30 about 260 employees had called in to report a positive COVID-19 test or possible exposure to a case and were excluded from work. The first day that teachers began in-person planning Wednesday at county facilities was Wednesday, July 29.