Written by: Rachel Norris 

It’s the first day of school for the family of Rachel Norris. Photo courtesy of Rachel Norris

Aug. 12, 2020, was the day. Nearly exactly five months after the last feet stepped out of a Buford City Schools building, the doors opened once again and students entered into the doors of our five schools. These students returned to a different environment and school than they left in March as the novel coronavirus had just begun its march to envelop our nation and world in sickness, death, shutdowns and economic hardship. Parents and teachers alike faced Aug. 12 with emotions ranging from excitement, nervousness, caution and especially pride. As one of the few schools in metro Atlanta offering the choice for in-person school, the eyes of many are on Buford City Schools. As a Buford alum, PTO volunteer and veteran parent to kids in three of our schools, I felt immense pride as I watched our leadership work endlessly on a plan to invite our kids back into the buildings and keep them as safe as possible. 

LaSauna Appling (BA teacher and parent to three digital learners), “the beginning of the 20-21 school year doesn’t look the way anyone would’ve imagined as we entered 2020. The one thing that is consistent is the passion of Buford teachers to teach their students. Regardless of face to face interaction or digitally, BCS teachers give their all to our students. Over the last few weeks, whether face to face or digitally teaching, I’ve witnessed teachers doing all in their power to make either learning situation a success. As a digital teacher, the support and effort from our digital families has been amazing during the first 3 days of school. So, although I’m not sure what the future holds, there are 2 things I do know … I’m blessed to be doing what I love and I’m surrounded by the best educators and amazing families.“

Buford City Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Downs has led our community with incredible humility, courage and kindness. Our teachers, custodial staff, cafeteria staff and administrators have worked so hard to make this possible. 

Dawn Gammon’s son Mick who is an eighth grader at BMS and her daughter Linda Grace who is a third grader at BA. Photo courtesy of Dawn Gammon.

Dawn Gammon (in-person learning for third and eighth grader) feels “grateful for the outstanding Buford leadership! We’re truly blessed to be equally supported and encouraged whether we opted for digital or face-to-face learning. This incredible staff thought of everything to keep our community safe! I hope the entire BCS staff knows we proudly stand beside you … supporting you every step of the way!

I am beyond thankful and amazed at the incredible communication, love and devotion that has gone into the endeavor of in person and digital learning for our students. I have always been proud to be a part of the Buford community. I am even more so now. I am thankful for the love and care for students and the pride in who we are as a community. We are family and we are in this together. Of course we aren’t perfect, and this might crash and burn in a few short weeks. However, I believe wholeheartedly and support in that whatever happens, our leadership has our students’ best interest in front of them. 

I hope that our teachers, administrators, custodians, office staff, bus drivers and cafeteria staff know that we as parents are FOR YOU. 

Lauren Larson (BMS teacher), “When you look at Buford, it’s easy to see we really are a true family. A family that encourages, protects, believes in, respects, trusts and supports with an ‘others come first mentality.’ Green and gold runs through our veins, and nothing is going to change that. This year may look like no other, but at the heart, we are still the same Buford we have always been. The kids come first; OUR KIDS! It doesn’t matter if they are digital learners or face-to-face because we will love them all the same. Together, we will get through these uncertain times, becoming smarter, experienced, courageous, compassionate, better prepared, empathic, stronger and more importantly, more faithful. As we prepare to ‘build the plane as we are flying it,’ we’ve got to remember that God called us into this profession for a reason and wouldn’t give us something He didn’t think we couldn’t handle. No, we don’t have all the answers. We don’t even have all the questions at this point, but we will figure this out … together. It’s time to persevere because we are stronger than any pandemic or obstacle in our way.”

No matter what, we are Buford United and Buford Strong. After three days in school, my children came home with a sparkle in their eyes, a smile on their faces and excitement I had not seen in them for several months. Being back in the building with friends, teachers and staff who love them so well was good for their souls, even as they had to wear masks and practice social distancing. Our kids are resilient! Thank you, Buford City Schools, for the opportunity to have a choice with our children’s education, and thank you for the hard work you have put into making this 2020-2021 school year a success no matter what happens.

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