Information » Return to Learn Fall 2020

Return to Learn Fall 2020

August 11, 2020

Dear BCS families,

The day has finally arrived! I hope your children are as excited about tomorrow as we are. If the last five months have taught us anything, it has taught us that adjustments will need to be made. As much as I would like to say we have thought of everything, it's simply impossible. What I can tell you is that we have worked extremely hard to create a feasible plan to balance educational expectations with safety guidelines. As new challenges occur, our administrative leaders will find the best possible solution, just as they have done repeatedly since March 13.

I am proud of the work our staff has put in to provide a safe learning environment. Many of the teachers worked through the summer setting up our new learning management system, Canvas, so that the transition for your students would be seamless. Our facilities management team began working in the spring to make the necessary changes to comply with federal and state guidelines. You can see some of the safety measures that have been incorporated into the schools HERE.

Below you will find a document explaining the steps we have established for our schools when a student, staff member, or family member has received a positive COVID-19 test. Our protocols have been approved by the Department of Public Health, with who we work closely. The most important step I want to stress is that if your student does not feel well, he/she needs to stay home. If you have any questions about whether a student should be home or at school, please reach out to the school’s nurse

As you send your students off to school tomorrow, I know you will be anxious and filled with questions. You are not alone. A lot of the first days will be reacclimating and assessing needs. Our counselors and social worker are prepared to assist staff and students with any concerns during this transition. If you take nothing else away from this email, please know that your student is loved and is our top priority.

It has been a team effort to bring us to this day, and you have played an integral part. The support and faith you continue to provide to me graciously are appreciated.

Go Wolves!

Sincerely,

Dr. Downs

July 20, 2020

First, I want to thank everyone for the generous support you consistently provide my staff and me. It is fair to say that there is not a right or wrong way right now. There isn’t a handbook for any of the decisions that we are facing each day. For every answer, there seem to be two more questions to follow. We face these decisions head-on each day with a resolution to do what we feel is in the best interest of our students and staff.

Today at our monthly Board of Education meeting, I presented our Return to Learn plan. You can view that presentation HERE.  I know that other school districts have chosen to begin their year with a complete digital learning format, but I am resolute in my belief that our schools are the safest place for our students to be. The size of our district lends itself to options that aren’t feasible in larger districts.

I know that every family has a different situation to consider the current climate. We have offered the digital learning option, in addition to our in-person instruction, hoping to serve all of our families in a format that suits them best. With our new learning management system, Canvas, ready to be implemented, we feel prepared for both learning options. Our Board voted today to delay our first day of school until August 12, 2020, to allow an extra week of preplanning for our teachers. This time will be spent learning how to optimize Canvas, both in-person and for digital learning.

With the new date for the first day of school being a week later, our schools will be shifting some of their dates as well. They will send that information as soon as those details are available. Our administrators are currently finalizing the digital learning class rosters, so we will not send out homeroom teacher assignments for K-5 until July 29. You will find the updated school calendar attached to this email.

We have had many discussions with many staff and community members over the last week. One of the most significant concerns shared with me is the use of face coverings. Face coverings are mandatory when social distancing is not possible. This directive allows our teachers to give breaks from face coverings when the students are separated and working independently. Please make sure your student brings a face covering that complies with the standards set in our Return to Learn guidance.

As each day draws closer to reopening our doors, I am cautiously optimistic that we will soon hear the sounds of education once again echoing through our halls. While the target keeps moving, we are doing everything possible to ensure a safe and healthy atmosphere in our buildings, along with an excellent level of education. Thank you for your grace and understanding as we work to bring to you the details you deserve.

Sincerely,

Dr. Downs

You can read each school's Return to Learn plan here:
 
July 9, 2020
 
It is important to me that we continue to over-communicate with you regarding our reopening plan and protocols for Fall 2020. I sincerely appreciate the continued grace and flexibility you have afforded our school leaders and me, as the dynamics relative to COVID-19 and school reopening evolve each and every day. Our commitment to your family continues to be transparent communication and, to the greatest degree possible, personalization, and respect for your family’s circumstances. We understand and acknowledge the decision to return to school is a highly personal one for each family, and we are here to help in whatever way possible.
 
As you make your decision as to the best educational choice for your student, we know you want to know what the "brick and mortar" school environment will be like for your child. We have tried to answer as many of those as possible in our BCS Family Guide to Fall 2020. As guidance from the state and local officials changes, these protocols may have to be adjusted.
 
Face Covering Requirements
I acknowledge the decision to wear a face covering is very personal. I also acknowledge, as we prioritize the safety of students and staff, that we are committed to being on the safe side of medical research and on the progressive side of student and staff safety. 
Given the most recent guidance, we strongly recommend that BCS students wear cloth face coverings while at school. Students will be required to wear cloth face coverings on BCS school buses. This protocol will be included as part of the school reopening guidelines. We encourage families to obtain reusable/washable face coverings for their student(s); however, a disposable mask will be provided for any student who boards the school bus without an appropriate face covering.
BCS staff will be required to wear cloth face coverings when in common areas, such as halls, media centers, etc. and when social distancing is not possible.
 
BCS will also offer a digital learning option for all students, K-12, including tuition students. The digital learning option will require a significant commitment from students and parents, as it will be a full semester commitment (90 instructional days). In order for students to be successful with digital learning, parents must be willing to provide adequate support at home. Digital learning will NOT look the same as the digital learning experience this past spring. Attendance, grading, and accountability expectations will be consistent for students participating in either digital learning or traditional, face to face instruction. Digital learning will be taught by BCS teachers, and instruction will parallel face to face instruction provided in BCS classrooms. Specials/connections/elective courses may be limited for those students choosing the digital option. 
 
Our Curriculum Department has prepared Frequently Asked Questions to assist in your decision-making process.
 
If you would like your child to participate through digital learning instruction please complete this form: Digital Learning Request FormA separate digital learning request form must be completed for each student wishing to participate in digital learning by July 15.
 
Athletic and Extra-curricular Participation for Digital Learning Students 
All middle and high school students who are otherwise eligible will be allowed to participate in athletic and extra-curricular activities. As of the time of this correspondence, the Georgia High School Athletic Association has made no formal ruling regarding fall athletics; however, we will update you as soon as such decisions are made.
 
School Start Date – Fall 2020
I am aware that Gwinnett County Public Schools and Hall County Schools have decided to push their school start date back to August 12. While I respect their decisions, their dynamics do not alter the fact that we will be ready to open as planned. As evidenced by our reopening guides for families and staff, we have prepared and will continue to do such, so we can welcome our students back to school for in-person and digital learning August 5. If a directive from Governor Kemp or health agencies changes this projected start date, we will immediately notify our BCS families. As we get closer to the beginning of the new school year, your child’s school will send school-specific information.
 
As hard as we try to answer all of your questions about our reopening plans, it is simply not possible. I want to provide for you an opportunity to ask those questions before the deadline for the Digital Learning Request Form. On Tuesday, July 14, I will host Virtual Town Hall Meetings with the schools’ principals. There will be one for K-5 (6:00 PM) and one for 6-12 (7:00 PM) so that we can answer grade-specific questions. If you would like to submit a question for the Virtual Town Hall Meetings, you may use this FORM. This form will close at 9:00 AM on Monday, July 13, to allow time to prepare for the meetings. The links to watch these meetings will be sent by Monday. 
 
Thank you once again for your grace and flexibility. Please know that we will continue to communicate with you early and often – we will navigate these ever-changing dynamics together and, through this partnership and collaboration, give your child a learning environment that is safe and of the highest quality.
 
In this together,
 
Dr. Downs