BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Given the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, Union County Board of Education moved to heighten virus precautions in the classroom with a mask mandate.
Students returned to class today, January 5, from winter break. Previously, the school encouraged masks but didn’t require face coverings for students. Now all students and teachers must wear a mask except for eating or drinking. Children with medical excuses will receive appropriate accommodations, such as a face shield.
Students exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days, and those not following the COVID-19 protocols will be sent home. The school enhanced social distancing and meal mitigations when possible.
Additionally, the nine-week requirement for online learning was suspended until case numbers go back down. If a parent or guardian doesn’t feel comfortable sending their child to school, they can participate in online learning until a parent deems it safe. Parents and guardians against the mask policy were asked to keep their child at home until the old policies are reinstated.
The board decided to cancel athletic events for the week of January 4 to 9. Practices will still take place. Each week the athletic department will decide the game schedule and cancellations. Once games resume, attendance will be limited with a mask requirement in place for fans. The school’s looking into livestreaming events.
Board members agreed that face-to-face instruction must continue until it’s no longer feasible for the system. The current UCS update placed 30 staff in quarantine or positive for COVID-19. If the situation doesn’t improve, the district could move to online-only learning.
Newest board member and Union General Hospital Chief Nursing Officer stated that she views schools as a controlled environment. By keeping children in schools, it’s easier to manage their environments and contact trace.
Several schools districts in the Pioneer RESA opted to go online only for the foreseeable future, including Rabun, Banks, Gainesville, Hall Hart, Lumpkin, Madison, and White. Pickens County announced its decision to close for another week yesterday.
Union County discussed canceling games with schools that were online only but allowing athletic activities, citing that if the district is too sick to attend in-person classes, then should they be traveling to play sports.
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Union County Schools (UCS) released coronavirus, COVID-19 numbers on Friday, August 14. Currently, two students and four staff members have positive cases.
27 students and 17 staff members are currently under quarantine for possible exposure.
Students and faculty return to in-person instruction on August 17, and the students and faculty under quarantine or with positive cases won’t be in attendance. According to school policy, only those who test negative for COVID-19 can attend in-person class.
According to the school’s policy, anyone who tests positive can’t return for “at least 10 days following the onset of COVID-19 symptoms or receiving a positive test result AND be fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication AND have an improvement in respiratory symptoms.”
Quarantined individuals must stay home for at least 14 days even if symptom-free. If they develop symptoms, the quarantine may be extended from symptoms onset. Also, students with a confirmed diagnosis in the home will be quarantined an additional 14-days from when the family’s quarantine time ends.
If hospitalized or severely immunocompromised from the virus, students must stay home “at least 20 days since symptoms first appeared AND be fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications AND have an improvement in respiratory symptoms.”
While quarantining from home, students can participate in the online learning program.
UCS will be providing a weekly COVID-19 update concerning positive cases and possible exposures. These updates aren’t meant to alarm but provide public information.
Face masks are highly recommended for all students and will be available to students and faculty on campus. Students will be required to wear face masks during class changes, school nurse visits, and safety drills.
Each week the school buildings will be deep-cleaned over a three day period.
To review UCS’s reopening plan, follow the link, here.
As for closure, UCS is following Georgia’s Department of Education (GaDOE) District Decision Tree.
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Union County Schools (UCS) was one of three districts in the state to receive the College and Career Academy (CCA) grant for $3 million. The school will establish the first multi-state CCA in Georgia.
UCS has several similar program initiatives with its Career, technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) efforts, but the grant money will allow them to expand their offerings. Students will also have opportunities for dual enrollment through some of the CTAE programs.
CTAE Director Josh Davis explained why UCS decided to apply, “After researching the grant process last summer and discussing with our stakeholders, we realized we already had many of the CCA best practices in place. We decided to write the grant and go through the grant process, and all of our business, community, and post-secondary partners played a big role.”
It’s a reimbursable facility grant, and the school will move forward with the College and Career Academy with the board of education’s guidance. The grant was appropriated through the Georgia legislature and gives a school system five years to spend the allotted funds. The first year will focus on planning and strategy to identify the best path forward.
As for the area of focus, Davis added, “Initially, we will utilize our current program offerings including automotive technologies, computer programming, construction, cybersecurity, engineering, entrepreneurship, nursing, sports medicine, and welding. We will develop new programs if needed as local workforce needs change and resources are available.”
The skilled training provided by a CCA allows students to seek out specific high demand, high wage jobs available within the region, which will enhance their employment opportunities. It’s a win-win for students and regional employers.
“We’ve had wonderful support from our business community. They’re hungry for employees,” explained Superintendent John Hill. “They’re a lot of employers that need employees in their high skilled, high wage jobs…Now some go to college, but a bulk goes to technical school and receives some really good training, and a lot of it, we can do in-house here.”
Current Union County business partners include Advanced Digital Cable, Bank OZK, Chick-fil-A, Corrugated Replacements Inc., Lamin-X, Nelson Tractor, Panel Built, Pat’s Hallmark, The Saw Mill Place, Union General Hospital, Union County Chamber of Commerce, Union County Economic Development Authority, United Community Bank Inc., and WJRB Radio. Community partners from neighboring counties and North Carolina include Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, Brasstown Valley Resort, Moog Industries Inc, and Snap-On. North Georgia Technical College, the University of North Georgia, and Young Harris College are the post-secondary education partners.
Technical College System of Georgia Project Manager Frank Pinson called into the July Board of Education meeting to congratulate UCS and expressed his enthusiasm for the school’s initial idea.
“You’re going to establish Georgia’s first multi-district model that extends across state lines…we had the privilege way back in March of coming up and visiting with them. John and Josh took us over to neighboring counties that you’ll be partnering with. We just couldn’t be more excited about Union County and everything that you’re going to be able to accomplish up there,” Pinson expressed.
“We’re equally excited about this. I can’t wait. Once we get this going, you’ll be able to take a tour of our facilities again and see what we’ve done with the good taxpayer monies that we’ve been able to secure from you guys,” said Chairman Tony Hunter.
Evans and Appling County were the other two school systems to receive the CCA grant.
Feature image from Georgia Career Academies Facebook.
A new trend is sweeping the youth of the nation and unfortunately Fannin County is not immune to this growing problem.
Thursday afternoon, September 6, Dr. Gwatney sent out a letter explaining a recent event at Fannin County High School. It’s been reported that students are smoking and inhaling electronic cigarettes.
District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee contacted Dr. Gwatney sharing that several students from other counties have needed medical treatment after using these electronic cigarettes. Unfortunately, an incident has happened like this here in our own county.
It’s been discovered that a substance known as, “Kronic” is being sold locally and the students are getting ahold of it; this has resulted in students needing medical attention and have been escorted to the hospital.
Currently, Fannin County High School staff and faculty are doing everything they can to talk to our students about their decisions to vape and using electronic cigarettes. Our students also need to be aware and mindful of what substances they are putting into their electronic cigarettes and/ or vapes.
Parents and guardians should be aware and look out for these items. Electronic cigarettes, vapes, etc. can look like USB flash drives, lighters, pens, and other common items. Please ask and talk to your students about what they know—and may not know—about vaping and electronic cigarettes. Let’s take this time as a community to take care of our kids.
The school district has been kind enough to post various pictures of devices to watch for on Facebook page (Fannin County School System). For more information on vaping, you may refer to the CDC website at the following website: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm
Gainesville Students to Attend Air Force and Naval Academies
GAINESVILLE, Ga.—Two students from northeast Georgia have been offered admission to a U.S. military academy. Cameron Sturdivant will join the class of 2022 at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Chase Nufer will attend the U.S. Naval Academy.
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) nominated these students to the military academies because of their integrity and track record of accomplishment in the community.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Cameron and Chase, who have dedicated themselves to servant leadership roles early in life. I look forward to their success in Colorado Springs and Annapolis as they reflect the strong character of northeast Georgia,” said Collins.
Sturdivant is the son of Ms. Chere Rucker. He attends Gainesville High School and is following in the footsteps of his brother, Mr. Donovan Moss, who is currently a senior at the Air Force Academy.
Nufer, son of Mr. Peter & Ms. Heidi Nufer, is the captain of the baseball team at Forsyth Central High School and a member of the National Honor Society.
Dalton, Ga. – The Dalton Police Department is on scene at Dalton High School where shots have been fired.
Dalton Police report that no student was injured by the shooting and all students are out of harm’s way. They also report the subject, a teacher, has been taken into custody.
The subject had barricaded themselves into a classroom earlier today before firing a weapon. Local Police and Georgia State Patrol responded to the initial call. Those reports have come about a student injured during the evacuation, the Dalton Police were adamant that no student was injured by the shooting.
Police are also asking parents to NOT go to Dalton High School as they say, “The area inside the school has been evacuated and there are no students believed to be in the school at this time.”
The evacuated students have been taken to the Northwest Georgia Trade Center where police report parents should go for their children.
WASHINGTON—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) nominated Loretta Strickland and Michael Herrington for admission to U.S. military academies and is celebrating good news for both northeast Georgia students. Herrington will join the class of 2022 at the United States Naval Academy, and Strickland will attend the United States Naval Academy Preparatory School.
“It’s an honor to see the Naval Academy recognize the investments Loretta and Michael have made in their communities. As these impressive students travel north to serve our country, I look forward to hearing of their continued success,” said Collins.
The senior class president at Flowery Branch High School, Herrington is the son of Mr. Mike and Mrs. Vickie Herrington. Herrington is a member of the National Honor Society and cross-country team and has received the Air Force Association Outstanding Cadet award.
Strickland is the daughter of retired police officer Greg Strickland and is the first student from Fannin County High School to receive an appointment to a U.S. military school. She competes in track and cross-country events and is part of the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.
According to information received earlier tonight, October 7th 2016, bond has been set for Daniel Culbreth in the amount of $25,000. Culbreth is currently trying to make bond as of 10pm Friday night according to Pickens County Sheriff’s office. Bond Conditions are as follows: (See Below)
Mr. Daniel Culbreth, a math teacher at Pickens High School, was arrested on Thursday night (October 6, 2016) for Computer Exploitation of Children and Sexual Assault by Persons with Supervisory Authority. Culbreth, also a PCHS running back coach was arrested for DUI of alcohol in 2015. (see arrest/booking report below).
The arrest came during an investigation into inappropriate communications with a student. Led by Detective Steven Holmes of the Pickens Sheriff’s Office, who also serves as an agent for the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, detectives began following up on a tip that Mr. Culbreth had been using the popular teen social media app Snapchat to communicate with female students.
According to the information received by detectives, the content of some of his communication was highly inappropriate. After receiving and verifying this information, Pickens Sheriff’s Office Detectives executed a search warrant on Mr. Culbreth’s Snapchat account and found this information to be true.