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Updated: 7/6

How were these plans developed?
On March 14, Governor Kemp issued Executive Order No declaring a Public Health State of Emergency due to the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. For the safety and protection of children and their families across the state, Governor Kemp, in collaboration with the GA Department of Public Health and GA Department of Education, closed public school buildings for in-person instruction through the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. Since then, Governor Kemp has implemented a phased approach to slowly lift restrictions in Georgia while combating COVID-19, protecting Georgians and working together to recover the economy.

On June 1, the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Department of Public Health released Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools. This plan provided guidance for reopening school this fall. It was then modified and re-released on July 13th. You can access the plan here.

Governor Kemp and Georgia Superintendent Richard Woods also established K-12 Restart Working Groups designed to assist in planning for next steps and providing guidelines on six key topics for reopening schools. 

Guidance from all of the above groups has been taken into consideration for developing a custom action plan for Barrow County School System that is grounded in our mission and strategic goals. We’ve collaborated with regional school systems and received input from our School Governance Teams. BCSS task forces were also established to tackle the numerous logistical details and considerations to reopen school safely for our students and staff. A district survey was conducted the last two weeks of school to get input from parents, students and staff and those responses have influenced our planning and approach as well.

The COVID-19 virus is mostly spread by respiratory droplets released when people talk, cough, or sneeze. The virus may spread to hands from a contaminated surface and then to the nose or mouth, causing infection. That’s why personal prevention practices (such as handwashing and staying home when sick) and environmental cleaning and disinfecting are important practices. They are covered in more detail in the Section 1 above.

Any scenario in which many people gather together poses a risk for COVID-19 transmission. While children generally experience mild symptoms with COVID-19 and, to date, have not been found to contribute substantially to the spread of the virus, transmission from even those with mild or no apparent symptoms remains a risk.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever (100.4 or higher) or chills
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Headache

This list is not all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported including nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. While symptoms in children are similar to adults, children may have milder symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Children with COVID-19 may not initially present with fever and cough as often as adult patients.

BCSS has adopted the CDC Foundations “Framework for Adapting Guidelines for Unique Settings” in which to evaluate each situation with groups of people. The framework takes 7 characteristics and breaks it down to determine risk level and how to modify circumstances to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

  • Movement
  • Duration
  • Proximity
  • Group Size
  • Respiratory Output
  • Touch
  • Congestion
7 Characteristics of a Sitation

Barrow County School System will operate under the spread level framework provided by the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Department of Public Health. The framework has three levels, tied to the degree of Covid-19 spread in the community: low, moderate or substantial.

Level 1
Low to No Community Spread

Level 2
Minimal to Moderate Community Spread

Level 3
Substantial Community Spread

At any given point, Barrow County as a whole will be at one of the three levels and will move up or down as directed by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) as the spread of the virus changes.

However, this plan was modified with the release on July 13 from the Georgia Department of Education and Public Health. Now, school systems must determine which category they fall into for viral spread and take the corresponding steps and actions. The three categories are as follows:
•    Green: preventative practices
•    Yellow: enhanced mitigation measures
•    Red: temporary closure(s)

Based on "Georgia's Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools," the Barrow County School System has developed conditional options for returning to school for 2020-21 and for remaining open throughout the year. 

All parents, stakeholders, and staff should assume Barrow County is currently on Spread Level 2/moderate community spread and that we will hold school in-person on August 4 as originally planned.

The level of spread in the community will determine what in-person school looks like for students and staff. 

  • At the lowest level of Status Green Preventive Measures, which means no to low spread of COVID-19, school will look closer to traditional school with some degree of physical distancing and virus mitigation strategies present. 
  • At Status Yellow Enhanced Mitigation Measures with minimal to moderate spread of COVID-19, the system will engage more stringent viral mitigation and physical distancing practices, but otherwise continue in-person learning. 
  • On Status Red Targeted Closure(s), Barrow County Schools will work with Public Health Officials to determine which classrooms, bus routes, hallways or schools/facilities will need to be closed. Any closure will last at least 14 days and school officials will work with public health to determine an appropriate time to re-open. 
Returning to School options

Barrow County Virus Spread Level Determination

BCSS monitors data on a daily basis to determine the virus spread level specifically for Barrow County. Below, you can see where this information comes from and the key indicators. Please note that while spread level is an important factor in the decision to resume in-person learning, it is not the only factor. 


Each day about 3pm, we visit the Georgia Department of Health website, scroll down to the map titled “COVID-19 by County,” and click on Barrow County to see the rollover box with the most current information for that day. 

We then record the data in our spreadsheet.*

Next, this information is compared to the previous day’s data to determine the number of new cases for that day. The following is calculated with the new data: 
•    number of new cases per 100K 
•    7-day average of new cases per 100K 
•    14-day average new cases per 100K

Here is an example from our spreadsheet. 

COVID-19 Status Tracking spreadsheet

As of August 14, 2020, Barrow County is in the RED virus spread level.

You will notice that from day-to-day, the number of new cases can vary significantly. For instance on Monday, August 10th, there were only 7 new cases. The next day on Tuesday, August 11th, there were 27 new cases. This is the reason we look at both the 7-day and 14-day averages. This is also the reason the Georgia Department of Public Health started reporting new cases from the past 2 weeks and new cases per 100K population over the last two weeks. By using the average, we get a much better picture of trend.  

In the Status column in our spreadsheet above, you can see the color indicator of red, yellow, and green (not shown currently). This is the current spread level in Barrow County. Spread levels are based on the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 citizens. The three-tiered model sets the following color categories:

  • Green (low spread): Less than 10 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 citizens (14-day average)
  • Yellow (moderate spread): Between 10 and 24.9 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 citizens (14-day average)
  • Red (significant spread): Greater than or equal to 25 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 citizens (14-day average)

The below graphic explains how BCSS will operate based on spread level. This chart was first published on June 16, 2020, and this is the plan we are continuing to follow. Barrow County would need to be in yellow/moderate spread for a sustained period of time before resuming in person learning. Please note that spread level is one factor as decisions are made when to resume school in-person. 

Other things we monitor daily:

  • The United States is currently the leading country in the world according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine data.  Source
  • The state of Georgia is currently the fourth state in the nation in numbers of total cases according to CDC data. Source
  • As of 8/11/2020, the daily average of new COVID-19 cases in Barrow County numbered 30 case(s) per 100,000 residents. In comparison, the daily average in Georgia was 32 case(s) per 100,000 and in the United States was 16 case(s) per 100,000. Source: Emory University Covid-19 Health Equity Report for Barrow County

*The DPH frequently adjusts the case data after initially reporting it. We utilize the data posted daily for consistency. 

BCSS policies and procedures are intended to mitigate not eliminate risk. No single action or set of actions will completely eliminate risk of COVID-19 transmission, but implementation of several coordinated interventions can greatly reduce that risk.

Back-to-School Questions?

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CDC resources

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention