School closure update
On Thursday, March 26, Gov. Brian Kemp extended public school closures through April 24. More information on that can be found here.
Students will not be returning to White County Schools until at least April 13.
The school system will continue instructional continuity plan (home learning for students) through Friday, April 3, Superintendent Dr. Laurie Burkett announced Tuesday. Spring break will be observed the following week as originally scheduled from April 6-10.
“The White County School System is grateful for all of the support and cooperation during the recent school closure,” Burkett said. “Ensuring that our students continue to learn during this time is our main priority. Teachers continue to be available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and can be contacted by email or phone during those times. Teacher websites and Google Classrooms will be updated regularly with student assignments. Packets are still available to K-1 students and any student that does not have Internet access. Please call your student’s school if you have any questions or concerns.”
On Tuesday morning, March 24, the White County Board of Education met via videoconference, with board members each connecting remotely. Burkett, sitting at a computer in the BOE meeting room, said everyone has done a great job developing and sustaining student instruction in a short amount of time.
Schools have been closed since Monday, March 16, to prevent potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. Students were sent home the prior week with instructional packets or Chromebook computers to aid with ongoing assignments.
Teachers, paraprofessionals and counselors have remained in regular contact and available for students needing assistance or simply someone to talk to during this time.
“It’s been completely a team effort and people are doing amazing things,” Burkett said. “So I feel really good about what we’re doing instructionally.”
Students can still receive free meals
The system’s summer feeding program, which provides children with breakfast and lunch, will continue at 13 locations throughout the county, along with a drive-thru at White County Middle School. Meals are available this week and next week, March 30 through April 3. The program was activated upon schools being closed.
“When we give students their lunch meal, we’re including shelf stable breakfast items for the following morning,” said White County School Nutrition Director Abby Rowland.
Staff served 5,066 meals – breakfast and lunch – during the program’s first week March 16-20, Rowland said. (Locations and schedules can be found at the school’s website, www.white.k12.ga.us.)
“My staff is doing a phenomenal job,” Rowland said. “They changed from regular feeding to summer feeding with a day’s notice. Great attitude. They’re loving being out in the community and seeing the kids. We’re just really pleased with how well that has gone and appreciate you allowing us to continue to feed the kids.”
The Backpack Buddies program also will be active in feeding, said Student Accountability Director Jennifer King. Families will go to their school on Friday, March 27, to pick up bags containing food to ensure children will have breakfast, lunch and dinner over the weekend. Backpack Buddies will be providing additional food for families on Friday, April 3.
Even with the ever-changing situation, Burkett was highly complementary of the school staff.
“I think in Abby’s case, you know in a crisis, leadership bubbles to the top, and Abby’s really been amazing, and her ladies have really been amazing throughout all of this,” Burkett said. “Kids are getting fed. I talked to other superintendent’s and they’re struggling with how to do this, how to do that. Abby and I talk almost every day and it’s just happening, and it’s because of her leadership.”
Burkett thanked the Board for its support.
“I just wanted to tell all of you that I appreciate you and your leadership and support, it means a lot to me,” Burkett said. “I want to thank all of our people here at this office. It’s really been amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish in a really tough time, but my leadership team here, they are second to none and they are making sacrifices and doing things that you just don’t see people doing, and I appreciate all of them, and you, very much.”
Board members also expressed their gratitude to Burkett and school system staff.
“You and your leadership and your team as well have done such an extraordinary job leading in such an extraordinary time,” said Board member Jon Estes.
Ongoing updates will be posted to the school system website, www.white.k12.ga.us.