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CCSD and COVID-19: Information

Last Updated: 7/2/2020 4:31 PM

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Note:  A complete list of communications shared with parents, employees and the community can be found here.

COMMUNICATION UPDATE: JULY 1, 2020

July 1, 2020: Graduation Update

We will hold official commencement ceremonies for our Class of 2020 following the schedule previously announced and which is posted at https://bit.ly/CCSD2020 

Unfortunately, these ceremonies only will be open to our graduating seniors and our staff members who have a role in the event.  No additional family or guests will be permitted to attend.  Our graduation ceremony host site, First Baptist Church of Woodstock, cannot accommodate the additional guests with the social-distancing required for a large gathering.  Our graduates and staff will be distanced in their seating; masks will be encouraged, but not required.  We would face the same dilemma if we moved the ceremonies to stadiums or another venue, but by continuing to use the church, we will be able to maintain the same quality ceremony as we have in the past and live stream the event, and we will not have to cancel due to inclement weather. 

June 22, 2020:  Please Complete Questionnaire to Help Us Plan

The Superintendent's decision on reopening schools will be one of three options: 

•    Opening on Aug. 3 in-person, at-school instruction with additional, reasonable safety measures;
•    Opening on Aug. 3 online with a more rigorous version of Digital Learning Days remote instruction; or,
•    Opening on Aug. 3 with both options in place.  Parents would choose one option for their child.  

The decision will be based on public health conditions in our county and any mandates issued between now and then by the state or federal government and health officials.  CCSD staff is hard at work preparing for these options.  

We have reached the point in this planning process when we need your direct assistance.  Given the information provided to you today, we need to know which option you prefer for your child.  The purpose of this poll is to give parents a chance to share a preference for your student(s).  While your response isn’t a “vote,” it is important information that will help us ensure we have adequate resources allocated for all three plans.  The decision you make today will not limit your decision to later change your mind, but we ask you to be as honest as possible. 

The brief questionnaire we need you to please complete will be available online at https://bit.ly/CCSDby629.  You will need your child’s student ID and a special code linked to your child in order to complete it.  A separate email will be sent today, to the email address for your child’s primary parent/guardian contact, from NoReply@cherokee.k12.ga.us and will include your child’s student ID and the special code.  Multiple attempts to use a code will invalidate all attempts. Please complete this questionnaire by 5 p.m. Monday, June 29, as it will be closed to responses after that deadline.

June 18, 2020:  Reopening Update

Dr. Hightower updated the School Board on the process to develop reopening plans, which began with the appointment of an advisory committee made up of CCSD educators, parents and partners.  Chief Operations Officer Dr. Debra Murdock, who is leading the committee, spoke briefly to the School Board about its initial meeting.  Chief Human Resources Officer Rick Beaulieu is leading a separate advisory committee made up entirely of CCSD staff from different occupations within the organization.  

Both groups will provide feedback to Dr. Hightower as he determines an official reopening plan, which he remains committed to announcing to the CCSD community in as timely a manner as possible in July.  

As shared earlier this month with the School Board, employees and parents, CCSD took a step toward “return to school” with “return to play,” by permitting small groups of student athletes to participate in limited conditioning activities on school campuses.  Based on new guidance issued today by the Georgia High Schools Association, the number of athletes permitted on a campus at a time will double beginning next week.

Dr. Hightower also announced during the meeting that year-round CCSD staff, who have worked remotely throughout the school and office closures, will return to their worksites beginning Monday, June 22.  All CCSD employees were notified this week of the plan, which is the first phase in returning all CCSD staff to their worksites, with details to be announced as soon as possible for employees who typically would not work in June and/or most of July.  Additionally, he announced that his annual leadership symposium held in mid-July, which provides back-to-school updates and training for district leaders and school administrators, will be held virtually instead of in person.

During the meeting, Dr. Hightower also announced he will send a questionnaire to CCSD parents next week asking whether they would prefer to send their children back to school in person on Aug. 3, or instead participate in online learning from home.  The questionnaires will be connected to students by their student ID, and the data will be used to ensure resources are available for both options being considered by Dr. Hightower.

5/20/2020:  Planning for Reopening

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower has tasked Chief Operations Officer Dr. Debra Murdock with gathering information and feedback on several reopening options for next school year, including a cost analysis, for opening in person in August, either on Aug. 3 or a delayed start, with an increased focus on health and wellness including: frequent disinfecting of high-touch areas, temperature checks, signage about hand-washing and similar wellness musts, smaller groups of students at each lunch seating, and other measures.  While this potential option still is in development, and will be reviewed along with other options by an ad hoc committee of staff, parents and community partners led by Dr. Murdock, initial budget adjustments for additional custodial service, cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment are estimated at $2.25 Million.

Given the significant impact continued Digital Learning Days would have on families, and how disruptive a hybrid of a partial in-person and virtual learning option can be for working parents, Dr. Hightower said he will not make a determination about the reopening of schools until July 1 at the earliest.  Dr. Hightower reiterated that he and his leadership team will be extremely sensitive to students, parents and employees as a plan for reopening is developed and implemented.  

5/18/2020:  Graduate Event and Summer Resources

The Superintendent has authorized a special #2020CCSDGrads recognition for the Class of 2020 on Friday, May 29.  As part of the last weekly observance when our high school football stadiums are illuminated for 20 minutes at 8:20 p.m. (20:20 military time) on Fridays, we will hold Class of 2020 parades at the schools from 7 to 9 p.m.   Graduates will drive through a pick-up area for honor cords, medals and other special regalia and, as a gift to every senior from their Principal, each will receive an embroidered school patch to affix to their keepsake graduation robes. A decision about holding actual graduation ceremonies will be made by July 1.

SUMMER RESOURCES: To help parents keep their children on track for a great start back to school, CCSD has created a Summer Learning Adventure website of vetted resources for students of all ages.  This collection of free resources features plenty of activities to keep students engaged in learning throughout the summer break.  From hands-on STEM activities and outdoor games to career exploration and weekly featured activities, there are dozens of engaging and exciting choices.  Through the website, students also will continue to have access to many of the online learning programs they regularly use in school.  The website at https://bit.ly/CCSDsummer20 will be updated throughout the summer break.

4/27/2020:  Dates Set for Tentative Graduation Ceremonies

CCSD has reserved the auditorium of First Baptist Church of Woodstock to host ceremonies on this schedule: Thursday, July 23, 4 p.m. River Ridge HS and 8 p.m. Woodstock HS; Friday, July 24, 4 p.m. Cherokee HS and 8 p.m. Sequoyah HS; and Saturday, July 25, 9 a.m. Creekview HS and 1 p.m. Etowah HS.

While a final decision will be made by July 1, the tentative plan is for our graduating seniors, as we have in years past, to invite all family and friends to attend.  We will celebrate in the spacious, air-conditioned auditorium where guests will hear our top students’ speeches and watch our seniors march across a beautiful stage.  Should it be necessary to make adjustments to continue social distancing, such as limiting attendance, we’ll make an announcement by July 1.  Should it not be feasible to hold ceremonies in person due to continuing health and safety concerns, we’ll announce by July 1 plans to host a virtual ceremony.

4/16/2020:  School year ending May 8

The Cherokee County School Board this evening (April 16) unanimously approved the Superintendent of Schools’ recommendation to end school early on May 8 and to postpone a decision on high school graduation ceremonies until July 1. Teachers will work from May 9-22 with students who need more time and help to complete assignments and tests to pass classes, and will continue preparing high school students for AP course exams to potentially earn college credit.  Final grades will be issued on May 22 in Canvas for high school students, and through emailed report cards for elementary and middle school students.  Prior to May 22, CCSD also will provide parents with links to available online resources for students who want to continue their learning over the summer. 

 

4/1/2020: School closures and Digital Learning Days have been extended through the end of the school year.  Spring Break will be held as previously scheduled from April 6-10, with no online classes. 

On behalf of the Superintendent, please be advised that Gov. Brian Kemp has extended his closure of all schools statewide through the close of the school year.  This announcement also cancels all events scheduled to take place at CCSD schools, all CCSD special events and extra-curricular activities, and all community leases of CCSD facilities through May 31, 2020.   Over the coming days, the Superintendent and staff will develop recommendations for School Board approval regarding operations and programming for the remainder of the year.  This will include time-sensitive topics such as the completion of the academic year, final grades and graduation.  In the interim, CCSD will continue Digital Learning Days; Spring Break (April 6-10) will be observed as scheduled with no Digital Learning Days. #SafeCherokee


3/26/2020

On behalf of the Superintendent, please be advised that the Governor has extended the statewide closure of all schools, including the Cherokee County School District, through April 24, 2020.  The Governor said he will make a decision prior to April 24 as to whether schools will re-open this school year.  This extended closure also means all events scheduled to take place at CCSD schools, all CCSD special events and extra-curricular activities and all community leases of CCSD facilities are cancelled through April 24.  CCSD will continue Digital Learning Days through April 3 and then again from April 13-24; Spring Break will be observed as scheduled from April 6-10 with no Digital Learning Days.  Also during this extended closure, CCSD will continue providing technology, Canvas and other learning support, as well as the #CCSDserves to-go meal program.  Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower again expressed how much he appreciates the dedication of our students, parents and employees during this challenging time: we are here to support you -- we are all in this together. #CCSDfam


3/12/2020

On behalf of the Superintendent, please be advised that all Cherokee County School District schools and offices will be closed for two weeks from Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020.  We will use Digital Learning Days during this closure to continue teaching and learning.

This decision was not made lightly, but was based on new information and serious concerns shared today by Governor Brian Kemp and the Georgia Department of Public Health in regard to coronavirus COVID-19 and its threat to our State and community.

We are not closing Friday, March 13, 2020, as we need to allow time for students and staff to retrieve needed materials and technology to be prepared for this closure.  However, should you as a parent decide to keep your child home, that absence will be excused without academic penalty and with the ability to make up missed work.

All CCSD activities including athletics and extra-curriculars, including Georgia High Schools Association (GHSA) events, are cancelled effective immediately.  This is in addition to the cancellations/postponements of CCSD special events and field trips announced earlier today.  However, After School Program will be held on Friday, March 13, 2020, and SAT testing will be held on Saturday, March 14, 2020 as planned. 

Non-CCSD activities held on our campuses, such as league sports and church services, also will not be held during the two-week closing, effective Monday, March 16.  During this closure, our custodians will use this time to deep clean our schools.

Beginning Monday, March 16, we will use our Canvas learning management system to continue teaching and learning through Digital Learning Days.  More information about this system is online here; teachers will communicate with students and parents through Canvas.  If your child does not have access to technology or the Internet, please reach out to their teacher as soon as possible tomorrow about options available through CCSD.  

Our School Nutrition department has applied with the State to provide to-go meals to our neediest schools.  We will communicate with eligible families as soon as possible.

We know this closure will lead to hardships for many of our students and families.  We know you may have other questions for which we don’t yet have answers.  We are committed to doing our best to serve your children in this challenging time.

Barbara P. Jacoby
Chief Communications Officer
Cherokee County School District

 

CCSD has taken additional steps to reduce possible COVID-19 cases, including setting the following guidelines:

SPECIAL EVENTS:  Effectively immediately (March 12, 2020), all school and CCSD special events scheduled for the remainder of March 2020 are cancelled/postponed; competition-based Georgia High Schools Association (GHSA)-sanctioned athletics and extra-curricular activities will be reviewed by the Superintendent on a case-by-case basis over the coming days relative to cancellation/postponement.  The March 19, 2020 School Board Meeting is planned to be held as scheduled, but there will be no student or staff recognitions.  All school and CCSD special events scheduled during April and May, including, but not limited to, high school graduations, have NOT been cancelled/postponed at this time.

FIELD TRIPS:  Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, all CCSD field trips (including all out-of-state CCSD athletic travel) for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year are cancelled/postponed. Our Office of Curriculum & Instruction is working with Principals to pursue rescheduling or vouchers/refunds for students and families.  Additionally, specific high school internship programs at external worksites are being suspended temporarily; impacted students will be notified.

ENROLLMENT: Prior to enrolling, new families to CCSD from countries with travel advisories for COVID-19 issued by the CDC are asked to refrain from coming to the school and to instead call in advance for instructions.  CCSD will work with the Department of Public Health (DPH) to determine appropriate registration and attendance plans.

FACILITIES: Custodians are using products confirmed by the manufacturer to kill viruses and are focused on ensuring schools are cleaned and well-stocked with soap and paper towels.  If warranted, additional custodial staff will be deployed to assist.  Custodians are being provided additional training focused on sanitizing high-touch areas (desktops, keyboards, bathroom fixtures, water fountains, door handles, etc.) with virus-killing products.  Custodians will be working additional shifts to allow for more time to be spent on this sanitizing.  

STAFF TRAVEL:  Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, participation in all non-essential, work-related travel and out-of-county professional development conferences for all CCSD employees is cancelled/postponed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.  The status of in-county trainings and meetings will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

REPORTING TRAVEL: Parents/guardians of CCSD students and CCSD employees should inform DPH if anyone in their household has traveled to areas with travel advisories for COVID-19 issued by the CDC.  Upon notification by DPH, schools will work with DPH to determine the appropriate action regarding re-entry of those children and employees into the school.

We also are working through our Principals and school nurses to ensure students and staff understand and follow best every-day healthy practices like frequently washing hands.

If there is a specific issue at your child’s school, please contact the school’s front office.

These guidelines will be continuously reviewed and expanded as needed and updated on this webpage.