PAGE recommends school districts delay in-person school openings until at least mid-August and use a phased approach to return educators and students to the classroom, including virtual only instruction in communities with substantial spread of COVID-19. This recommendation reflects feedback that more than 16,000 PAGE members shared through a survey and conversations with PAGE staff, and responds to the current spike in the spread of the virus. A later and gradual start to the school year benefits all stakeholders in multiple ways, including more opportunity for:
- Potential for current increase in COVID-19 cases to subside both locally and across Georgia.
- Additional time to consider whether local conditions allow for safe opening of schools and for critical safety planning, communication, and training on safety plans and instructional models.
- Additional time for educators without high-risk conditions to return to the school environment, become familiar with, and practice the guidelines in safety plans.
- Devote time to professional learning on instructional methods and lesson design in preparation for the likelihood of further virtual instruction throughout the year due to closures.
- Ensure parents and students are fully familiar with district instructional models and expectations for adherence to safety protocols for in-person instruction.
“After surveying its members and discussing the state situation, PAGE released its own recommendations…In a statement, PAGE said, ‘Following these recommendations offers multiple benefits including time for the increase in COVID-19 cases to subside, and for determining the appropriate school opening strategy. A delayed opening also provides more time for safety planning, robust communication with educators, and training on safety and instructional plans.’”
“They don’t currently feel that their district plans appropriately respond to the risk,” (PAGE Legislative Director Margaret) Ciccarelli said. Among those who identified themselves as high risk for complications of infection, 67% felt their district’s plan was inadequate.”