ACC School Bus 2

Clarke County School District Interim Superintendent Xernona Thomas announced she tested positive for COVID-19. (Photo/Reynolds Rogers)

The Clarke County School District will offer an option for online learning to all students from pre-K through the 12th grade this fall. The district released its reopening plan in a letter to parents on Tuesday signed by interim superintendent Xernona Thomas.

School is tentatively scheduled to start on Aug. 3, but CCSD said the start date may be adjusted as new information arrives. There have been 775 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Athens as of Tuesday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. 229 were reported during the week of June 29-July 5.

Less than 30% of parents said they were comfortable with sending their children back on Aug. 3 if no changes are made to account for COVID-19, according to a survey completed by district parents and staff.

The reopening plan released Tuesday included enhanced safety protocols. Face coverings will be required when social distancing isn’t possible and highly encouraged at all times. Students who need a mask will be provided one. Bus pickup and the start time of school will be impacted in some way to promote social distancing, but the district didn’t provide any further details in the email.

Students enrolled at one of three CCSD high schools have several learning options. They can take in-person classes two days a week in a hybrid model or enroll in a fully online semester. Students will be locked into a virtual learning plan for the entire semester if they choose to do online school through the district.

Juniors and seniors are also allowed to take classes through the Georgia Department of Education’s Georgia Virtual School, which doesn’t fall under CCSD’s oversight.

Elementary and middle school students can either take in-person classes from Monday-Thursday with Friday as a designated online learning day or go fully online. Those enrolled in the virtual option can return to in-person instruction after nine weeks of school.

CCSD teachers and students will use private company Edgenuity for its virtual learning option. Oconee County, which neighbors Athens-Clarke County, released its plan last week and also plans on using Edgenuity.

Families will have to choose between in-person instruction or online learning between July 14 and 17, the letter said.

High school cheerleading, marching band and junior ROTC will resume with safety guidelines in place, CCSD said. Fall sports tryouts and workouts are occurring under the guidance of the Georgia High School Association, which governs high school athletics. Current GHSA guidelines recommend face coverings and allow groups of up to 50 people.

All other in-person extracurricular activities will be delayed, the email said.

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