Gwinnett County Public Schools announced Wednesday it would transition all in-person students back to digital instruction starting next Tuesday.
The move is being made as COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly through the state of Georgia. The state set new records for cases in a single day and deaths in a single day in the last two weeks.
“As students returned to in-person and digital instruction this semester, we acknowledged the need to monitor the impact the rising COVID numbers within our community might have on our schools. The reality is that our school system—like our community and the state— is feeling the results of the holidays and winter break. We are experiencing higher numbers of cases, suspected cases, and close contacts among our in-person students and staff. The move to 100% digital learning for the coming week will allow us to effectively serve students while also doing what is best for our students and staff given the current situation," Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said Wednesday.
Wilbanks said one of the issues facing the district is effectively staffing schools with COVID-19 rampaging through the state. Tuesday, GCPS had 125 new reports involving employees who tested positive, were suspected of having COVID and were being tested, or had been identified as close contacts. These new cases brought the district’s total number of staff out of school or work to 785, with 460 of those being teachers.
GCPS said the shift to digital learning, plus a holiday next week, will give those infected time to return to work. Students must still complete all assignments each day and attendance will also be kept during the digital learning phase.
The school system said it would provide an update at a later date about returning to in-person learning, possibly as soon as January 25.