Three Cherokee County high schools using hybrid attendance models after COVID-19 outbreaks led to campus closures in August will return to five days of in-person instruction on Oct. 13, school system officials announced Monday.
Also announced Monday, extracurricular activities will resume in all grades and at all campuses beginning the week of Oct. 12. Among the activities returning to campuses are performing arts, PTA meetings, winter sports preparation, fundraisers and more.
Officials also announced that families wishing to continue with digital learning from home for their middle and high school students during second semester will be able to do so. No decision has been made yet on offering a continuation of digital learning for elementary school students.
“Additionally, the Superintendent today has appointed an ad hoc committee made up of educators, administrators and students to develop guidelines for the design and implementation of a permanent CCSD Virtual School choice to possibly begin next school year for high school students,” system spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said in a statement.
Creekview, Etowah and Woodstock high schools closed within a few days of each other in August after each saw outbreaks of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the subject of a global pandemic since late winter. They shifted to online learning and later resumed in-person instruction under a hybrid-schedule combining in-school and at-home learning.
Under the hybrid system about half the student body of each school attended classes Monday and Tuesday, while the rest continued online learning from home. Then on Thursday and Friday, the other half of students attend in-person classes.
According to a school system report, there were two active COVID-19 cases each on Friday at Creekview and Etowah high schools. Woodstock High School had one case. All of those affected were students. The entire school system had 14 active cases among students as of Friday and six among staff, spread across 10 campuses. There were no active cases at 29 campuses.
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. The hybrid attendance model becomes another tool to use as needed to navigate instruction during the pandemic, officials said.