10 districts, including the state’s largest, head back to school Wednesday

Ten north Georgia school districts, including the state’s largest school district, are heading back to school Wednesday.

August 4 marks the first day for Bartow County, Bremen City, Buford City, Clarke County, Douglas County, Griffin-Spalding, select groups in Gwinnett County, Heard County, Henry County and Oconee County.

Channel 2 Action News This Morning has complete coverage of everything you need to know about Back 2 School in your area. From COVID-19 policies, interviews with local superintendents, the latest headlines, weather and traffic, make sure you tune in every morning from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m.

On Tuesday, Douglas County made a major change: it will now require masks in all school buildings and on buses. Gwinnett County and Clarke County will also require masks starting the first day of school.

Here is what parents and students need to know before they head back to the classroom for the first time this school yea

[SPECIAL SECTION: Channel 2′s complete guide for back to school 2021 in north Georgia]

Bartow County

Bartow County Schools will return to school with normal operating procedures. The district says it will make adjustments as needed and continue to monitor for any outbreaks.

Masks are optional for students and staff in school buildings, on school buses, and at extracurricular activities. BCS says it will provide disposable masks to anyone who requests one.

Field trips and school assemblies will be allowed to resume. Water fountains and water bottle filling stations will be available.

The district’s full back to school plan can be found here.

Buford City Schools

The school district strongly recommend that non-vaccinated students and teachers wear face coverings when they are at school. However, masking is optional at BCS. Students will be required to wear cloth face coverings on BCS school buses.

Social distancing will be encouraged indoors and where appropriate. The district will follow the CDC recommendation of 3 feet distance when possible.

Like last year, any student or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate in accordance with the isolation guidelines from the Georgia Department of Public Health.

BCS will continue to provide hand sanitizer in all classrooms, common areas, and school buses. If a positive case of COVID-19 is confirmed in a classroom, building, or school bus, additional disinfecting will occur the same day.

The water fountains in each school are operational. However, BCS highly recommends students continue the use of clear, personal water bottles.

Clarke County

Masks will be required indoors for all elementary and middle school students, staff and visitors regardless of vaccination status; however masks will only be recommended for high school students, staff and visitors.

The district also plans for social distancing of 3 feet to be promoted wherever possible in all schools. Masks will be required for all students and staff on CCSD buses.

Full-time virtual learning is not available this year but there are some high school virtual courses available online.

Field Trips will be allowed and conducted in accordance with our public health rules. After School Programs will be available.

Douglas County

Douglas County Schools announced on August 3 that masks will now be required in all school buildings and on buses.

Superintendent Trent North cited the high transmission status, the two-week case rate and and the two-week positivity rate in Douglas County.

From the many emails and calls I have received, I understand that we have parents who want a mask mandate and those who do not. I understand both sides of the issue. Please know that while we always value parental input, COVID protocols are based on the data and the guidance of healthcare professionals. Our goal is to keep our students as safe as possible. As the COVID numbers decrease and the vaccination rates increase in our community, we will consider making masks optional again,” North said in a letter.

Douglas County School System is offering two online learning options for the school year. The deadline originally passed to register but the district says it understands that some parents may want to switch due to COVID-19 cases increasing.

Parents who want to make the change will need to click here to fill out an interest form. If the interest form is completed by August 6, parents will be contacted by August 9 with your child’s schedule and login information. If you fill out the form after August 6, you will be scheduled as you are added.

The deadline is August 13.

Griffin-Spalding

Masks are optional for all staff and students and available upon request for students in buildings and on school buses.

The district says thermal cameras will be used to monitor body temperatures. Schools will observe 3 foot distancing when possible and students will be given assigned seating.

Griffin-Spalding Schools asked that all parents remain in cars during drop off/pickup. Limited visitors will be permitted, by appointment, to conduct school-related business.

A full list of protocols can be found here.

BACK 2 SCHOOL

Gwinnett County (Grades K-1, 6, 9 with digital learning)

Most of Gwinnett County Public Schools’ nearly 180,000 students will be attending school in-person; however, families of approximately 3,400 students selected for their children to remain digital this year.

GCPS will have a staggered back-to-school plan:

  • Aug. 4 – Grades K, 1, 6, 9, and students receiving Special Education services in a small-group setting begin in-person classes
  • Aug. 5 – Grades 2, 3, 7, and 10 begin in-person classes
  • Aug. 9 – Grades 4, 5, 8, 11, and 12 begin in-person classes

The digital learning schedule may be different from the in-person schedule.

The state’s largest school district announced that masks will be required for all students and staff. Schools will plan for appropriate mask breaks.

Buses will operate at maximum capacity as usual. Physical distancing will not be possible on school buses.

Henry County

Henry County Schools is giving options to its 43,000 students this year, which includes optional masks and a newly restructured virtual academy with teachers dedicated to online learners.

Making sure seniors can recover credits and graduate on time, responding swiftly to COVID-19, addressing and assessing learning gaps, and using funding to meet students where they are, is a list of priorities for Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis and her team from day one.

“We navigated everything together, and as we start to see this hope on the horizon, we are seeing this hope as a stronger unified leadership for our community that depend on all of these organizations in their daily life,” Davis said.

The district says it hired 400 new teachers. Channel 2 Action News visited Eagles Landing High School where several teachers were in orientation two weeks ago.

Darrien James will be teaching biology to 9th and 10th grades. Delana McQuiston is also new to the district and first year teacher.

“I’m excited to meet all my students here and for them to be in person and engage and leave the digital environment,” James said.

“I want to do some icebreakers and get to know my students,” McQuiston said. “Do like a interest survey to see what they’re interested in and try and tailor some of my lessons toward their interest so they’re more engaged.”

Oconee County

Oconee County Schools says it is looking forward to all students returning to in-person learning.

Field trips, assemblies, and special events will also resume this school year. Visitors will also be welcomed back to all campuses.

Staff, students, and visitors are not required, but may choose, to wear masks in school buildings.

COVID-19 vaccinations are not required for employees or students, but remain available and accessible. The district says approximately 80% of its staff and over 50% of Oconee County residents are fully vaccinated.

OCS says it will continue reporting positive cases to the Department of Public Health to assist with contact tracing efforts. DPH will be the lead on contact tracing and will notify close contacts.

A full list of protocols for the school year can be found here.