We have one week of school left until the winter break. Barrow County School System wanted to check in with our families and provide an update about the current impact of COVID-19 on our schools.
While community spread rate is not the only cause of school closures, it is a driving consideration for school operations. Schools must also have sufficient bus drivers, cafeteria workers, teachers, and substitute teachers to continue in-person learning.
As of December 10, Barrow’s spread level was 42.0 (cases out of 100,000 over 14-day average). Below, you can see the spread level for each of our neighboring counties and the changes they have implemented.
- Jackson County (spread level 56.79) has moved to digital learning until the winter break.
- Clarke County (36.07) has moved to online learning the last week before winter break, will return in January virtually, and plans to return to in-person learning on Jan 19 after the MLK holiday weekend.
- Hall County (58.14) has moved four schools to blended learning.
- Walton (38.21), Oconee (27.07), and Gwinnett (37.21) have not posted any changes at this time.
If BCSS cannot safely and effectively deliver instruction, then we will use targeted school closures as needed in our district. At this time, we are not planning on a district-wide closure. We currently have sufficient staffing levels to continue in-person learning, but as we all know, that could change at any time. Please ensure your family has a plan if your child needs to move to distance learning.
In the past week (Dec 2-9), BCSS had 31 positive COVID-19 cases for students and 13 for staff. This equates to approximately 0.28% of the total number of students and staff in our schools. Due to those cases, 629 individuals were isolated or quarantined*. The data we gather through our extensive contact tracing consistently shows that the majority of cases being counted each week do not originate in our classrooms. The data indicates that students and staff are not getting the virus at school, and they are not passing it along to others at school. Instead, people are contracting the virus outside of school.
Another way of looking at spread level within a school is by tracking clusters. A cluster is defined as laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in two or more people (students, teachers, staff) with the earliest symptoms or test dates within 14 days of each other. To be part of a cluster, COVID-19 cases would have had contact with one another, would not share a household, and would not be identified as close contacts of each other in another setting outside of school or school-related activities.
Each week, our schools report case data to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Since we started reporting this in the early fall, BCSS has had 8 clusters in our schools. The last cluster we reported in BCSS was on November 13, before Thanksgiving break. Evidence continues to show that the mitigation efforts implemented in our schools are working. Thank you for your continued efforts to Save Our School year! #SOSBarrow
While we are closely monitoring each school every day in the service of keeping our schools open, our mission is grounded in the fundamental value of in-person learning for students. At a time when students have missed a lot of instruction, we want to ensure the academic well-being of all of our students. We also realize that school plays a vitally important role in the social and emotional well-being of our children. It is a place for children to play, feel safe, and connect with their peers. It provides security and helps to reduce anxiety.
We thrive when we are together. We will strive to keep our school buildings open as long as possible while keeping the health and safety of our staff and students as the number one focus.