SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah-Chatham County School Board voted Wednesday to approve the third phase of the hybrid learning plan.
This comes after some students and teachers in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) moved into phase 2 of the reopening process on Monday.
Phase 3 will begin on Monday, Oct. 26, giving all students and teachers the option of whether to return to the classroom or continue virtual learning.
Originally, this date depended on Chatham County’s COVID-19 transmission rate, which reflects the number of new cases in the last two weeks per 100,000 residents.
The goal is to see the county in a low-to-moderate transmission level, but based on data from the Coastal Health District, Chatham isn’t there just yet.
“The numbers are going down. I know it’s not in the yellow. We’ve also been kind of going back and forth with the daily average and the CTI,” Board member Michael Johnson said. “I know that when we passed this we were talking about CTI. To me the daily numbers there’s a good chance that they’re going to be in the yellow next week.”
As of Monday, Oct. 5, the daily COVID-19 case rate in Chatham County is currently at 11 daily new cases per 100,000 county residents. The board planned to wait to enter phase 3 until the daily new cases were below 10.
“I can’t support it currently because I’d like to see hybrid phase 2 data for a little while longer than just two days. We’ve only stuck our big toe in the water,” Board member Dr. David Bringman said.
The board heard from several parents who say they’d rather see the decision reversed.
“There is no doubt, that by opening the doors to the school buildings, people will get sick and some will die, and it is only a matter of time that happens to someone under Dr. Levett’s charge,” said Kristy Edenfield, a concerned citizen. “And I can’t imagine the amount of pain that she will feel when it happens.”
Some parents disagree and want to see their children back in school.
“It’s getting ridiculous. It’s time that these kids be back in school where they can be monitored, where they can receive an education, or we’re going to have generations that are lost at this point,” SCCPSS parent Miki Skelton said.
School leaders say now that students will have a choice parents could expect a high volume of student waitlists if the availability of in-person teaching staff continues to be a challenge.
Board members also voted unanimously to ask Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett to consider a financial incentive for all school district staff members who return to work. News 3 will keep you updated as we learn more.