Schools close, keep working for students

  • White County Schools Director of Student Accountability Jennifer King and Superintendent Dr. Laurie Burkett brought meals to a car in the drive-thru for a student feeding program, which is in place while schools are closed. (Photo/Stephanie Hill)
    White County Schools Director of Student Accountability Jennifer King and Superintendent Dr. Laurie Burkett brought meals to a car in the drive-thru for a student feeding program, which is in place while schools are closed. (Photo/Stephanie Hill)
  • White County School System administrators, White County Middle School administrators and nutrition staff worked hard on Monday, March 16, to pack breakfast and lunches for students. (Photo/Stephanie Hill)
    White County School System administrators, White County Middle School administrators and nutrition staff worked hard on Monday, March 16, to pack breakfast and lunches for students. (Photo/Stephanie Hill)
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Students won’t be returning to White County Schools until April.

On Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp ordered all public k-12 schools and colleges to remain closed through March 31 to prevent further spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). The move came only four days after the school system announced a weeklong closure from March 16-20 following conference calls with the governor and local school officials throughout the state.

“From all of the discussion, and an abundance of caution and trying to be proactive, we felt it was best to make that decision,” said White County Schools Superintendent Dr. Laurie Burkett.

She said keeping students out of classrooms hasn’t stopped them from learning. 

“While the buildings may be closed, school is happening all over the place,” Burkett said. “We have some great things going on. Our teachers and school administrators will continue to work collaboratively to provide meaningful instructional materials and opportunities for students during this time. In addition, they will continue to monitor and update all online assignments.”

Instructional packets for kindergarten students, first grade students, and students without Internet access may be picked up for the week of March 23-27 at the child’s school on Monday, March 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

More information is at www.white.k12.ga.us.

School officials will stay in contact with health officials about coronavirus updates, Burkett said. Even if students return to class April 1, plans are to stick with previously scheduled spring break dates of April 6-10.

Burkett said she’s overwhelmed and thankful for the support from the community.

 

Summer Feeding

When closings were first announced, the school system enacted its summer feeding program to ensure students still had meals they rely on each week.

Free breakfasts and lunches are being delivered to select locations throughout the county, just like the program’s usual protocol over summer break. There is also drive-through pickup at the middle school.

Locations and times for the feeding program include:

• White County Middle School (families will drive up to the front of the school, meals will be brought to their cars): 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

• Bryant Street Community Center: 11 a.m.

• Whitehall Commons Apartment: 11:15 a.m.

• Brookwood Village: 11:45 a.m.

• Mossy Acres Mobile Home Park: 12:15 p.m.

• Cleveland City Park: 11:30

• White Street: noon

• Oak Springs Community Center: 11:15 a.m.

• Lanier Ridge Apartments: 11:35 a.m.

• Sunny Ridge Apartments: noon

• Kinsey Town Bus Route: 11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

• Unicoi Hill Park: noon

• Shoal Creek Baptist Church: 11:30 a.m.

Testing

On Monday, March 16, the Georgia Department of Education announced that State School Superintendent Richard Woods had suspended state testing until further notice as a way to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Other Schools

The regional Mountain Education Charter High School also has closed its sites for students (including White County). MECHS will be using online learning during the school closure. More information is available at www.mymec.org/students.

Truett McConnell University President Dr. Emir Caner said Tuesday, March 17, that the university would move to online instruction for all courses through the spring semester. The announcement came four days after the private university said it would be closing with plans to resume classes March 30.

On March 16, North Georgia Technical College announced its move to online instruction for all campuses as of March 23. All classes and activities had been suspended for March 16-20.