Students in the Hall County School District will continue learning from home through Jan. 15 due to increased COVID-19 absences in Hall County team members.
The school district originally announced that the shift to learning from home would impact the first week of class following winter break, but this plan was extended by a week Thursday afternoon, according to a press release from the district.
The release states there were 170 COVID-19 related absences among Hall County team members as of Wednesday. The district also reports 170 to 190 adult absences per day that are non-COVID-19 related, according to the release.
“As a result, the district does not have the capacity to safely and effectively support the number of students currently enrolled for in-person instruction,” the release reads.
The number of people willing to substitute teach is also declining, according to the release. The number of positive cases of COVID-19 and quarantines among team members is also increasing.
Aside from classroom personnel, 15 to 20 bus drivers are absent per day on average due to COVID-19, and the pool of substitute drivers is limited. The release states other essential team members, such as those from technology, school nutrition and custodial services are also affected.
“We have said from day one that our biggest challenge in managing COVID-19 would not be spread among students in our buildings; but rather, would we have enough adults present to hold school and effectively deliver instruction,” the release reads.
The release cites protecting the health of the community and supporting the local healthcare system as another reason for the extension. As of Thursday, 340 patients with COVID-19 were being treated at Northeast Georgia Health System hospitals and long-term care facilities. Seven ICU beds were available in the system as of Thursday.
The district will continue to monitor its internal numbers and will consult with local health officials. The district will notify parents and stakeholders by the end of the day on Thursday, Jan. 14 regarding the plans for instruction following the MLK holiday, according to the release.
Once the district returns to in-person instruction, they will spend a limited number of days following a hybrid A/B schedule to introduce 200 percent accountability and mitigation measures.
“We thank you for your patience and flexibility during this pandemic. We will continue to strive to support the learning of all students under these challenging circumstances, and we are committed to the health and well-being of the Hall County community,” the release reads.