Dooly schools extend virtual learning until Feb.1.

Published 1:35 pm Wednesday, January 13, 2021


Staff Report

Dr. Craig Lockhart, Superintendent of the Dooly County School System, announced in a letter to parents that as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the nation, including Dooly County, the 100 percent virtual learning option must be extended until February 1.

“I sincerely apologize for any hardship this decision causes working families,” Lockhart wrote. “But the Dooly County School System has been largely successful in preventing school-based outbreaks by choosing to err on the side of caution.”

He said that assuming there are improvements in the COVID numbers among faculty, staff and students, those students who wish to return may do so on February 1.

If COVID conditions do not improve, he said, the 100 percent virtual learning option might be extended until the beginning of the fourth nine weeks.

Students who prefer virtual learning may opt to receive that option until further notice.

“While we have had some success stories in virtual learning, there is absolutely no substitute for the power of face-to-face, in person learning,” he wrote. “I humbly ask that we stay vigilant by wearing our masks, avoiding large crowds and maintaining social distancing. Please consider your options for taking the COVID vaccines once they become readily available; while this is a personal decision, it currently appears to be the best way to returning to the safer, healthier lifestyle that we once enjoyed.

“I thank you all for your understanding and patience during these difficult times. Please know that we will get through this. If you have not done so, please download the Dooly County School System app to get updates as needed. Your schools will keep you informed of any other information that you will need. Thank you, and please stay safe.


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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.