As most Gwinnett County schools head into spring break, district leaders will have to plan at least two more weeks without in-class instruction after Gov. Brian Kemp’s latest executive order.
On Thursday, Kemp announced he was using executive powers to extend the closure of public schools in Georgia for in-person instruction until April 24. All public kindergarten through 12th grade schools have been closed in Georgia since March 18 in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus known as COVID-19. Gwinnett County Public Schools has not hosted teachers or students in schools since March 16.
Before Kemp’s announcement, GCPS already stated it would continue digital learning and providing meals for students following spring break, starting April 6 and continuing through April 10.
The Georgia Department of Education and the state’s largest district continue to take two different approaches during the COVID-19 pandemic. GCPS intends to continue to roll out plans for digital learning and meal deliveries on a weekly basis, while the state has twice closed schools weeks in advance.
“We are appreciative to Governor Kemp for making what had to be a tough decision in a timely manner,” CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said Thursday. “Nothing in the Governor’s Executive Order would preclude us from resuming our use of Digital Learning Days beginning on April 6 after Gwinnett’s Spring Break. Our Digital Learning Days have gone well and we are continuing to develop more lessons and to address the support that teachers and students have indicated they need. We are confident that we can continue providing quality instruction online for as long as is necessary.”
A release from the governor’s office said it’s a possibility students may return to school on April 27, but the governor simultaneously asked for Georgians’ continued patience and flexibility throughout the process.
“I am deeply grateful to State School Superintendent Richard Woods, the Georgia Department of Education, superintendents, and parents for keeping us informed and helping us make the right decision for our students,” Kemp said. “Throughout this process, we will continue to seek the advice of public health officials, school leaders, and families to ensure the health and safety of the educational community. As we approach April 24, 2020, we ask for continued patience and flexibility since circumstances may change, but we encourage families to stay strong and follow the guidance of federal, state, and local leaders in the weeks ahead.”
Next week, March 30 through April 3, is GCPS’ spring break, and meals will not be provided to students while all offices are closed. GCPS is currently working with the gwinnettcares.org team and the co-ops in the county, which will provide a plan for serving Gwinnett families who need assistance during spring break. GCPS plans to communicate additional information about those plans.
Kemp initially issued an executive order to close all elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools in the state from March 18 until March 31. Many district in metro Atlanta, including GCPS had already closed school buildings to students and teachers on March 12.
The University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia will remain closed for in-person instruction through the rest of the semester since students have already transitioned to all online learning.