Pickens Turns to Distance Learning vs Returning After Holidays

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Pickens County Schools move to distance learning due to COVID-19 spike

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COVID-19 spike distance learning

Pickens County Schools Systems released the following information today:

Due to increased health concerns and a rapid spike in COVID-19 cases in our community, The Pickens County School District will be implementing distance learning for the next three days 12/16/20-12/18/20. Distance learning assignments will be posted on its learning platform and devices will be sent home with students. If your child does not bring home their device, please contact your child’s teacher or the school office to make arrangements to pick up the device.

On Wednesday, December 16, 2020, inclement weather is expected in our area. All of the staff should report at 10:00 a.m. Staff will also be reporting to their work locations the remainder of the week and should adhere to safety protocols already in place regarding masks and social distancing.

Meals will be available curbside at all schools tomorrow, Wednesday 12/16/20 from 11:00 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. More information will be shared tomorrow regarding meals on Thursday.

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An adjustment has been made in the return date for students following Christmas break. Students will return to school on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, due to the fact that many of our schools serve as voting precincts. Monday and Tuesday (1/4/21 and 1/5/21) will be teacher workdays for staff.

We appreciate the support as we continually work to keep up our students and staff safe. Updated information will be provided on the Pickens County School District website, the Infinite Campus parent portal, our district website, social media website, and sent to local media.

BOE updates Distance Learning and Calendar Survey

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JASPER, Ga. – With focused consideration for students “not on track” in classwork, the Pickens County Board of Education heard an update on Distance Learning from Curriculum Director Anita Walker.

Pickens is returning as many students as possible to in-person learning rather than virtual learning. Walker noted that they have had students “not-on-track” returning to in-person for multiple reasons varying from a dislike or disconnection with the Pearson program, including some technical issues the school overcame in the first part of the semester, to issue with difficulty of use and focus to scheduling conflicts with younger children who need parental help with the programs while the parents might be working full-time.

While the schools have some experiencing difficulties, many others are succeeding and progressing in the virtual learning. More success was seen in lower grades, Kindergarten to 4th Grade.

Walker did note, however, that she felt that in-person is usually going to provide better educational experiences for the majority of students.

During her presentation, Walker pointed out some details that may be contributing to those not on track with the program including time spent with the program. She broke down data specifically focused on those in that category based on grade levels and compared them to the number of students spending more or less that 30 hours a week on the program.

Touching on support for the program and changes to bolster their efforts to support students and families choosing virtual learning, Walker noted the teachers efforts such as a tutoring program that virtual and in-person students can take advantage of. They are also putting extensions on some class work to aid in students needing that.

On the other side, with about 60 students moving from in-person to virtual learning for various reasons, Walker said the school encouraged students and families to come in a go over the program so that they would no and understand all of the requirements and needs involved with the program before fully committing to virtual learning.

Distance learning was not the only discussion for the day, however, as the board looked closer at results from a survey over the school calendar for 2021-2022.

Learning, Calendar, EducationNearing the mid-point of the school year, early discussion is already coming in for the next school year as Pickens County is going through the lengthy process of adopting a school year calendar.

According to Superintendent Dr. Rick Townsend, a survey was taken with input from students, parents, employees, and residents/business owners.

Of the 1209 replies to the survey, the boards report indicated that 500 were parents, 298 employees, 60 students, and 39 residents/business owners.

The vast majority emphasized a great importance on Thanksgiving and Christmas and not changing those breaks.

Additionally, 70% of the response said they would prefer a digital learning day for snow days or inclement weather rather than making those days up during winter break.

Many comments supported moving back the start date of school into mid to late August, but the board was told that hey would have to do away with several breaks to incorporate that change.

While the recommendation is set to be the same calendar as previously recommended, the board will be voting on the calendar next Thursday, December 10, 2020.

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