Gwinnett County Public Schools parents who want their children back in the classroom will eventually get their wish after all.
Just not for at least the first two weeks of the school year, Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks announced on Tuesday.
Gwinnett County schools will still begin the school year in an all digital format for all students on Aug. 12, but some students will be allowed to return to schools for in-person instruction starting Aug. 26. Eventually, all students will be allowed to be in school for in-person instruction, if their families chose to do so, by Sept. 9.
“We have stated from the beginning of the COVID crisis that in-person instruction for every student is what we prefer and would work to achieve,” Wilbanks said in a letter to parents. “That remains our primary objective, and is the focus of this letter. We will begin to implement in-person instruction for students whose parents desire it, and do so as soon and as safely as possible.”
Gwinnett county Public Schools’ plans for the 2020-2021 school year have shifted a few times over the summer. Initially, the district was set to begin the school year this week with a blend of in-person and digital instruction, based on parents choice.
Then the start date was pushed back to Aug. 12, but still with a blend of in-person and digital instruction, before school system announced it would be an all digital start to the school year. Now, the plan is to start out all digital and move toward the blend originally envisioned in less than a month.
“Student and staff safety will be the paramount factor in determining the pace at which we will move,” Wilbanks said. “We plan to begin small, bringing in a limited number of grade levels at first, then adding more grades on a staggered basis.
“As we have done throughout the past months, we will rely on guidance from health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the Gwinnett County Department of Public Health, as well as the Georgia Department of Education, in making that determination.”
Under a “best case scenario,” starting Aug. 26, kindergartners, first-graders, sixth-graders, ninth-graders and all self-contained special education classes will be offered in-person as well as digitally based on the parents choice.
Starting Sept. 2, second-graders, third-graders, seventh-graders and 10th-graders will be allowed to return to schools for in-person instruction.
And finally, all remaining students whose parents opted for in-person instruction will be allowed to return to school on Sept. 9.
“Adjustments to the dates and the grade levels listed may be necessary based on the still-fluid COVID-19 situation in Gwinnett County,” Wilbanks said. “Regardless of the timeline, we will monitor the local conditions on a regular basis, and with guidance from our health partners, will either slow down the return to school or continue with the plan accordingly.
“Updates to the plan will be communicated promptly and as far in advance as possible so families and employees have time to prepare. At all times, extensive protective measures will be in place to sanitize our facilities, maintain social distance to the fullest extent possible, and make the return to school safe for children and adults.”
This past week the Gwinnett County Public Schools Teachers of the Year held a Sanitation Don…