Georgia schools will be closed through April 24

  • Fairview Elementary student Dennis Harkins gives Malinda Lathan and other school nutrition associates a thumbs up during the meal pickup at Fairview Elementary on Thursday. Free meals for students 18 and under are available at all elementary schools in Habersham County Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Photo by ALAN NESMITH
    Fairview Elementary student Dennis Harkins gives Malinda Lathan and other school nutrition associates a thumbs up during the meal pickup at Fairview Elementary on Thursday. Free meals for students 18 and under are available at all elementary schools in Habersham County Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Photo by ALAN NESMITH
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    Habersham County Schools will remain closed along with the rest of Georgia through April 24, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday afternoon.

    Superintendent Matthew Cooper was prepared to close schools locally at least through spring break, which would have kept school buildings empty until at least April 13. Now it will be another two weeks after that at minimum before students can return to in-person classes.

    “I do not think any reasonable person would think it a good idea to disrupt our ‘learning from home’ plan and bring students back for three days and then have spring break,” Cooper said before the governor extended the closure Thursday. 

    Cooper has praised the way his staff and students have handled the learning at home plan so far.

    “Throughout this process, we will continue to seek the advice of public health officials, school leaders, and families to ensure the health and safety of the educational community,” Kemp said Thursday. “As we approach April 24, we ask for continued patience and flexibility since circumstances may change, but we encourage families to stay strong and follow the guidance of federal, state, and local leaders in the weeks ahead.”

    Tallulah Falls School will not restart on-campus classes the rest of the school year, President Larry Peevy announced Wednesday.

    “We continue moving forward to meet the challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as they relate to the Tallulah Falls School campus and our local and international families. We appreciate the continuing understanding and support of the TFS family as we assess the situation to make decisions that will ensure the safety of all our students, faculty and staff,” Peevy said in a letter on the school’s web site.

    Tallulah Falls will continue to use the online learning platform that began on March 18. Spring break will still be April 3 through April 13, with online classes
returning Tuesday, April 14.

    “While all of our teachers and administrators would prefer to hold classes in person, we feel these steps are necessary and are in the best interest of the entire TFS community,” Peevy said. “All of the school’s immediate efforts continue to be focused on supporting our students, faculty and staff.”

    Cooper added that if and when it is determined that it is safe to reopen schools, there will need to be a transition period between the learning from home back to a normal school day. He said the scenario would look much like pre-planning before the start of a new school year.

   “After being closed for a month or more, much preparation will need to be done before getting back to normal,” Cooper said. 

    Cooper stressed that graduation has not been cancelled.

    “Many of our seniors have worked very hard in our schools for 13 or 14 years, depending on whether they were in our Pre-K program. I know that Habersham Central Principal Jonathan Stribling and our school board agree with me that the Class of 2020 deserves a real ceremony,” Cooper said. “As of now, our hope is that we can still have that ceremony in Raider Stadium on May 22. If nothing else, we will plan to have the ceremony sometime during the summer. During these challenging times it is important for us to give our students hope.”

    Plans for TFS’ prom and graduation are currently being evaluated by the TFS administration staff.

    “Unfortunately, a traditional commencement ceremony will not be possible. TFS faculty, staff and administration recognize that graduation is a joyous time for our students and their families. The school is working to develop an alternative commencement plan to celebrate all of our deserving graduates impacted this spring,” Peevy said.

    Tallulah Falls’ dormitories have been closed and all boarding students have returned home or to another location.

    The Georgia High School Association’s associate directors will meet Friday and possibly determine the future of high school spring athletics in the state.

NORTH GEORGIA TECH STILL CLOSED

     North Georgia Technical College announced Thursday that exclusive online instruction will be extended until April 13 and that the college’s originally scheduled graduation will be postponed to a later date to be determined.

    All face-to-face classes continue to be suspended and activities for students and guests are postponed.

    Spring break, scheduled for the week of April 6, will now be an online instruction week for the college. Also, the end of the term, originally scheduled for April 30 has been extended one week to May 7 for programs needing additional time to complete requirements. Students with questions regarding their particular class timeline and situation are encouraged to email and discuss with their individual instructors. 

    Students are asked to check their student email daily.

    Summer term, which is scheduled to begin May 20, remains on schedule for now.