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All DCSS Schools to Restart Virtually in January

Online Learning ALBANY-  Students will not return to in-person instruction on January 11 as initially planned, due to alarming increases COVID-19 numbers in the Dougherty County community, Superintendent Kenneth Dyer announced Monday. 

After meeting virtually with leaders Monday morning, Dyer informed the Dougherty County Board of Education and district employees along with students and parents that the data simply did not support a return to in-person instruction at this time.

In his letter to parents, Dyer outlined his rationale for the decision.

“When we recessed for the holiday break, we had hoped and planned that both the average number of daily COVID-19 cases and the case positivity rate would stabilize following an increase after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, that has proven not to be the case,” Dyer wrote.  

“Instead, the average daily number of cases is up and both the COVID-19 positivity rate and the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are at levels that we haven’t seen since July. Additionally, we expect those numbers to continue to increase following the Christmas and New Year holidays.”

Based on the district’s Responsible Restart plan, which has been guiding the district’s response to the pandemic since August, all grade bands will begin virtual instruction on January 11. This district-wide return to virtual instruction will continue through the month of January. District officials will continue to monitor key metrics daily and will make an announcement regarding a February 1 return to in-person instruction no later than January 25. 

While the decision to pivot to a virtual-only instructional model again was solely that of the district, the decision wasn’t made in a vacuum. District officials have been working closely with representatives of the Georgia Department of Public Health, Phoebe Putney Health System and the city and county governments to monitor the spread of the virus through the community since the pandemic started. With hospital capacity throughout the region quickly diminishing, Dyer said he believes now is a critical time to act.

“I understand the burden that this places on households and businesses across the county. Because of that, this decision is not made lightly.  I said at the beginning of the pandemic, however our decisions would be grounded in the data and all actions taken by the district would be conditions-based. As numbers climb to alarming levels, we must continue to keep the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff as our primary concern.” Dyer wrote in his letter to students, parents and stakeholders. 

“The coming days and weeks are critical. Please avoid large gatherings, socially distance yourselves if you must go out, and please wear a mask. I firmly believe that we have a collective responsibility as a community to do whatever we can, whenever we can to slow the spread of this virus.“