COVINGTON, Ga. — While public school students are beginning the school year online, some Newton County private school students are taking classes both in-person and at home.
Safety concerns around the pandemic prompted Newton County public schools to begin the academic year with most students learning online from teachers based in remote locations.
However, four local private schools are taking different approaches to conducting classes. The schools in July and August either opened their doors to students or asked them to learn at home, officials said.
Providence Classical Christian School in Oxford allowed its 107 students in grades pre-K through 10 to return to its school building Aug. 3. Headmaster David Bryant said parents showed “a real spirit to get back open” this year.
School officials assembled a team that included parents with medical expertise to figure out how students could attend class safely, he said.
“We changed how the school day was done,” he said. “We’re trying to limit student groups.”
He said relatively smaller groups of students meet for classes, with older students separated from younger students.
Grace Christian Academy has its 80 students in grades kindergarten through 12 coming to its Covington location on a split schedule — half in the morning and half in the afternoon, said Principal Tim Allen.
The school is foregoing serving lunch to eliminate the possibility students could spread or contract the disease from fellow students during the meal time, Allen said.
The split schedule lowers the number of students in the building to the point the school can seat students according to Centers for Disease Control social distancing guidelines, he said.
The school was forced to halt its in-person teaching after the pandemic hit in late March. It taught students using the Zoom platform — which was a “major adjustment” for school officials forced to upgrade equipment to meet the demand, Allen said.
Alpha Omega Preparatory Academy responded to the safety concerns this school year by requiring most students to pick up needed class materials weekly from its physical location on Salem Road and learn from home.
Owner Jon Davenport said the school in western Newton County issued students textbooks at the beginning of the year in late July.
Peachtree Academy in Covington began the school year Aug. 12 and 13. It allowed its 400 students the choice between virtual or in-person learning, said CEO JaNice Van Ness. About 80% of students are learning in-person and the rest virtually, she said. Students in the pre-K through grade 12 who are learning virtually receive instruction through live-streaming, Van Ness said. Younger students also receive packets of activities, she said.
“We don’t want them sitting in front of the computer all day,” she said.
She said the school’s leadership team worked out a plan for the school year before having to “refine it day to day” based on changing conditions concerning the disease.