SUWANEE — The Gwinnett County Public School district announced on Wednesday that all in-person learning students will transition to digital learning starting the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. All students will be digital beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19 as Monday is a school holiday. The announcement stated that the school system will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation to determine its impact on staffing to be able to return to in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 25.
GCPS CEO/Superintendent Mr. J. Alvin Wilbanks said, “As students returned to in-person and digital instruction this semester, we acknowledged the need to monitor the impact the rising COVID numbers within our community might have on our schools. The reality is that our school system — like our community and the state — is feeling the results of the holidays and winter break. We are experiencing higher number of cases, suspected cases, and close contacts among our in-person students and staff. The move to 100% digital learning for the coming week will allow us to effectively serve students while also doing what is best for our students and staff given the current situation.”
He stated that the decision to transition to digital was “not made lightly.” The school system made plans in case this scenario happened. He went on to say that they fully intend to honor the choices that families made in regard to their child’s learning whether it be digital or in-person. However, the school system must have the staff available to facilitate in-person learning.
The school system is experiencing wide spread staffing issues following winter break. GCPS had 125 new reports of employees testing positive for COVID-19, were suspected of having it or were in close contact with someone who has it on Jan. 12 alone. In total, GCPS has 785 employees out for COVID-related reasons. Of that number, 460 of those are teachers. Combine that with the shortage of substitute teachers and the school district simply cannot staff the schools adequately.
Being digital next week will allow the necessary time for a good portion of the employees who are out to finish out their quarantine period.
“We understand that the move to 100 percent digital may create hardships for families. That said, we feel that this is a necessary measure that will provide time for ill employees to get well and for those who are quarantined to be cleared for return to work,” Mr. Wilbanks said.
Students are expected to do their assignments daily and attendance will be counted.
For more information, visit the Gwinnett County Public School district’s website.
— Staff Reports