GWINNETT COUNTY: What students and parents need to know about back to school policies

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Gwinnett County Public Schools has released it updated guidance for students and staff returning to school this fall. The district’s first day of school is Aug. 4.

This year, most of Gwinnett’s 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.

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

Here are the latest protocols for Gwinnett County’s 2021-2022 school year.

Face coverings

  • Gwinnett County Public Schools updated its plan for masks for back-to-school on July 27 in accordance with updated guidance from the CDC. 
  • Masks are required on all campuses and in all Gwinnett County Public Schools’ facilities. Schools will plan for appropriate mask breaks.
  • Schools will provide regular reminders about proper mask use (covering nose and mouth, fitted at sides, etc.)
  • Promoting vaccination for those who are eligible
  • Physical distancing when feasible

Cleaning and sanitizing

  • Continuing use of enhanced ventilation practices, including the installation and use of upgraded MERV 13 filters
  • Encouraging regular handwashing and the use of sanitizer
  • Promoting proper respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes, disposing of tissues, etc.)

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Quarantine and COVID reporting

  • Emphasizing the need for individuals to stay home if they are sick, have been exposed to a known case, or are being tested for COVID
  • Continuing the Health Response Teams (HRT) process that was used this past year to identify close contacts and report positive cases
  • Following health department guidance regarding isolation and quarantine
  • Continuing with cleaning and disinfection practices in schools and on buses, focusing on high-touch areas
  • GCPS has an established protocol for cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting buildings, and high-touch surfaces and objects.
  • Staff have the supplies needed to clean and sanitize surfaces in the classroom as needed.

Vaccinations

Individuals ages 12 and older are eligible to receive COVID vaccinations. In addition, families should be aware of two other childhood vaccinations—MCV4 (required for 7th and 11th graders) and Tdap (required for rising 7th graders). Please contact the Health Department or your health provider for information about vaccinations.

Digital Learning for Grade K-5

Of the nearly 180,000 students who attend Gwinnett County Public Schools, approximately 2% have opted out of in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year. Here are some quick facts about K-5 digital learning:

  • Elementary students will be assigned to a teacher from their school, within their cluster, or another school in the district.
  • Students will remain enrolled at their home school so that they can take part in clubs, activities, social events, etc.
  • Classes will be delivered largely in a synchronous setting (similar to 2020-21). Synchronous classes require that the student be logged in to participate during a specific time.
  • The digital learning schedule may be different from the in-person schedule.
  • Please read this FAQ for Families of Digital K-5 Students.

Digital Learning for Grades 6-12

Of the nearly 180,000 students enrolled in Gwinnett County Public Schools, approximately 2% have opted out of in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year. Here are some quick facts about digital learning for students in grades 6-12:

  • Grade 6-12 students will be enrolled concurrently at both their home school and at Gwinnett Online Campus (GOC). They will participate in the GOC online platform for classes.
  • Academic and elective classes will be taught through GOC.
  • Students will be able to take part in athletics, clubs, activities, social events, etc., at their home school.
  • Counseling and Advisement will be provided through GOC for digital learners.
  • Parents should contact the GOC teacher to discuss their student’s progress, grades, attendance, etc.

Transportation

  • GCPS has established reasonable and precautionary practices for transporting students to and from school.
  • Buses will operate at maximum capacity as usual. Physical distancing will not be possible on school buses.
  • Buses will be cleaned/disinfected at the end of the morning and afternoon routes.

Visitors

  • Parents and guardians may volunteer at school, but only in areas with limited access to students.
  • Parents and guardians wishing to eat lunch with their students will sit in a specified area set up in the cafeteria.
  • Gwinnett County Public Schools’ visitor management process will be strengthened this year as the district rolls out a new tool to promote safety in our schools. The visitor management system is used to verify the identity of a visitor, keep track of check-in and check-out times, and print custom visitor badges. This year, GCPS schools will begin using a new tool called Raptor that enables each school building to screen all visitors against the National Sex Offender Registry and establishes a consistent sign-in process across the district. The goal is to enhance the safety and security of both students and staff by preventing access by those who pose a potential threat. The new system will go live in high schools the week of August 16, in elementary schools the first week in September, and in middle schools the third week of September. Click here for FAQs about enhancements to the visitor management process.
  • UPDATE TO STUDENT CHECK-IN PROCESS FOR ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOLS-- A new process for student check-ins at GCPS elementary and middle schools will offer a touchless option and faster service. The new process is tied to the district’s student information system. Students and their parent/guardian have the option of downloading the StudentVue and ParentVue app to access the student’s electronic ID card.   (This is the system high school students have used for the past two years.) This system will be in place in GCPS elementary schools the first week of September and will go live in middle schools during the third week of September.