Students will return to classes at Creekview, Etowah and Woodstock high schools on Sept. 3 using a hybrid system in which students attend in person two days a week and learn online other days.

The schools were closed earlier this month because of outbreaks of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the subject of a global pandemic since late winter.

Students have been learning online from home since the closures.

“The hybrid model will reduce class sizes at these three high schools, allowing for greater social distancing and limiting the number of students impacted by quarantines,” school system officials said in an announcement on the system website.

The new system will be used until at least Oct. 9, the end of the first nine-weeks instructional period, officials said.

Superintendent Brian Hightower announced at last week’s school board meeting that the new attendance model was being considered for the schools. System officials planned to visit Paulding County on Monday to observe how the system was working there.

Without the hybrid model, students would be going back into the same situation in which the schools had to close in the second week of the school year, Hightower said at last week’s board meeting. “If you keep doing what you’re doing and expect a different result, that’s pretty inefficient and ineffective,” he said.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, families served by Cherokee County School District were given the choice before school started Aug. 3 to send their children to schools for in-person instruction, or start the year online. Almost a quarter of students were signed up for the online option. The system serves more than 42,000 students total.

Cherokee County schools and other systems across the state closed campuses and instituted online learning in March in response to the pandemic.

In-person school was the overwhelmingly popular choice among Cherokee County parents surveyed after the conclusion of last school year and school board members in July endorsed a plan to reopen school campuses with procedures designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus in place.

The system’s response plan for COVID-19 includes options to close individual classrooms, whole wings of schools, entire schools, school zones and the entire system if needed.

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