Dear BCS families,
As many of you are aware, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have altered their guidance for those deemed a close contact to a positive Covid-19 case. The Department of Public Health (DPH) is now following the CDC’s new directive and asked that schools adhere to this new quarantine timeline. You will see our new guidance attached.
For many, the news of a reduced length of time for those in quarantine is a welcome relief. The CDC director, Robert Redfield, recently shared in a coronavirus task force briefing that the rate of transmission in schools is extremely low. The cases reported from schools have come from outside of the school buildings. Our facilities management and custodial teams work tirelessly to ensure a healthy environment for our staff and students. I can honestly say that I feel our schools are the safest place for our students to learn.
At this time, I ask once again for your patience. With these changes, our fantastic school nurses and administrators will be adjusting their processes for the new timeline of students returning. Please grant them the grace needed as they rework the system we are accustomed to over the last five months. As guidance shifts, we will do our best to communicate those changes as quickly as possible.
Dear BCS Families,
Though I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I don’t know exactly where this tunnel is going. What I do know is that next week, we will conclude our “normal” school year on May 21. I continue to be grateful for all that each of you has done to support your student and our teachers and get us to the end of this tunnel.
As I have done each week during the closure, here are a few short updates and reminders:
Bringing Closure to the School Year
Next week the schools will have drive-thru service for you to collect your student’s belongings. It will be everything our staff can do to not hug each of you, but help them by staying in your car, and open your trunk or car window for a staff member to place those items in your car. You can find information about your student’s pick-up time and procedures HERE.
As was the case for the first semester, our end-of-the-year report cards will be sent home digitally through parent email addresses. These files are secured PDF files that will require your student’s date of birth in the MM/DD/YYYY format to open them. They will expire after 14 days, so please print a copy for your records during that timeframe. You can expect to receive your report card by the end of May.
No Kid Hungry
Next week we will wrap-up our emergency meal delivery service. I can't thank our Nutrition and Transportation Departments enough, as well as the many staff volunteers, who made this not only possible but successful. Each time I am there I'm in awe of their seamless process. Thank you to our community friends who provided lunches for our volunteers.
If your family is in need of meal or financial assistance during the summer please reach out to our community partners at the North Gwinnett Coop. Another useful website is Food Finder where you can see times, dates, and locations of resources in our area for meal assistance.
Roadmap to Return
I want to acknowledge the conversation that is occurring in many BCS homes: what will school look like in the Fall? While I don’t have a crystal ball, I do want to assure you that BCS is working hard to be prepared for when that day comes. Such considerations include but are not limited to medical safety protocols, increased cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and the potential for additional school closures in the future. We are in regular collaboration with the Georgia Department of Education, the Department of Public Health, and metro-Atlanta superintendents. I understand the importance of schools being open in the Fall; I also acknowledge the magnitude of prioritizing our students’ health and safety in making such decisions.
As we look ahead to the future, there are at least two scenarios I can imagine regarding schooling. One scenario is where we resume normal school and are more intentional about leveraging technology to support student learning at home. Through a Chromebook (or another device) and our digital learning platforms, our students would have the opportunity to make their home an extension of the classroom. In other words, your child would access digital resources to complement what occurs inside their classroom during the school day. The other scenario is less encouraging where our schools close for some period of time due to another COVID-19 outbreak. I can’t predict if or when; I just know, based on medical experts, that this scenario is within the realm of possibility.
Either way, whether we are planning for normal school or future school closures, we must learn from this current experience. I couldn’t be prouder of how our staff and students performed during the abrupt change to our daily instruction. But if we are faced with school closures in the future – be that for weeks due to COVID-19 or a single day due to snow – we have an opportunity now to make digital learning more effective the next time.
Until then, please know that we will work to continue to support each student and every family.
In this together,
Each school has established a safe distribution plan to deliver the students' items. Please pull up to the designated location and stay in your car so that we can continue to adhere to safe social-distancing practices. Place a sign with your student’s first and last name in the windshield so that staff can retrieve their items. A staff member will place your student’s items in the truck of your car or through a window you have rolled down. We appreciate your adherence to these guidelines so that we can do our part in keeping everyone healthy, as well as keeping the lines moving to respect everyone’s time.
Parents, we appreciate your partnership and flexibility as we continue to navigate digital instruction and student learning during these trying times. The beginning of the 2020-2021 school year will look differently for all Georgia students. Our teachers and administrators are already working to identify and address academic gaps students may have experienced during digital learning/school closure. Beginning in May and continuing through the summer, teachers will collaborate to identify standards that need to be retaught, create pre-assessments to evaluate learning, and revise curriculum calendars to reflect the needs of individual students. Rest assured, we will meet learners where they are to ensure their academic success moving forward. Please refer to the plan outlined below for end of year digital learning and grading plans.
(Click on the video to watch a message from Dr. Downs.)
Dear BCS Families,
This week brought beautiful weather, so hopefully, your children enjoyed their (digital) recess and P.E. outside. Below I wanted to recap where to find links to important information.
As we continue to use our digital learning platforms to engage and educate our students, we know there will be questions to arise. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher with any questions or concerns you may have.
You can find the grading systems being used here:
We know that some families are facing obstacles during our Digital Learning days. If your student needs printed materials or additional assistance please reach out to their teacher. Our staff is using different methods to ensure that each student is able to continue with their educational growth. The state has put together a comprehensive list of resources for families needing high-speed connectivity. Click here to view that LIST.
No Kid Hungry
Our meal delivery service has found its stride and is running smoothly. We appreciate all our staff who are volunteering to make this successful! If you need further assistance, our friends at the North Gwinnett Cooperative are available to help.
Board of Education Meeting
As we still work under Governor Kemp’s shelter-in-place order, our monthly Board of Education meeting will broadcast on Facebook Live on Monday, April 20 at 12 pm. You will find the video feed on the Buford City Schools’ Facebook page.
Buford counts! The Census funds schools, roads, healthcare, and more. We need to make sure everyone completes the Census information to ensure proper funding for the next 10 years. This process is completely confidential. A kindergartener counted in the 2020 Census this spring will be starting high school when the next census comes around in 2030: That’s 10 years of school supplies, teachers, school lunches, and so much more. This is your opportunity to help ensure they have a bright future.
Everywhere we turn the expression “we’re in this together” is being used. Even I have used it. Recently, I was thinking about the fact that Buford has always been “in it together”. In the last five weeks as needs have arisen there has been an abundance of volunteers wanting to step up. I am extremely proud to be a part of this community, to be in the trenches each day with an amazing faculty striving to give our students their best. To be successfully following the social-distancing guidelines, I don’t feel distant from our students. Their needs are our guiding light each day as we trudge through difficult decisions and seek ways to mitigate their losses. Thank you, Buford, for being not just a community but a family.
Dr. Downs, Superintendent
The call has been made that we all were dreading. We know it’s in the best interest of our community’s health to close our school doors for the remainder of the year, but that doesn’t make it easier to look into the eyes of our students and staff and see their anguish.
Last night, as I was processing the magnitude of this announcement and the decisions that lie ahead, my thoughts continually went to our seniors. We want to celebrate them and all they have contributed to our schools. My hope is to give them the graduation they deserve. Due to the fact that the Buford Arena is our facility, it gives us leeway in that planning, but until Governor Kemp clears the current restrictions, we just are not able to plan for that.
I know that you have many questions regarding what the next steps will be, for example:
Digital Learning Continuation
No Hungry Kid
I know this is a stressful and challenging time for your family, but Buford is known for working together to take care of our students. As we move through this situation, please be assured that we are working to provide the best possible solutions under these circumstances. Our staff is second to none in their devotion to students, and that commitment is only strengthened by hard times. We will get through this together.
Grading during Digital Learning Update (grades 1-8) – March 30, 2020
Buford City Schools will implement a new grading system for the remainder of school closure (through April 27) for grades 1-8. The goal of this new grading system is to provide low impact grades for all students while providing additional support for those students who have not yet mastered standards in the four content areas. Teachers have already provided face-to-face instruction over the majority of the grade level standards. Yearly averages should not be negatively impacted.
Students who were passing courses as of March 13 for yearly average will receive a weekly participation grade (100) if they submit all of their work for the week. Participation Grades will be included in final grade calculations but will be low impact grades and will not significantly increase or decrease a student’s averages. As of March 13, all students will have three grades to date, Week 1 Participation, Week 2 Participation, and Week 3 Participation. (Note: 1st and 2nd Grade student Participation grades began with Week 2) Grades taken between March 16-present will remain in the gradebook but will not impact final average as noted by the asterisk.
Students who were failing any of the four content area courses (ELA, math, science, and social studies) as of March 13 for the yearly average, will continue to receive Participation grades and additional support and grades in the area he/she was failing until the student is passing the course.
3rd Quarter Middle School Connections classes will be converted to Semester 2 classes in Power School and teachers will continue to give a weekly participation grade.
We appreciate your patience as we all work together to navigate the digital learning process and find a healthy balance to continue learning. If you have questions about a particular class, please reach out to your child’s teacher.
- With Governor Kemp’s recent executive order, we have had to make some difficult decisions regarding upcoming events.
- Blood Drive at Buford Arena (March 30-31) – This is considered an essential gathering and will take place using the precautions the Red Cross has set up. This blood drive is by appointment only and we appreciate all who have signed up.
- K-5 Teacher Parade – Postponed
- BHS Prom – Postponed (With this taking place at the Arena we have the flexibility that other districts do not have.)
- BHS Variety Show (April 30 – May 1) – Canceled
- Run the Rails / Buford Open – Both of these events take place in May, so we are not making a decision regarding them at this time.
- Graduation – No decision has been made on events occurring in May.
- No one is turned away based on income.
- The child(ren) that is 18 years or younger must be present to receive the meals.
- Hours for services will change to: Monday 4pm-8pm / Wednesday, Thursday & Friday 10am-2pm / Saturday Noon-2pm
- Hours for donations will change to: Monday Noon-8pm / Wed-Sat 10am-4pm. (See a list of current needs here.)
In closing, I thank each of you for your persistence, patience, and understanding. Now more than ever, I am grateful for how each of you continues to support our BCS children and community. Please continue to over-communicate with school staff or me as you have specific needs – we are all here for your success.
COVID-19 Update – March 16, 2020
When we received Governor Kemp’s recommendation to close, our most immediate concern was how quickly we could begin feeding our students who would no longer have access to the healthy meals provided through our School Nutrition Program. I am happy to share that thanks to the quick work of our staff, we received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) to begin feeding students on Tuesday, March 17.
Please know that many thoughtful discussions led to our Meal Delivery Plan, with the well-being and needs of our students as the main focus. I am proud to share that each weekday until schools are back in session, we will be providing a healthy breakfast and lunch to youth that is 18 years old and younger. These meals are available regardless of Free and Reduced Lunch status.
In the hopes of decreasing the burden on families, we are deploying our school buses as mobile delivery units. Each weekday, our bus drivers will load up their bus with meals and stop at 9 sites across our district. We have a team of dedicated drivers and school nutrition professionals who will work diligently to ensure that our students receive a healthy meal. All food preparation and delivery are being conducted in accordance with the Department of Public Health guidelines.
At this time, our meal delivery to students is being run by our staff but should that change and we need volunteers we will reach out to our BCS family.
If you are interested in our Meal Delivery Program, please use this link to find more information and determine which location is best for you.
Additional Food Assistance
Our friends at the North Gwinnett Cooperative have reached out to our community to share additional assistance they are providing. Each family they assist will receive on average 50 pounds of food in addition to gift cards to local grocery stores (while supplies last). Please contact them directly with any questions.
For those who have generously reached out asking where you can be of assistance, please consider donating those resources to the North Gwinnett Co-Op. We partner with them throughout the year as they serve our families each month. You can find specific needs updated regularly on their Facebook page.
With the vast number of closures, some families who rely on internet access at different locations have been halted. This can make digital learning plans difficult, so we want to share options that are available at this time.
Comcast has announced that they will offer 60 days of free internet, waiving the usual $9.95/mo fee, through their Internet Essentials service to help low-income students and families stay connected to the internet during the impacts of COVID-19. Low-income families who live in a Comcast service area can sign up as new customers to receive 60 days of free Internet. According to Comcast, to qualify, applicants must be eligible for public-assistance programs such as the National School Lunch Program, Housing Assistance, Medicaid, SNAP, or SSI. Visit internetessentials.com to enroll or call (855) 846-8376 for English or 855-765-6995 for Spanish.
Charter Communications also announced free public Wi-Fi for 60 days, with Charter offering free broadband for households with students through college age who don’t already have a subscription.
Second Semester Progress Reports
The second-semester progress reports for grades 1-12 will be emailed today. For security purposes, this file is password protected and will expire in 14 days. To open the progress report, you will need to enter your student’s date of birth using the MM/DD/YYYY format (for example 08/07/2005). There must be two digits for the month, two digits for the day, and four digits for the year, as well as a / separating those numbers. If you would like to print a copy you will need to do so before 3/30/2020. We will not be able to offer printed copies until schools resume. If you have any questions about your student’s grades, please contact the teacher(s) directly.
State Testing Suspended
The Georgia Department of Education announced this morning that State Superintendent Richard Woods has suspended state testing (including Georgia Milestones EOGs and EOCs, the Georgia Alternate Assessment/GAA 2.0, and all other required testings) until further notice.
COVID-19 Update – March 15, 2020
MEAL DELIVERY DURING SCHOOL CLOSURE
In discussions regarding school closures due to COVID-19, one of our immediate concerns is making sure our students stay fed. Our School Nutrition and Transportation Departments have developed a plan to deliver breakfast and lunch to our students at specific stops throughout our district. As we focus on the safety and well-being of our students, providing a healthy meal is a top priority.
If you have a Buford City Schools student in grades PreK-12 (18 years old and younger) in need of a healthy breakfast and lunch during our school closure, please refer to the BCS Meal Delivery Site List below. Please note that you are welcome at any of our distribution sites, regardless of your specific school or home location.
A healthy breakfast and lunch will be delivered at the times listed for each location every day, starting Tuesday, March 17, and continuing until school is back in session. Student must be present to receive meals.
BCS Meal Delivery Site List
Bloom at Buford (Management Office) 9am - 9:30am
Buford Academy 9am - 10am
Buford First United Methodist Church 9am - 10am
Countryside Village (Community & Sales Office) 9am - 10am
Eagle Creek (Parking Lot Closest to South Lee St.) 9:25am - 9:45am
Frenchies (Sudderth Rd & French Blvd) 9:35am - 10am
Peeblebrook (Gas Plus by Entrance) 9am - 10am
Rose Hill Plantation (Sturgeon Rd & Sturgeon Circle) 9am - 9:20am
Windridge (Management Office) 9:50am - 10am
COVID-19 Update – March 12, 2020
In light of the most recent announcements from Governor Brian Kemp, and consultation with our neighboring school districts and the Georgia Department of Education, Buford City Schools will be closed beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020. The district will monitor closely and assess the situation to determine if this closure should be extended past this week. When a date to re-open is determined we will let you know immediately. This decision comes as a result of thoughtful discussions regarding what is best for our students, staff, and families. Schools and offices will be open for our scheduled early release day, tomorrow, Friday, March 13, 2020, as we prepare for this closure.
Additionally, all athletic practices and competitions will be canceled beginning Saturday, March 14, 2020, and will resume when school is back in session.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this unprecedented situation for our district and community. As we have continued to communicate, this is ever-changing and we may need to extend this closure accordingly. We are committed to providing you with information and updates throughout the closure. Look for additional correspondence from me within the near future regarding how we intend to support our students during this closure.
COVID-19 Update – March 9, 2020
Coronavirus: Information and Guidelines for Buford City Schools
The District Leadership has been maintaining close contact with public health officials and continue to follow their guidance on the health-related developments. In an effort to keep our students, employees, and families safe, we remain committed to following the most current recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) and/or the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). The following updates will be in effect immediately.
Enrollment of New Students from Identified High-Risk Areas:
Families attempting to enroll a student from areas with a Level 3 or 4 Travel Health Notice advisory for the coronavirus, as identified by the CDC and/or the US Department of State, should contact via telephone and/or email their school for instructions related to registration.
Re-entry of Students Traveling from Identified High-Risk Areas:
Families should inform their school via telephone and/or email if their student has traveled to areas with a Level 3 or 4 Travel Health Notice advisory for the coronavirus, as identified by the CDC or the US Department of State. The local school will work with the family to determine the appropriate action regarding the re-entry of the child into school.
Re-entry of Employees Traveling from Identified High-Risk Areas:
Employees should inform their supervisor via telephone and/or email, prior to returning to work, if they have traveled to areas with a Level 3 or 4 Travel Health Notice advisory for the coronavirus, as identified by the CDC or the US Department of State.
COVID-19 Update – March 5, 2020
Buford City Schools (BCS) is continuing to closely monitor influenza and coronavirus (now named COVID-19) with the professional guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our local Gwinnett County Health Department. These are the agencies whose directives we follow about the prevention of disease, injury and disability; promotion of health and well-being; and preparation for and response to emergencies from a health perspective.
You can use these tips to help prevent the spread of flu, the coronavirus, and other illness:
Keep children who are sick at home. Don’t send them to school.
Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Cough/sneeze into your elbow or cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue; throw the tissue away; wash your hands.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
The most up-to-date and reliable information about COVID-19 can be found on the CDC website, and according to the CDC, the risk to the U.S. public is low at this time. However, the coronavirus has impacted travel for several countries. If your family has upcoming international travel plans, we encourage you to visit this link for the most current travel advisories.
In BCS, our standard practices during cold and flu season are to use diligent cleaning processes and to monitor student absences. Recently, we have increased and enhanced our custodial procedures. Each day in our schools, frequently used/shared surfaces and items such as door knobs, desks, and computer keyboards will be cleaned, and each classroom and school bus will be supplied with a spray bottle of cleaner that can be used as needed for cleaning. Additionally, we will use foggers in our schools and buses to disinfect those areas not easily cleaned by hand. Please be assured that all cleaning products are safe and approved for schools and do not leave a residue after use. Our administration continues to track student health data and absenteeism on a regular basis so that we can identify the health patterns of our students and staff. We have encouraged school staff to be diligent in referring students to the school nurse if they show fever or flu-like symptoms.