Forsyth school superintendent tells how they will deal with learning loss and rising COVID-19 cases

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County Schools superintendent, Dr. Jeff Bearden, says if the district’s COVID-19 numbers continue to stay low, face-to-face learning for students should feel pretty normal this school year.

“I’m concerned. We should all be concerned. You know, we watch the data every single day, but that local data will drive our decisions,” Bearden said.

This is a big undertaking for a district with more than 51,000 students.

“We are going to have masks as optional for students and staff alike. However, we’ll continue to monitor the data. And if we need to make any changes to mitigate exposure, we will do that,” said Bearden.

Bearden said if they experience an outbreak that forces the district to go virtual, there’s a robust learning management system in place to quickly transition to remote learning.

Last year about 20% of Forsyth County students learned virtually.

“We’re going to start the school new school year at 95% face-to-face, 5% virtual. There’s a much greater comfort level with our parents this year than there was this time last year,” said Bearden.

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The district is also addressing any possible learning loss faced by students last year.

“We were able to offer extended year programs over the summer, we were able to reach out to students who needed that additional support, we will continue extended year opportunities throughout the rest of the school year,” Bearden said.

Bearden said the district has grown because of the pandemic, especially teachers. Many were forced out of their comfort zones in the classroom.

“Now teachers are telling me, they feel like they have more tools in their toolbox, they feel like they will be even more successful now, even if they never have to teach remotely again,” Bearden said.

Bearden said his greatest challenge will be making sure parents are comfortable with their children returning to the classroom.