Checking out

Ashley Ruis signs out equipment for her 11-year-old daughter Amalie, a fifth grader, at Walnut Grove Elementary School, Monday morning, March 16, 2020, in Covington, Ga.

Walton County students are home for at least the next two weeks, but class remains in session as schools across the county transition to distance learning method to continue education for the duration of the coronavirus self-quarantine.

“As we prepare to transition to a learning-from-home approach, we would like to follow up with some additional information,” the Walton County School District said in a statement on its digital learning update webpage, created in the wake of Thursday’s decision to close schools. “We appreciate your cooperation as we try to navigate these uncharted waters. Please know that the decision to close our schools was not made lightly and we are doing everything we can to make this transition as seamless as possible.”

WCSD opened school doors Monday and Tuesday to allow parents to come and check out the Chromebooks students use in the classroom to allow them a way to complete digital assignments during the unexpected break. Parents poured into schools in a slow but steady stream to collect the devices and other school resources.

The schools also issued paperwork including online resources for student engagement and education, including textbook company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and children’s publisher Scholastic, a reading log for children to keep updated and local resources for outside help, such as Faith In Serving Humanity, Shepherd’s Staff and the Walton County Health Department.

Walton County is using Schoology for middle and high school students, while elementary students are receiving online updates for other lessons.

“There will be several lesson options for students to select,” the system informed parents. “Most elementary school students will be able to complete lessons within 30 minutes. We encourage students to complete one lesson per subject each day.”

Walton students are not the only ones using distance learning to keep up with education — which allows the systems to count the days as school days and not have to make them up later.

Social Circle students are also receiving digital and worksheet lessons from teachers during the break to continue education, while the county’s two private schools, which have almost a 1:1 ratio of digital devices to students, are also using digital technology to keep students on track with their lessons.

“Students will engage in remote learning experiences that will be a mix of print and online tasks in lieu of face-to-face instruction while the school district is closed,” the SCCS district stated on its own website.

“Non-digital assignments will be provided to students who have limited access to technology. These non-digital assignments may be communicated by phone, email, or website.”

Schools are currently scheduled to return on April 1, following Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order closing all schools through March 31, in time for students to enjoy spring break beginning April 6, but school officials said further evaluation will be applied to ensure schools do not open until it is safe to do so.

“While there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Walton County, the district decided to close school facilities for up to two weeks to help in the statewide effort of slowing down the spread of the virus at the recommendation of Gov. Brian Kemp,” the WCSD statement reads.

“We will be reevaluating the situation on Thursday, March 19, and communicating if there are any changes at that time.”

News Editor

Stephen Milligan is the news editor of The Walton Tribune. He lives in Monroe and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.

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