Troup Schools to Close for Two Weeks over Corona Virus Concerns
During an emergency called Troup County School Board Meeting Friday afternoon, the school board voted unanimously to close schools for two weeks due to concerns over the corona virus.
School Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate advised that he recommended following the recommendations of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and the State Board of Education to close schools for two weeks in an effort to help contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Shumate noted that he spoke with state officials and was advised the two-week closure would not cause any penalties, whether to test scores or funding. The schools would also not have to make up the days at the end of the school year if the closure is limited to two weeks (10 school days).
The schools were already closed on Friday due to a planned teacher work day, so the schools will be closed from March 16-27.
Depending on how things go, the kids would come back for a week and then have the next week off for spring break. Shumate advised that staff considered extending the school closure another week to take advantage of the planned spring break time off, but stated any closures beyond two weeks could cause penalties from the state and possibly force an extended school year.
“It was fortunate that we didn’t have school today for kids,” said Shumate. “It gives us a little bit of breathing room, so that teachers can do some work and we’ve done a lot of strategizing over the last 24 hours.”
Shumate noted that the primary reason for the closure is to help contain the virus. Kids don’t often get major symptoms from the virus, but they can still carry the contagion, which they are likely to spread in classrooms.
Shumate advised that school system employees will not lose any pay because the closure.
“We have an expectation that everyone is on duty and working. Some will be on duty and/or working from home remotely,” said Shumate. Others will be able to make up their work time at a later date.
The schools will be basically closed for business with the exception of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday, so that parents can pick up their child’s belongings, medication, or instructional materials.
The school system plans to have online tutorial services available and paper instructional packets for those without internet access. The home learning will be on a voluntary basis and kids will not be graded on the out-of-classroom instruction. Parents can pick up the paper packets at the schools.
“If a parent tells us they can’t get to those materials, we will find a way to get it to them,” said Shumate.
The school system also plans to offer a lunch program, similar to what they offer during the summer, so packed lunches can be picked up at designated locations each day during the closure.
The closure also means the cancellation or postponement of all extracurricular activities while schools are closed. The upcoming Teacher of the Year banquet is also being postponed.
Dr. Shumate acknowledged that the closure isn’t going to be easy for anyone, especially working parents, but noted they have to be cautious considering the circumstances.
“I would rather just have school and move on, but I don’t think we can do that at this point,” he said.
The author of this article can be reached via email at info@troupcountynews. net.
Tommy Murphy Staff Writer