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Glynn County Schools moving to distance learning amid rapid increase in COVID-19 cases

"To be truthful, we were really left with no other option," the superintendent said, saying soon there wouldn't be enough teachers for face-to-face instruction.

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. — Students in the Glynn County School System will move to distance learning from Aug. 30 to Sept. 10, following a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases among students and staff.

The school district's operational level under the "unprecedented conditions" surrounding COVID-19 within schools and in the community has escalated from Yellow Level to Red Level, according to a news release from the district Tuesday.

"To be truthful, we were really left with no other option," Glynn County Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Spence said in a statement sent to First Coast News. "Our numbers were increasing so rapidly that we would soon get to a point where we wouldn't have enough teaching staff to carry on face to face instruction."

Attendance will be optional for students and absences will be excused from Aug. 25 through Aug. 27, the district's news release says. Distance learning through Google Classroom will take place during regular school hours Aug. 30 through Sept. 10.

The following steps will be taken during that time:

  • Middle and high school students will follow their daily school schedule.
  • Elementary schools will provide families with scheduling information.
  • Parents are urged to continue to report positive COVID-19 cases to schools.
  • No classes will be held from Sept. 3 through 6 for the Labor Day weekend.
  • Updates on a return to in-person learning will be based on data collected by schools and provided to families no later than Sept. 10.
  • Middle school sports will be postponed until in-person classes resume.
  • High school sports and bands will continue under modifications and restrictions, including daily COVID-19 screenings.
  • All school district staff members will continue to physically report to their work sites for regular work hours.

Anyone with questions is asked to contact your individual school for further information.

Jasmine Colbert tells First Coast News she is discouraged, and wishes they would have started the school year with masks being required.

She says her 12-year-old son learns better inside the classroom at Needwood Middle School.

“This year, we were very happy. We got all the supplies, we got everything perfect," Colbert explained. "He was very excited to finally come back, and 11 days later we're right back where we started.“

For one father with three at Glyndale Elementary School, the change to virtual learning didn’t come soon enough.

“It's a little too late for that for a lot of families out there," the father said. “Yesterday, when my daughter went to school, she was fine. And then she complained of a sore throat. She was sent home, we picked her up and as soon as they called. And then today, she woke up with a runny nose and a cough. We took her to the doctor and that's when she tested positive for COVID.”

As of this past Friday, the Glynn County School System reported 380 positive cases among students and staff, which is more than triple what was reported the week before.

“It's very frustrating knowing that we were forced to take our kids to school and had no option to keep them home," the Glyndale parent explained.

“I just really wish people would take this more seriously so that our kids can do what they need to do and get the education they need to get," Colbert said.

Last week, the district announced it was moving to its "Yellow Level" of operations, including requiring masks for all students and adults inside school buildings. That followed the number of COVID-19 cases in schools rising above 1% of the district's population.

The Glynn County community's surge in COVID-19 cases led the Southeast Georgia Health System last week to set up a mobile morgue at its Brunswick Campus, which saw 16 COVID-19-related deaths within a two-week span.

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