Tate Elementary Principal Stephanie Hall, left, and Pickens Superintendent Rick Townsend, right, greet State School superintendent Richard Woods and his wife Lisha at Tate Elementary School Thursday.
The state school superintendent made the rounds of several schools in north Georgia Thursday seeing how different campuses are handling COVID restrictions, including Tate Elementary School.
State Supt. Richard Woods told school officials plus State Rep. Rick Jasper and wife Marcia that he must get a little ways outside the metro Atlanta to find schools holding in-person classes.
“It’s really different place to place,” Woods said. In the metro area, it’s mostly digital but in most of the other counties, it’s about 70 percent in person and 30 percent virtual.
Pickens Supt. Rick Townsend said here, it was similar with 25 percent virtual.
Tate Elementary Principal Stephanie Hall said they had gotten off to a good start on August 17th. She said for her students and for her own family with four kids in the school system, it’s been really important for the students to be back on campus. “The kids and parents are very excited,” she said.
Woods said from what he sees across the state, the educators are doing a great job; the most challenging points are the transition between classes and the transportation. High school, where there is a lot of class switching, has presented the biggest challenge. Townsend agreed adding transportation is another prime area of concern. Townsend said they have taken all the precautions possible with buses and so far it appeared to have paid off.
In Pickens, the superintendent said, there have been five confirmed active coronavirus cases, with 28 to 30 students in quarantine as of late last week.
Woods said around the state they are seeing systems where a lot of students are in quarantine but only a few diagnosed cases. He said this results from situations where there is a lot of class switching. “If you have one [positive] student who switches class six or seven times they can lead to the whole school being in contact with them.”
Woods said the systems he has visited are all doing things slightly different depending on local conditions but overall the state has done well. “The goal once we started school is to keep it rolling,” he said.
Sports lifts spirits
Locally, Supt. Townsend commented that people in this area were excited to see high school football kicking off with the big Pickens and Gilmer rivalry.
Woods said thus far the systems who have restarted sports appear to have done so without seeing any significant negative impacts. He said for the other fall sports like volleyball and softball, there hadn’t been any serious outbreaks tied to them in Georgia.
He said football will be a bigger challenge with more crowded stands for fans and players in closer contacts.