As we did last year, BCSS leadership monitors the state and local Covid-19 data and numbers and the data from each of our schools closely on a daily basis. We are also in ongoing contact with staff at the GA Department of Public Health. Unfortunately, the overall community spread level in the Barrow County community, as a whole, is higher than this time last year.
As we learned last year, the best data and insight we have available with which to make decisions centers on what is going on inside our schools. Thankfully, the current numbers of student and staff positive cases remain relatively low across the system at a current number of 0.65%. Each school is different, of course, with some reporting higher numbers and percentages and others lower. The weekly numbers can be accessed on our website here.
In keeping with this, and due to the increase we are seeing in student and staff close contact quarantines in several schools, we are moving forward with a few essential changes beginning Thursday, August 19, 2021. We are taking these steps to best support our commitment to safeguarding the health and safety of our students and staff and the crucial aspect of maintaining in-person learning as we work to provide the best possible educational setting for our students.
As a new protocol, if a school reaches a threshold of over 1% of its population with positive COVID-19 cases, all staff and students will be required to temporarily wear masks indoors at school and on the school bus. Please note this will not be a long-term requirement. It will be rescinded as soon as the school falls below the 1% threshold over a period of 5 school days.
BCSS will also return to the consistent system-wide implementation of our COVID-19 Health Precautions in all schools and facilities, especially in the area of Physical Distancing and Minimizing Exposure. These precautions specifically include:
- Hallways will use structured and one-way crowd flow.
- Desks and seating areas will be arranged to maximize space between students.
- Students will remain in smaller cohorts to limit mixing.
- Masks are required in our school clinics.
- Seating charts will be used in all classrooms, cafeterias, and on buses.
- There will be no large indoor gatherings that bring together students and staff not normally in contact with one another.
- Virtual events, rather than face-to-face, will be used as much as possible.
- Only essential visitors are allowed in the building, including parents (those who can’t meet virtually), staff, contracted workers providing services to students, and mentors with parent permission. These visitors will be expected to wear a mask while in the buildings.
- Staff who are vaccinated but identified as a close contact should wear a mask for ten (10) days.
- Students will eat all meals in classrooms, or classes will rotate through cafeterias in smaller groups.
- There will be no restrictions on any outdoor events that have voluntary attendance.
Please review all other measures listed on our website at COVID-19 Health Precautions.
COVID-19 spread models have indicated that we may see the peak of this recent upswing sometime in mid-September. Assuming those models are accurate, we encourage schools to delay and/or schedule indoor gatherings in October to have the safest event possible.
While no single intervention is perfect at preventing the spread of COVID-19, there are personal actions that each of us can take. Wearing a mask, hand hygiene, getting vaccinated, and staying home when sick, support the overall shared responsibilities we all share that are necessary to benefit our community and schools as a whole. Collectively, these mitigation efforts make a difference towards ending this pandemic. And that’s what we all want, to return to our normal lives without restriction or fear of illness.
With the increasing COVID-19 spread in our community, we strongly encourage all students and staff to take active precautions to protect themselves and others against COVID-19.
- Due to the circulating and highly contagious Delta variant, CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students, staff, and teachers in K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. While BCSS is not mandating masks at this time, we strongly encourage that everyone follows these guidelines daily.
- Vaccination is the leading prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. To avoid having to quarantine, all eligible students and staff are encouraged to get vaccinated. Learn more about student vaccinations.
- Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have any sign of illness. Symptoms may include a runny nose, cough, fever (100.4 or higher), fatigue, or sore throat.
We cannot stress enough how important it is that parents and guardians do not send students to school if there is even a hint of illness. Your actions may very well be the deciding factor regarding whether we avoid a system-wide masking mandate and/or have to shut a school or schools down for a period of time.
As a reminder, guardians who prefer their student attends school in an online learning model can find that information here. (There are options for K-12 listed that are at no cost to families).
Thank you all for your support and patience as we continue to adapt to the curves that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to throw at us.