Many students are back inside the physical classroom this week.

McDuffie County public schools began in-person learning on Sept. 8 for students that chose face-to-face instruction. A blended model with a staggered schedule has been implemented. The school system announced re-opening in-person learning on its website last week. School officials stated the decisions they’ve made for virtual and in-class instructional models are based on public health data and guidance from the CDC and the Georgia Departments of Public Health and Education.  

“As of Aug. 31, McDuffie County is considered to have moderate spread: 517 cases with 78 cases confirmed in the last two weeks,” according to the school district’s online news release. “Coupled with the Learn from Home model, the blended schedule will ensure the ability for proper social distancing and to reduce the population in classrooms, in hallways, and in common areas. The system intends to continue the blended model for face-to-face students until Oct. 5.

However, the district will continue to monitor public health data and reevaluate its instructional plans on Oct. 6.

“This decision was not made lightly and we recognize the potential inconvenience,” school officials stated in the online release. “However, it is our charge not only to educate our children but also to keep students and staff safe and healthy. We appreciate your support as we navigate this changing situation.”

Children that opted for the face-to-face model will attend class two days a week and participate in virtual learning three days a week. Students have been divided into two groups based on surname. Children with a surname beginning with A through J will attend physical classes Mondays and Tuesday. Students with last names starting with K through Z will attend in-person Wednesdays and Thursdays. All students will engage in at-home learning online on Fridays.

As a precaution against spreading the coronavirus, students, employees and visitors must wear face coverings inside school buildings and on buses, and on campus when social distancing is not possible.

Students who opted to learn from home will continue to participate in online learning Monday through Friday until Oct. 5.   

“Students registered for the Learn from Home model committed to a minimum of one nine weeks ending Oct. 5 for grades PreK through 8th and for one semester ending Dec. 16 for grades 9-12,” according to the system news release. “These pupils will continue to engage in virtual learning Monday-Friday until the conclusion of their commitment.”

Grades and attendance will be posted in the PowerSchool Parent Portal and tip sheets and videos for technology support are located on the Learn from Home page of the system website at www.mcduffie.k12.ga.us.  Each school has designated an individual to assist families with technology-related issues. These email addresses are also found on the Learn from Home page.

The school system established multiple Wi-Fi access points throughout the county for students. The Wi-Fi access points will be within system vehicles and parked in the following locations at the following times:

From 8:30-11:30 a.m.: Calvary Baptist Church on Luckey’s Bridge Road in Dearing; Rollingwood Apartments on Mendel Ave; and Thomson Villas on Forest Clary Drive Extension.

From 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.: Sweetwater Activity Center on Wire Road; and Rollingwood Apartments on Mendel Ave.

From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Union Baptist Church on Cedar Rock Road; Rollingwood Apartments on Mendel Ave; and the rear parking area of Happy Valley Store on Happy Valley Road.

Students can use personal devices or system-issued Chromebooks to connect to the system network at Wi-Fi access points, according to school officials. Directions on how to change the Wi-Fi settings on Chromebooks can be found on the Learn from Home link on the system webpage at www.mcduffie.k12.ga.us.

“Up to 60 devices located within 300 feet of the system vehicles may be served at once,” according to the district’s online new release. “Families should remain in their vehicles or homes at these locations to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Using devices connected to these Wi-Fi locations will enable students to watch teacher-directed videos, to submit assignments, to email teachers, and to reload flash drives by downloading materials from Google Classroom.”

Parents should also be aware that school meal delivery by school buses are now only being delivered to participating students on Fridays. Schools will serve meals to face-to-face students during normal breakfast and lunch hours Mondays through Thursdays.  However, all schools will serve as grab-and-go meal sites for pick-up by Learn from Home students.

Meal sites and pick-up times are as follows:

Dearing Elementary School front entrance

Breakfast:   7:45 – 8:15 a.m.

Lunch:  11:30 a.m. – noon

Maxwell Elementary School Cafeteria (rear of school)

Breakfast:  8:15 – 8:45 a.m.

Lunch:  11:30 a.m. – noon

Norris Elementary school bus ramp

Breakfast:  8:15 – 8:45 a.m.

Lunch:  11:30 a.m. – noon

Thomson Elementary School bus ramp

Breakfast:  8:15 – 8:45 a.m.

Lunch:  11:30 a.m. – noon

Thomson-McDuffie Middle School bus ramp

Breakfast:  8:00 – 8:30 a.m.

Lunch:  12:00 – 12:30 p.m.

Thomson High School bus ramp

Breakfast:  7:45 – 8:15 a.m.

Lunch:  11:30 a.m. – noon

The Return to School Plan is located on the system website at www.mcduffie.k12.ga.us.

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