SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) headed back to class Wednesday, but this year’s first day was like no other.
Though many districts in the Coastal Empire have started under a hybrid model, and others have opted for a traditional model, SCCPSS students will be learning online at least through Labor Day due to the local threat of COVID-19.
“I want you to know that we are not expecting perfection. What we’re going to do is do the very best we can today to make things happen,” said Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett in a video message to students.
“I know that we’re all anxious and eager about today but I’ll tell you what, this is a historic moment and you all are prepared for it,” she added.
“Overall, I think we do get an A for effort and I think a B overall,” SCCPSS Director of Communications Stacy Jennings said of the first day of school.
Students and teachers are using the itsLearning online platform for live sessions, schedules, lesson plans and chats.
Jennings said there were some issues with logging on Wednesday morning after about five or six schools had their passwords reset earlier this week.
If a student has a technology problem, she says the first line of defense is their teacher. But the school district has also provided a troubleshooting support page to help parents or students walk through issues with itsLearning.
The district has purchased more than 14,000 Chromebooks this year to add to its supply and provide better access to the virtual learning platform.
But for those without internet access, other options are being provided.
SCCPSS is offering what they call Refueling Stations. There, students receive a flash drive with their assignment to be completed on their Chromebook and returned to the station for submission.
Paper-based learning packets are also being made available for those who can’t participate in the Refueling Station process.
Smart buses will also be out in the community, but News 3 is told it will be at least another week before that happens.
SCCPSS has put these measures into place due to COVID-19, but the virus has already hit close to home. The A.E. Beach High School football team is quarantining for 14 days after one player tested positive.
Just two days prior, school officials announced teams would be limited to intradistrict play for the fall season, and the start date would be delayed.
“This will allow additional time to assess all public health conditions and ensure clarity of protocols with staff and stakeholders regarding participation of competitions,” SCCPSS Athletic Director John Sanders said.
Levett has said that virtual instruction could continue beyond Labor Day but that ultimately, the goal is to be face-to-face.
When the time comes to return for in-person instruction, Levett said SCCPSS will use a phased approach. Students with critical needs and early learners would be the first to go back.
SCCPSS has continued to provide some sense of normalcy for students, for example, hosting transition events to celebrate students making the big jump to middle or high school.
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