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Tri-county schools planning for return to school

By Neil B. McGahee

Managing Editor

The three school systems in the tri-county area — Crisp, Dooly and Wilcox — have announced dates for students to return to the classroom for face-to-face instruction.

But there’s a catch.

The lingering presence of COVID-19, the illness attributed to the coronavirus, has the final word.

Crisp County Superintendent of Schools Cindy Hughes said that county schools would open August 3 as long as the COVID-19 cases don’t dramatically increase.

CCHS faculty and staff in the Crisp school system are expected to return on July 28 and students return on August 3.

“All procedures to insure the health and safety of students and staff will be in place,” Hughes said.

According to the Crisp Academy website, school will reopen on August 5, although there was no one in the business office to corroborate that.

Dooly County faculty and staff are expected to spend July 29-31 in pre-planning with students slated to return on August 5.

Craig Lockhart

Fullington Academy in Pinehurst plans to host an Open House on August 25, with the students returning on August 27.

Wilcox County faculty and staff will return on July 29 for two planning days with students returning on August 3.

All administrators said they had their fingers crossed that COVID-19 would stay far away.

“When we shut down last March, the teachers and students had had time to build a relationship that carried on through the school year,” Hughes said. “This time, there won’t be any relationship. But face-to-face instruction is critical particularly for younger students, especially those learning how to read.

“Several things have to happen for face-to-face learning to occur,” Hughes said. “You must determine the level of risk to the community. We haven’t seen a large increase of cases yet, but certain preventions — wearing masks, using hand sanitizers, shutting down the water fountains, establishing cleaning protocols and erecting plexiglass screens for all common areas — must be done. The school busses must also be regularly cleaned and fogged.”

All superintend acknowledged that any plan has to be tentative because no one knows how the virus will react during the summer months.

“We’re going to plan ahead with the knowledge that we may have to adjust to a change in situations, but right now we plan to open face-to-face on August 3,” Hughes said.