Schools to Open under "Yellow" Designation

August 4, 2020 

Good afternoon Blue Devils,

Since March, educators have been consumed with the evolution of education around the country. I can't even begin to explain how much time we've spent creating and reworking plans to provide for a safe 20-21 school year here in Tift County. Our administrators, teachers, and staff have worked unbelievably well together from the very beginning of this pandemic to continue pushing forward. A vast majority of that time is spent reviewing data collected and provided by the Department of Health, our local hospital, and a variety of doctors around our area. Tift County Schools understands the importance of getting back to work and engaging students in our learning culture. I am glad to say that our most recent efforts as a community seem to be making an impact. The latest data provided to me yesterday shows that we, Tift County, are in a three week declining trend of Covid positive cases. We are also showing a 20% decline in testing meaning fewer people are even requesting a Covid Test. We are also showing less than a 10% positivity in testing which means fewer than 10% of those being tested are coming back positive. These trends certainly make us optimistic about returning to school. With that said, our hospitalization data remains high and Tift Regional’s ICU has been full and on diversion for some time now. This data piece along with our desire to keep our students, faculty, and their families safe and healthy have led to our decision to move a little slower in our opening efforts. We want students back in school, but we don't want to undo the great efforts made by our community to slow the spread of Covid.

At this time, we feel it's in the best interest of everyone to open the school year under a yellow designation. We know this decision is a shift that will take some time to prepare for, and that's why we wanted to give everyone as much time as possible to plan for Friday being an online introduction and the blue and white rotations that will begin next week. Please tell your students to check their Tift County email throughout the week for communication from their teachers. Parents and students will be able to see their blue or white rotation designation in the Infinite Campus parent or student portal by the end of the day. You will also be receiving another call out later this evening notifying you of your child’s designation.

There aren't many easy decisions to be made these days, and this is certainly a difficult one. I want to reassure everyone that the health and safety of our students and staff are at the forefront of our problem solving process. We need to be back in school, and this decision gives us the ability to do that while also giving us an even better opportunity to provide room for social distancing. We don't want the progress our community has made to be undone. It is our intention to spend the first 2 weeks in Yellow and hopefully move to green by the end of August provided the data continues to show the same trends regarding the virus and our hospital ICU situation is under control.

I know this decision will affect each family differently. We will continue to offer patience and grace as we work through this scenario and would ask for you to extend the same to us as we figure out how to deliver learning in this new normal. While the situation has changed, our mission remains the same. We will continue to be focused on building our learning culture and providing the best opportunities we can for our students. Thank you for your support and understanding during this time. #4theT

Adam Hathaway