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Rising COVID cases lead Newton schools to extend remote learning another week
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COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County School System officials say weekly data for the county convinced them to extend virtual learning for all students another week through Jan. 29 because "we haven’t seen a decrease in the rate of transmission of the COVID-19 virus." 

"We understand that this may be an inconvenience to many parents and guardians; however, the health and safety of our students and staff is our No. 1 priority. Our hope is that this short-term solution will aid in the reduction of the transmission of the virus in our schools and community," a school system news release stated. 

"We want to assure you that this is indeed just a short-term solution. We have heard rumors that our plan is a method to move to a completely virtual instructional model; this is simply not true. 

"We will continue to monitor the numbers on a weekly basis and collaborate with our local medical professionals in order to make the best decision possible for our students and staff."

The two-week case rate among Newton County residents ages 5 to 17 was 358 per 100,000 on Jan. 14, up from 214 per 100,000 on Jan. 7, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The school system news release stated that, after consulting with local medical professionals representing both the Gwinnett/Newton/Rockdale Health Department and Piedmont Newton Hospital, officials decided to continue in a remote learning setting for an additional week. 

All students will utilize online learning or pre-developed work assignments through Jan. 29. Students currently served in-person, as well as those who signed up to transition from remote to in-person for the second semester, will now report to school on Feb. 1. 

"We realize that in-person instruction is the most beneficial method of instruction for most of our students, and we look forward to getting our students back into our buildings. Our goal is to return to in-person instruction as quickly as possible. 

"It is important to note, that 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 an important 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."

In addition to the district calls, school principals also will use the School Messenger platform to provide parents with school-specific information as necessary. Parents with questions or concerns should contact their school administrator for additional details, the release stated.

In addition, while remote learning is in process, parents of regular in-person students may obtain free breakfast and lunch meals daily from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the nearest school or pick up meals from one of the school system's designated bus stop delivery locations, according to the release. 

To determine the location and timing of the meal delivery stop closest to a Newton County residence, visit:

The NCSS School Nutrition Department in conjunction with the system's Transportation Department also will deliver daily meals, including weekend meals on Fridays, to the following temporary bus delivery locations: Arbor Lake Apartments, Cedar Grove Community, Covington Estates, Five Oaks Subdivision, Jamestown, Long Branch Subdivision, Salem Springs, Twin Chimneys Subdivision, Wagon Train, and Wells Mobile Home Park. 

Delivery times may be found at the following link:

In addition to daily meals, NCSS School Nutrition also will provide weekly meal boxes for pickup at the following school distribution sites: Live Oak Elementary, Heard-Mixon Elementary, West Newton Elementary, Middle Ridge Elementary, and Oak Hill Elementary. The NCSS Food Bus will also stop at select locations throughout the county to distribute weekly meals. 

Location, days and distribution times may be found on the NCSS website at the following link:

"Please note that current virtual learning students may continue to obtain free meals at their regular bus stop dropoff site," the release stated.