Schools serving more in-person learners this semester

“We had parents indicate they wanted students to return,” said Valerie Whitehead, executive director of strategy and innovation for Glynn County Schools, during an update provided to the Glynn County Board of Education during its work session Thursday.

“And then schools also notified parents of students that were academically ineligible because that was not a successful environment for their students to be in.”

Whitehead, the school system’s main contact with the local health department, said the county’s 14-day community transmission index for COVID-19 increased recently and that some students have not been able to return to school because of positive coronavirus tests in recent days. Some also have had to go into quarantine since returning to school Wednesday, when the spring semester began.

“We have had two situations where students attended (Wednesday) and then were found to be positive after some point,” she said.

She told the board some students were sent home on quarantine Thursday.

The district is following new quarantine guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the health department. Rather than requiring students to quarantine a full 14-days, additional options are now available if a student does not have symptoms during a specific amount of time.

“If the parents choose to have them tested and they’ve not had symptoms, they can test after day five and they could return as early as day eight as long as they have a negative test,” Whitehead said. “If they don’t want to test and the student remains asymptomatic, they can return on day 11. Or the parent could choose to have the student out for the full recommended 14-day quarantine and it would still be a COVID absence where we would be providing distance learning for that student through Google Classroom. We are using that new protocol for students to be able to return to school.”

Whitehead also announced that school system staff may soon be able to receive vaccines, saying they’ll be included in the next priority group for distribution.

“(Coastal Health District Director Dr. Lawton Davis) is hopeful that by the end of this month we’ll start to be able to schedule getting any of our educators in,” Whitehead said.

School nurses were included in the first vaccine recipient group, and several have already received both shot doses, Whitehead said.

Superintendent Scott Spence said he will continue to require masks in schools for at least the next month. He plans to decide on a month-by-month basis this semester whether to extend the mask mandate.

In other business, assistant superintendent of finances Andrea Preston announced that all school district staff will receive today the stipend approved last month by the school board. Full-time employees will receive $600, and part-time staff will get $300.

Spence also announced that College of Coastal Georgia plans to present the school district with an intergovernmental agreement regarding the performing arts center, a project that’s been delayed due in part to the financial toll of the pandemic.