SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah Chatham County school board is making plans to return students to in-person learning five days a week this fall. Since February, students have only been allowed in the classroom at most three days a week.
Many parents and students have been asking for a return to normal for months now. News 3 spoke with families whose students attend Savannah Arts Academy and they say it’s about time the doors are reopened to students five days a week.
Savannah Arts student Norah Hamilton says she’s excited to be able to see her friends again. After a tough year she’s ready to get back to in-person learning for her senior year.
“It’s nice to have somebody to ask questions about what’s going on and stuff like that and make friends, but I wasn’t able to do that this year,” Hamilton said.
At Wednesday’s school board meeting Superintendent, Dr. Ann Levett announced with cautious optimism that the goal is to return students to in-person learning five days a week this fall.
“We feel very hopeful but we also want to make sure that you know that August 4th that’s what we’re planning for,” Levett said.
Safety protocols will remain in place and the plan is to phase in all 36,000 students. There was debate between board members over when a final date will be set to notify parents that students can return full-time. Dr. Levett said it all depends on the community COVID transmission rates. Other board members agree.
“I can guarantee a lot of things and put it in a box but it still could just be crap inside of a box. So, a guaranteed date doesn’t help us any,” District 6 Board Member Dr. David Bringman said.
Ela Gavrilas has been demanding a full-time return for months now. Her twins attend Savannah Arts Academy and they’ve decided to stay home.
“My daughter, I’ve never seen her this way to be honest. She started bawling crying telling us that she’s stupid, she’s getting behind, that she will never be able to get to the level of where she used to be at,” Gavrilas said.
Gavrilas believes the plan to return in-person full-time needs to be clear.
“It needs to be a plan where we’re telling parents and kids we are starting five days a week and if you don’t want to do that then we have other options for you,” she said.
The reopening task force will continue to look at plans on how to safely reopen schools five days a week. There is still no set date when parents will be notified to make plans.
SCCPSS also announced graduation plans during their board meeting. Students will get in-person ceremonies this year. Each school will set up a curbside pick-up for caps and gowns. Graduates can only invite three guests. Masks must be worn at the event the entire time. All ceremonies will take place at T.A. Wright Stadium on Savannah State University’s campus.