School start date pushed back in Muscogee Co.; students learning virtually for 3 weeks

School start date pushed back in Muscogee Co.; students learning virtually for 3 weeks

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Muscogee County students will be starting school a week later than originally expected after a spike in COVID-19 cases in Columbus led district officials and board members to reevaluate the reopening plan.

The Muscogee County School Board approved the superintendent’s recommendation to delay the start date during Monday night’s school board meeting.

Not only is the first day of school delayed, but students will be learning virtually for at least the first three and a half weeks of school. Superintendent Dr. David Lewis said he’s basing all of his decisions on science and medical expertise as they closely monitor the spread of COVID-19 in the area.

“Based on current data and in consultation with these specialist and local medical and public health agencies, we are bringing forward to you the recommendation this evening to delay the start of school to August 17 from August the 10,” Lewis said.

Under this updated reopening plan for the Muscogee County School District, Lewis said students will all learn virtually through Sept. 9.

“During which time we will continue to monitor the local impact of the virus in hopes of reconvening in- person instruction for all those who choose it,” the superintendent said.

Under this model, teachers will return to their buildings on August 3 in a staggered fashion. Teachers will have two weeks of training on how to be effective in a virtual environment.

Lewis said this virtual learning will not be like what they had the last few months of school.

“There will be direct instruction provided directly to students by their teachers. They will have some time just like they do in class to do seat work. That’s when they’ll be doing the same work at home. Everybody will have face-to-face instruction with their respective teachers during this three and a half week period,” Lewis explained.

The superintendent along with several board members are urging the community to follow social distancing guidelines.

“If we want children back in schools, we’ve got to cooperate and put on masks and go by the guidelines that the medical professionals have provided to us. And it’s not happening yet, but it can happen,” said Dr. Michael Edmondson, District 2 representative.

“Going on my 42nd year in public education, by far, this has been the most difficult, agonizing, and troubling decision to have to make because it affects so many and has a dramatic impact directly and indirectly on our entire community,” said Lewis.

Parents originally had until Friday, July 17 to submit their decisions for either in-person or virtual learning for their children for the first nine weeks of school. That deadline had been extended until Friday, July 24. However, parents don’t have to decide between in-person and virtual learning quite yet under this revised reopening plan.

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