SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) will reopen under a new hybrid learning plan starting next week and there’s a chance that some schools could increase in-person learning days in the near future.
Last month, Savannah Chatham County schools closed their doors to students due to rising COVID-19 rates in the county. Now, weeks later the board has decided to reopen schools. Some board members agree and some still don’t think it’s safe.
District 1 Board Member Denise Grabowski was among the seven board members who voted yes to reopen schools for in-person learning. She believes virtual learning has been a struggle for many students.
“We have this spectrum of opinions of what people want and I think what people want is important, but the most critical thing that I think about when making a decision is what is best for our students,” Grabowski told News 3.
A recent survey done by parents showed a third of families want to keep their students at home. Grabowski believes that will free up space in schools to allow students learning in-person to possibly go more than three days a week.
“It’s going to vary from school to school and so some schools may have the ability to accommodate students more than three days a week in-person and some schools may not, but I think it’s important that we allow that flexibility,” Grabowski said.
School officials will look at the enrollment ratios of students who choose in-person learning to see if they have enough space for social distancing to allow schools to open more than three days a week.
District 6 Board Member Dr. David Bringman believes schools are being reopened at the wrong time.
He told News 3 that the community COVID-19 transmission rates are still too high.
“We’ve come this far and waited this long to try to keep our students, staff, and faculty safe. So part of it seems like we’re just throwing our hands in the air at the last minute and saying oh, nevermind let’s just reopen,” Bringman said.
He’s also concerned this will be another added layer of responsibility for teachers. That’s why he voted no.
“On top of just teaching now, they have to make sure their students stay apart from each other, that their students keep their masks on, and that their students wash their hands all the time. We ask teachers over, over and over again to do things besides teaching,” Bringman said.
The least independent learners will head back to the classroom on Wednesday, Feb. 17 and the rest of the students will return the following week.