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COVID-19 Updates (Updated 4.3.20)

COVID19

 

Important Links


FAQ for Parents:
Updated 4.1.20

Meal Service for All Students: Updated 3.24.20

Low Cost/Free Internet/District WiFi Options: Updated 3.26.20

Information for Special Education Students: Updated 3.24.20

Resources for Those Financially Impacted by COVID-19: Updated 4.3.20

Financial Options Through 403(b) Plans: Updated 4.3.20

 

 

Messages from Dr. Branch

Update on April 1, 2020


Dear Oconee County Schools Community,

Gov. Brian Kemp announced an Executive Order today that all public schools in Georgia are closed for in-person instruction through the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. We know it is difficult to process that Oconee County Schools will be closed for in-person instruction the rest of this school year. However, this statewide closing is crucial for public health and safety. 

Below are important updates as a result of this announcement.

Distance Learning
Distance learning will continue. Mondays-Thursdays will be for academic work and all Fridays will be FLEX Fridays. We will have more information regarding grading in the near future. In addition, there will be no Milestones, End-of-Course, End-of-Grade, or MAP testing.

Meal Service
OCS will continue providing meal service at this point. Meal Service will not be provided during Spring Break. Please visit oconeeschools.org/mealservice for details.

Proms and Graduation Ceremonies
If at all possible, our goal is to hold proms and graduation ceremonies at a later date. To the Class of 2020: we are thinking of you and know this is a difficult way to end your senior year. We are proud of the hard work and perseverance you have demonstrated.



This is a difficult time in our nation’s history and I urge each of you to continue to socially distance and help contain the spread of COVID-19. Each of us has the ability to make a positive impact in the interest of public health. As we look forward to Spring Break next week and a break from academic work, we hope you enjoy the time at home with your families. Take care and stay well.

Sincerely,


Jason L. Branch, Ph.D.
Superintendent




Update on March 27, 2020


Dear Oconee County Schools Community,

As we are now on the second Friday of this school closure, I hope that your week is winding down and you have found a routine that works well for your family. We miss seeing our students and teachers, and hope that if you have an elementary student that you enjoyed the parade today! 

Important updates are below:

MAP Testing
The Georgia Department of Education recently made the decision to suspend all statewide assessments including Milestones testing at this time. Oconee County Schools has also made the decision to suspend the Spring MAP assessment. 

FLEX Fridays
We are excited to announce that starting April 3, FLEX Fridays will begin. During the remainder of this school closure, students will be assigned academic work Mondays-Thursdays with Fridays being a flexible day. There will not be additional work assigned M-Th to accommodate for FLEX Friday. Here is more information on this flexible day:

  • Fun - This needs no explanation!

  • Leisure Learning - Parents and students will have additional opportunities to spend time in nature, go on a virtual field trip, or read...whatever interests you and your child.

  • Emotional Time and Connections - Each Friday, parents and students will receive a social-emotional activity via email. For example, next Friday, they will be provided with three questions about self-efficacy, goal setting, and perseverance that families can discuss together. There's nothing to report or turn in.

  • eXtra Learning and Support - Fridays can be used for catching up and making additional connections with teachers for any needed support.

Upcoming Assignments for Grades K-2
Parents of students in grades K-2 can pick up learning packets in school front offices on Tues., March 31 from 1-2:30 p.m. This will include assignments to be completed April 1-2 and April 13-16. Please note that K-2 parents can email their child’s teacher(s) to request digital packets instead of paper ones.

Upcoming Assignments in Grades 3-12
As we are 1:1 in grades 3-12, assignments will continue to be shared digitally. If parents need to request a paper packet due to internet connectivity issues, please email your child(s) teachers by Mon., March 30. Packets will be ready for pick-up in school front offices on Tues., March 31 from 1-2:30 p.m.

Chromebook Repairs
Parents can swap out their child’s Chromebook if repairs are needed on Tues., March 31 from 1-2:30 p.m. in school front offices. Please submit your repair request here by Mon., March 30.


On behalf of the Board of Education and myself, thank you to our teachers, parents, students, support staff, and administrators for their hard work, flexibility, and support. We hope all of you have a great weekend and enjoy this beautiful weather.

Sincerely,


Jason L. Branch, Ph.D.
Superintendent




Update on March 26, 2020


Dear Oconee County Schools Community,

Thank you for your continued support during this uncertain time. Our students and teachers remain connected and hard at work. We are also appreciative of our parents and teachers partnering to ensure that students’ learning continues.

This afternoon, Gov. Brian Kemp announced an Executive Order that school closures are extended through Fri., April 24. OCS plans to re-open Mon., April 27 with the understanding that we may receive local, state, or federal guidance that changes this date. We will continue utilizing a distance learning model during this closure. Your child’s school will be in contact to provide assignments to be completed during this period. 

Below are additional important updates:

Spring Break
Spring Break will be observed as planned from April 6-10. No work will be assigned during this week. Meal Service will not be provided during this break.

Testing
The Georgia Department of Education recently announced that they will seek a federal waiver regarding state testing and that Georgians can plan on no Milestones testing to occur this year. In addition, College Board (SAT) and ACT have announced cancelations and rescheduled dates. College Board has also announced that Advanced Placement (AP) testing will occur online rather than with traditional exams. For further information on testing updates, please visit oconeeschools.org/ParentFAQ

Meal Service
OCS will continue providing daily drive-up meal service from 12-1 p.m. at Oconee County Middle School. We are preparing meals at two sites so that our school nutrition staff members are socially distanced during meal prep. In addition, meal service will be provided on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:45 a.m. at four neighborhood drop-off sites. Please visit oconeeschools.org/mealservice for exact neighborhood locations. We are pleased to announce that we have served 4,900 meals since last Thursday.

Free WiFi
We recently opened up three exterior locations for WiFi access on district-provided devices. Each day from 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Rocky Branch Elementary School, Oconee County Middle School, and North Oconee High School’s parking lots will be open for students and teachers. All other campuses remain closed. The only exception is that OCMS will not be available from 12-1 p.m. Monday-Friday due to Meal Service being provided on site. For more information on free WiFi and other internet options, please visit oconeeschools.org/AlternativeInternet.

Future Updates

As additional guidance is provided at the local, state, and national levels, we will continue to provide updates. Please continue to visit oconeeschools.org/COVID19 for the most recent updates.

Thank you for practicing social distancing and keeping yourself and your family safe during this time. We miss all of our students and teachers and look forward to the day we welcome them back in our schools.

Sincerely,

Jason L. Branch, Ph.D.
Superintendent



 

Update on March 18, 2020


Dear Oconee County Schools Community,

Oconee County Schools is pleased to announce that we were granted a Georgia Department of Education waiver late Monday for our School Nutrition Department. The waiver enables OCS to directly provide meals to Oconee County families during this school closure. 

OCS appreciates the Oconee Area Resource Council (OARC) for their partnership in the interim and for providing the food during the Tuesday and Wednesday pick-up. We are also thankful for the OCS staff that distributed the food to our students and families. OARC will continue to provide resources to families in our area through their Food for Kids program, which will provide meals to families on the weekend.

Beginning tomorrow - Thurs., March 19 - OCS School Nutrition staff will be at Oconee County Middle School from 12-1 p.m. each weekday during the COVID-19 closure to provide meals at no cost to any student up to age 18 and special education students up to age 21. Students will be able to pick up lunch, as well as breakfast for the next morning. Please enter from the Hog Mountain Rd. entrance. beginning Thursday.

In addition, OCS school buses will be making deliveries to the following locations tomorrow - Thurs., March 19 - and each Monday and Wednesday thereafter at 9:45 a.m.:

  • Pebblestone (cul-de-sac)

  • Pinewood South

  • Bouldercrest

  • White Oak/Friendship

Bus deliveries on Monday will include food for Monday and Tuesday; deliveries on Wednesday will include food for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

We appreciate the continued support of our community, as well as the flexibility granted to our system by the Georgia Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The OCS School Nutrition staff looks forward to continuing to serve our families.

For the latest updates during this closure, please visit oconeeschools.org/COVID19

Sincerely,
 

Jason L. Branch, Ph.D.
Superintendent 


 

Update #2 March 16, 2020

Dear Oconee County Schools Community,

In accordance with newly issued federal guidance, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed Executive Order 3.16.20.01 closing all public elementary, secondary, and post-secondary public schools in Georgia from March 18, 2020 to March 31, 2020. Therefore, Oconee County Schools will be closed through March 31, 2020.

To read the full release, please click here

Sincerely,


Jason L. Branch, Ph.D.
Superintendent



Update #1 March 16, 2020


Dear Oconee County Schools Community,

 

We hope that your child has had a good start today as they began digital/distance learning. We have received a lot of positive feedback and want to commend our teachers, school leaders, and district leaders for rolling out strong instruction from Day 1 of this closure.

 

Today, we have two important updates:

 

  • In partnership with the Oconee Area Resource Council (OARC), Oconee County Schools announces that students will be able to pick up shelf stable food beginning tomorrow - Tues., March 17 - from 12-1 p.m. at Oconee County Middle School. Look for the school buses outside the school on the Mars Hill Rd. side. This service will be available this Tuesday-Friday with an update provided on Friday.
    • Food will be available for students up to 18 years of age, plus special education students up to 21 years of age.
    • In addition, families who are enrolled in OARC’s Summer Food for Kids program qualify to receive an additional box of food each week. For questions, please contact OARC.
    • OCS is providing cafeteria managers, counselors, and social workers to help facilitate this effort, in addition to helping provide food.
    • OARC needs your help! It costs $5/daily bag of food and $75/weekly box for families that need additional help. To donate, please click here.
  • Earlier today, State Superintendent Richard Woods provided guidance that the state testing window is suspended until further notice. That means that Milestones, End of Course, End of Grade, and any other state tests are suspended for the time being.

 

As we receive information, our Parent FAQ will continue to be updated. Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Jason L. Branch, Ph.D.
Superintendent


 

Update on March 13, 2020

Dear Oconee County Schools Community,

Thank you for your continued support as we work together in the interest of public health to stop/slow the spread of COVID-19. School system leaders, teachers, and staff have been working diligently to ensure the continuation of quality instruction and services to our students, as well as timely communication to all stakeholders.

As we have received many questions and more information since yesterday, please review our Parent FAQ here. This document will continue to be updated as we receive further guidance from local, state, and national levels.

Please note these especially time-sensitive points:

  • Parents can pick up their child’s medication if needed on Mon., March 16 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. in the lobby of their child’s school. Please contact the School Nurse at your child’s school this weekend if possible so they can have it ready for you on Monday.
  • If students were absent today or left needed items in their classrooms, those materials may be picked up during that same time frame in school lobbies. Please contact your child’s school if you need to pick up materials on Monday. Schools will not be accessible after Monday at noon until OCS re-opens.

As you spend time at home over these next two weeks, please continue to follow CDC guidance to limit exposure to viral infections, which can be found here.

During these uncertain times, it is even more apparent how blessed we are to live, learn, and work in Oconee County. We appreciate our community for responding with generosity, kindness, and support. 

Sincerely,

Jason L. Branch, Ph.D.
Superintendent



Update on March 12, 2020

Dear Oconee County Schools Community,

Oconee County Schools has been closely monitoring coronavirus (COVID-19) with guidance from the CDC, Georgia Department of Public Health, Oconee County Health Department, Oconee County Emergency Management Agency, and Georgia Department of Education. As the situation has continued to change rapidly, our top priority remains the health and safety of our school community. 

This afternoon, Governor Brian Kemp issued a “call to action” and asked school leaders to consider closing for two weeks to limit the spread of this virus. While there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oconee County, in the greater interest of public health, OCS will be closed for two weeks beginning Monday, March 16 and re-opening Monday, March 30. During this closing, there will be no extracurricular activities, sports, school events, or field trips. As additional information and guidance are provided, updates will be shared.

Over this period, schools and buses will continue to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected using COVID-19 approved cleaners. We ask our families to wash backpacks, coats, and jackets as soon as possible as well.

Your child(ren)’s teachers and principals will be sending out information regarding digital and distance learning in the near future. Information about COVID-19 will continue to be posted at oconeeschools.org/COVID19.

Especially in this uncertain time, we appreciate our community for their continued support. Please take the necessary precautions to keep yourself, your families, and the broader community safe.

Sincerely,


Jason L. Branch
Superintendent


 
Update on March 10, 2020


Dear Oconee County Schools Community,

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has updated its travel guidelines regarding coronavirus (COVID-19). While there are currently zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oconee County, we are aware of both heightened concern and that many families are looking ahead to Spring Break. Therefore, we will continue to provide you with updated information as it is made available. 

The most updated notices indicate for individuals to avoid nonessential travel to the following countries:

  • China
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • Japan 
  • South Korea

Regarding cruises:

  • CDC recommends travelers defer all cruise ship travel at this time. 

We ask all individuals who may be planning to travel to these countries or taking a cruise to self-report to their child’s principal or their supervisor as soon as they know of these plans. We ask that these individuals wait for the 14-day incubation period (beginning the day of return to the U.S.) to expire before enrolling in school or returning to school. Students will be provided distance learning during this period and not counted as absent. 

As a reminder, the following are CDC recommendations to help prevent infection of respiratory viruses:

  • Keep sick children at home until they are fever-free without medication for 24 hours.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cough or sneeze into an elbow or use a tissue and place immediately in the trash.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces - including coats and backpacks.

Please know that schools and buses are thoroughly cleaned daily and disinfected frequently. Our cleaners are approved for use against COVID-19. We have long had strong practices in place regarding clean, healthy schools and we will continue to be vigilant in our procedures.

More information on the coronavirus is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus. Thank you for partnering with us to reinforce the above preventative measures at home.

Sincerely,


Jason L. Branch, Ph.D,
Superintendent



Update on March 2, 2020

Dear Oconee County Schools Community,

Oconee County Schools remains in contact with local and state agencies regarding the emergence of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. There are zero confirmed cases in Oconee County at this time.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following to help prevent infection of respiratory viruses:

  • Keep sick children at home until they are fever-free without medication for 24 hours.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into an elbow or use a tissue and place immediately in the trash.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces - including coats and backpacks.

Please know that schools and buses are thoroughly cleaned daily and sanitized frequently. 

CDC recommends avoiding all nonessential travel to China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy. Out of an abundance of caution, we request that any students traveling to one of these countries wait for the 14-day incubation period (beginning the day of return to the U.S.) to expire before enrolling in school or returning to school. Children will be provided online learning during this period and not counted as absent. 

More information on the coronavirus is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html.

Oconee County Schools will continue to follow the direction of the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Georgia Department of Education, and the CDC. Thank you for your help in reinforcing the above CDC guidelines at home.

Sincerely,


Jason L. Branch, Ph.D.
Superintendent