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Baldwin County delays first day of school to Aug. 19

Superintendent Noris Price says they need more time for families to make decisions on instruction options

BALDWIN COUNTY, Ga. — Baldwin County Schools Superintendent Noris Price, along with district leaders nationwide, is navigating through uncharted waters with back to school plans during a pandemic.

"There's not a course that I've taken. There's not a book that I've read. There's not an article that I've read. There's not a workshop that I've attended that has prepared me to deal with a pandemic in trying to continue to educate our children," Price said.

She's covered everything from adjusting the school calendar to offering better technology resources and internet access for remote learning.

"On Tuesday, we had a called board meeting, and I requested and recommended to the board to delay the start of the school year until August 19 to give us more time. Not only to reach our families, but also to provide additional training for our teachers," Price said.

They're offering remote and in-person options for students, but only 40% of families submitted their preferred choice. 

Price needs everyone to respond to move forward with preparations.

"We're trying to put in six feet of social distancing with the desks in the classrooms, and that means that we can only accommodate 15 students. If we go to 5-feet it goes up to around 18, so that means that we have a threshold of students that we can accommodate," Price said.

They applied for grants and used state funds to purchase technology for better internet access for their remote learners.

"We've received some mobile hotspots that can use to put on our buses and we've also decided to purchase WiFi antennas that we can put outside of our buildings so parents can drive up and access the internet. We also leased individual hotspots from Verizon that students will be able to check out," Price said.

Price says they have enough devices to give one to every student in grades K-12. They have an order of 300 coming in, and more next week.

They've also adjusted their meal plan around the new start date.

Parents can sign up to pick up meals at their child's school. The district is giving out enough food for five days starting August 5.

Teachers are calling parents to walk them through completing the forms for their preferred learning option online.

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