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Newton schools extending remote learning through Jan. 15
Increase in COVID cases prompts officials to add five days to remote learning; in-person learners returning to school on day after MLK holiday
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COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County School System will continue its remote learning environment for students for an additional five days "due to an increase in community transmission of the virus," a news release stated. 

All students will now utilize online learning or pre-developed work assignments through Friday, Jan. 15. Students currently served in-person will now report to school on Jan. 19, district officials said in an open letter to parents and families.

"We recognize that our students and families are excited about getting back to business as usual in the New Year; we are, too," the release stated. 

"District officials have reviewed the COVID-19 data for Newton County and also consulted this week with local medical professionals representing both the Gwinnett/Newton/Rockdale Health Department and Piedmont Newton Hospital."

Newton County's confirmed case rate increased from 298 during the Dec 19-25 time period, to 336 for the Dec. 26-Jan. 1 period, according to statistics from the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The county had a 14-day confirmed case rate of 579 per 100,000 population, which was lower than the statewide case rate of 718 per 100,000, the department reported. 

Officials said in the letter, "This is a short-term solution to aid in the reduction of the transmission of the virus in our schools and community."

"Throughout the month of January, district leaders will review the COVID-19 data in five-day increments to determine the best course of action for our school system." 

The district will announce the next week’s mode of instruction each Wednesday at 7 p.m. via School Messenger call. For example, parents will receive a School Messenger call on Wednesday, Jan. 13, regarding school status for the week of Monday, Jan. 18.

Jan. 18 is the MLK birthday holiday for students and staff, it noted. 

"The district will continue this procedure until the COVID-19 numbers significantly reduce to the point that a return to in-person instruction is safe," the letter stated.

While remote learning is being done, parents of regular in-person students may obtain free breakfast and lunch meals daily from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the students' nearest school. 

Weekly meal boxes are also available for pickup at the following distribution sites: Live Oak Elementary, Heard-Mixon Elementary, West Newton Elementary, Middle Ridge Elementary, and Oak Hill Elementary. Virtual learning students may continue to obtain free meals at their regular bus stop drop off site, the letter stated. 

"We realize that in-person instruction is often the most beneficial method of instruction for our students; however, the health and safety of the children and staff must be our No. 1 priority. 

"Our goal is to return to in-person instruction as quickly as possible," the letter stated. 

"Our ability to return to in-person instruction is directly connected to what is happening in our community with regard to COVID-19. Each of us plays a role in stopping the transmission of the virus in our community. Please wear a mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and stay home if you are sick."

The letter stated that, in addition to the district calls, school principals also will utilize School Messenger to provide parents with school-specific information as necessary. Parents with questions or concerns should contact their school administrator for additional details.

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