1,350 students head back to school Monday

Seminole County school leaders and school officials all across the state are putting in overtime to respond to the challenges of reopening schools in this never-before -seen COVID-19 world. Some districts are beginning in an all-virtual mode, with an intentional phase-in plan for in-person instruction, prioritizing students who can be disproportionately impacted by virtual learning.

After months of preparations, Seminole County Schools will open on Monday, August 24 for more than 1,350 students. For months, school officials, administrators, faculty and staff have been sanitizing all surfaces and developing COVID-19 safety guidelines to ensure the safest environment and conditions as the Seminole County School System will be offering both the traditional model of instruction as well as a Full-Time Distance Learning program to registered students in grades K-12. 

Beginning on day one social distancing guidelines will be in place and mask wearing will be encouraged by students and staff; however they will not be required – at school. On the school bus it will be a different story. The Seminole County Board of Education voted this month to require the wearing of masks by everyone at all times when on a county school bus. No exceptions. Students will not be allowed to board a county school bus if a face mask is not being worn.  Seminole County School Superintendent Mark Earnest commented that social distancing precautions being taken once students arrive at school are not feasible for passengers of a school bus, therefore the mandatory requirement of wearing a mask on the bus.  A mask will be provided by the school system and the bus driver if a student attempts to board without one.

The school system’s re-opening plan can be found on the system’s new website and app. Access the reopening plan and download the app at seminole.k12.ga.us

Seminole County Middle High School (SCMHS) Principal Shane Purdy commented, “We are excited to have students in our building again.  Our staff has been tirelessly working to prepare for your return.  Another leaf has turned, and I truly hope you like the changes that are in place for you in the building and with your educational experience.  Our goal is to meet the students’ needs and push them to greater heights that they never thought were attainable.  We want Seminole County Middle High School to be the model school in all areas of excellence of Southwest Georgia.”

Changes at SCMHS building start with branding the school.  “We want our school pride visible throughout the building.  We also know students want to be informed and they like pictures of themselves and their friends.  Therefore, we have TVs throughout the building with either scrolling announcements or pictures of students.  We want to meet your needs in all areas,” added Purdy.  

Kids love to eat!  Purdy received many student complaints last year about the long lunchroom lines, running out of food, etc.  Breakfast and lunch time was nothing to look forward to according to the students.  “We listened and changes occurred,” said Purdy.  For breakfast, SCMHS will offer a hot meal, or a grab-n-go sack breakfast to carry to your first period class.  For lunch, a student can order a salad through the school app/website before 9:30 a.m.. There will be two “hot food” lines in addition to the salad line.  Therefore, students will go through the line much faster.  Seniors will have their own eating area in the gym lobby.  TVs will be on with various channels (ex. News or ESPN) for students to watch along with announcements scrolling on another TV.  Students will also be able to use their cell phone during lunch and between classes. 

School should be challenging for all.  This year SCMHS will offer Honors level classes for all grade and content areas, and it has added another Advanced Placement course for students so they are challenged in academics.  “The brain is a muscle, and when we work out our muscles they should hurt and grow.  We want the best for our students and we want them to be prepared for any post-secondary school that they can attend.  We also made a seven-period schedule for our students to allow high school students another elective.  The Middle School will benefit from this schedule with a Remediation/Enrichment period to assist with their personalized academic growth,” added Purdy.  

You get out of it what you put into it!  SCMHS has also added a “Tribe Time” for students so that the school can help educate all aspects of the child – not just academics.  A 26 minute class has been added to help educate kids on character, etiquette, college preparation, school clubs participation, financial responsibility, job applications, mentor programs, etc.  

“Students will benefit from this class by improving themselves as individuals to be better prepared for life.  We want our students involved in as much as possible to make middle and high school a meaningful experience,” Purdy said.

Transportation changes: Students will have to go through a process of changing their bus situation.  The parent will have to fill out a form and can only have their bus changed a minimal amount of times.  

Safety: Students are strongly encouraged to wear masks.  However, this is only a recommendation – not mandatory.  Hand sanitizer stations will be readily available as will masks.  Temperatures will also be taken as students enter the building.  All guests to SCMHS are expected to wear a mask.  

Communication: The school system has a new app with everything anyone needs to know about any and all school issues and activities. Download the app from the school system’s website at seminole.k12.ga.us

Seminole County  Elementary School

Parents may walk their child to class for the first three days of school. You may do so on these days without a pass.

Afterwards, we ask that you allow your child to walk to class unaccompanied, but please wear a mask.

Afternoon pick-ups:

Pre-K will be picked up at 2:50 p.m. at the Pre-K building.

K-5 pickups will be dismissed at 3:03 p.m.

There will be no pick up of students for early release after 2:40 p.m., as we will be preparing to dismiss.

During afternoon pick up, parents will not be allowed to exit their cars. Students will be escorted to vehicles.

Kindergarten students will be picked up at the breezeway at the north end of the campus.

First and second grades will be picked up at the gym.

All students who have siblings in K-fifth grades will be picked up with the sibling/s in the lowest grade (example: fifth graders with siblings in first grade will be picked up with first grade in front of the main office). 

Traffic flow:

All traffic will enter at the south entrance to the parking lot.

The lane closest to the building will be utilized by vehicles picking up students and siblings in first and second grades.

The center lane will be used by vehicles picking up students and siblings in Kindergarten.

All vehicles should stop in their designated lane in front of the main office and proceed as directed to pick up their child.

The outside lane is for through traffic only. No parking or pick up will be allowed in the outside lane.

Parents picking up students without siblings in grades three through five should pull into the parking lot and turn left, so as to loop in front of the gym. Parents should not exit vehicles or park. Remain in the line until your child has been escorted to your vehicle. After you have picked up your child, you should exit the southernmost exit and turn right on Hwy. 91 South. No left turns exiting the parking lot. 

Bus riders:

Students riding buses will be dismissed at 3:10 to load buses.

There will be no transportation changes this year. Students must ride the bus they have been assigned to.

Volunteers:

If you wish to volunteer at Seminole County Elementary School, you must have an approved background check on file with the Board of Education. All volunteers must get an updated background check yearly. If you are interested in volunteering at SCES please call Gina Alday at 524-6689 for more information and procedures. 

Extra precautions at school include:

K through second grades will eat in the rooms. They will have a grab and go breakfast that they can take to the room to eat.

Grades three through five will eat in the cafeteria.

Air purifiers will be placed in high traffic areas such as the cafeteria, gym and hallways.

Students will be encouraged to frequently wash hands.

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