Union County Schools gearing up for students’ return

Board of Education, News, Panthers Corner

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Union County School System’s (UCS) exploring options for the 2020-2021 school year, so students and faculty can safely return to class – either in the building or online.

A more developed plan will be presented to the board of education in July pertaining to the school calendar and remote classroom possibilities for UCS students.

“We want to propose some calendar changes to you. However, we don’t want to lose any student days, and we don’t want to lose any teacher days. They’re just calendar changes,” Assistant Superintendent David Murphy explained.

For instance, the days leading up to Thanksgiving Break could become online learning days. The extra time at home would provide the custodial staff with additional time to sanitize the schools.

A socially distanced Pledge of Allegiance.

Murphy expanded on anticipated calendar changes, “Pretty much every month we have a long weekend built in different things. If we do an online learning day before or teacher workday and having that be done at home, that allows us a long weekend to re-sanitize the buildings. This allows us to deep clean the buildings once a month.”

On these long student weekends, the teachers could work from home as well. Since COVID-19, teachers proved that they could complete their job requirements outside of the school.

Board member Cynthia Odom asked how many days the custodial staff would need to “deep clean” the school. Two to three days would be ideal with hopefully only one day needed for off-site learning or workdays.

Facilities Director Patton confirmed that all the buildings are undergoing thorough summer cleaning, including deep stripping all the wax, shampooing the carpet, and sanitizing buses. All these efforts were done in-house too. UCS installed hand sanitizer dispensers in the buses for students to use.

Additionally, facilities held meetings about adding UV-lights to every classroom to detect and prevent COVID-19. Mobile UV lights spend eight minutes in a room to sanitize it. They’re also looking into placing iconic rods and UV lights in the air hangers to clean the air.

“We really need to have some clearer information as to what will be taking place,” added Murphy. “Governor’s orders keep changing, lightening the load. There’s a possibility of a resurgence. We don’t know but we would like to wait until July so that we have some more information under review.”

Online Classroom Option

Superintendent John Hill addressed the necessity of having an online classroom option for medically fragile students. UCS will send out a survey in the near future for parents, guardians, and students to fill out to gather interest and determine best practices.

“Normally, we would be real deep in scheduling at this point in time,” said Hill. “We’re kind of having to wait a little bit, our principles are, until we have hard numbers from our people that we serve here in the community. We need to hear from the people that we’re here to serve, what do you want? So, we’re committed to providing a solid option to those parents who want that option, and we’re hoping, praying, planning on a brick and mortar reopening. That is a huge asterisk disclaimer depending on the current situation.”

Superintendent John Hill stressed the importance of parental input for the next school year.

The survey will be released over email, social media, and the school’s website within the next 10 days.

“We’re here to serve the kids and will do what we have to, to serve our students,” Hill closed. “It’s really important we get participation in that survey, so we know how to allocate our services.”

Spending Resolution

The board also passed a spending resolution for July and August 2020 because UCS is waiting on the state to make its final decision concerning budget cuts. UCS hasn’t passed a new budget, and a resolution is necessary to pay the bills. Once passed, the school system can spend a twelfth of the expenditure budget for those months.

“I would like to tell the board that, of course, our goal during this time is to be as lean as possible and keep our expenditures as low as possible. With the uncertainty with the state budget cuts that our heading our way, one-twelfth is the max, but our goal is to come in as low as we can every month until we pass our budget,” Hill explained.

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