HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — It's the last day of school for Bibb and Houston County students, and staff members can celebrate the end of a school year unlike any other.
Educators are now reflecting on their experience teaching students during a pandemic.
Northside Elementary teacher Crystal Tucker says it took some work to figure out what would lead them to success.
“So they never wrote a book on what to do in the midst of a pandemic, so we've really navigated throughout this and learned what really worked and what didn't work,” she said.
Houston County delayed its start date by two days on August 6. They were one of the biggest Central Georgia districts to start off the school year with both an in-person and virtual option.
“There was no words [to describe] how we felt when we saw our students. We know research shows that our students need to be back face-to-face, but I'm glad that our county gave the families options to be virtual,” said Tucker.
Superintendent Mark Scott says if he had to decide over again, he would do it the same.
“Really felt like bringing the students back would give them an opportunity to have a structured environment where somebody can help to make them understand or help them to understand the pandemic and how to keep themselves safe,” said Scott.
At no point did the district have to shut down during the school year.
“We're lucky enough not to have to shutdown throughout the school. We did have quarantines throughout the school, but we handled those with pride and we were very proud of how our county handled this,” said Tucker.
With their safety guidelines in place and the vaccine rollout through the year, more students chose in-person learning after winter break.
Scott says once they got to spring testing this year, he felt they could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We realized that we had kind of made it to that threshold, and really we won't breathe a sigh of relief until the last day is over and we've gotten all of our students graduated,” he said.
Houston County will have a summer school program for students in grades 1-12 who fell behind, and for students looking for summer activities.
Houston County's graduations are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. It's also Bibb County's last day of school, and they're holding graduations Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.