I want to wish each member of the East Hall Middle School family a Happy Holiday Season. Remember to spend quality time with family and friends, making memories that no one can take away.
HALL COUNTY SCHOOLS
When a student tests positive for COVID-19 in a Hall County school, administrators work with a contact tracing team made up of contractors who have completed a 6-hour contact tracing course offered by Johns Hopkins University.
The contact tracing team includes two full-time workers during the day and two-part time workers on nights and weekends, according to Hall County director of student services Tamara Etterling. Contact tracers are paid $18 an hour in local money, Etterling said, and the team includes Spanish speakers so the district can effectively communicate with parents who don’t speak English well.
School principals first submit a form to the contact tracing team with information about the positive case, including what grade the student is in and what classrooms he or she has been sitting in, according to Etterling, Hall County’s director of student services. The principals themselves reference seating charts provided by teachers to find out who has been sitting close to the infected student, Etterling said. Those who have been within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive individual for more than 15 minutes are then asked to quarantine away from school for 14 days.
“We do physically measure the distance between where an infected individual was seated and where surrounding students were located,” Etterling said. “We want to make that clear to the public, that we do physically measure that. We take this extremely seriously.”
Etterling added that principals also talk to teachers about student activity in recent classes to determine if the infected student may have come into contact with students outside of those sitting near them.
If the infected student is a bus rider, principals also pull video footage from buses and watch it to see who the student may have been near while riding to and from school. The same standard for exposure – within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer – is applied to decide if other students need to quarantine.
At the end of every day, the contact tracing team notifies the Georgia Department of Public Health of any new cases that have popped up. DPH officials use the names and contact information of the students’ families to go through a contact tracing process of their own.
When it comes to the quarantining of entire classes, schools or even the whole school system, Hall County takes into account advice from DPH, but all final decisions are made by the district itself.
Schofield said during the conversation with The Times on Sept. 29 that future quarantines, including a potential full school or districtwide quarantine, would not be unlikely.
“We’re one day away from quarantines every day,” he said. “I hope it does not occur, but we’re ready for it, and it certainly would not be a surprise if we get to that point.”
Can I just say “WOW!
We have had a great first two weeks of school. Thank you parents for teaching the students the importance of wearing their face mask and hand sanitizing. Every student has done a great job in their efforts to social distance in the hallways and in the classroom when possible. With this kind of participation, I have no doubt that we will continue to be successful through this pandemic.
We are in a different kind of school year. I’ll be the first to tell you that we have no idea as to how things will turn out, but we will continue to try and put our best foot forward to protect your child and the school.
The teachers are doing a great job in their classrooms to keep the rooms sanitized, the custodians are working overtime to ensure things are ready each day, and the cafeteria workers are doing a great job being flexible in feeding everyone when needed.
The county has provided us with cleaning supplies, hand sanitizing stations, floor markers and guidance in a timely manner so we can implement the strategies within and around the school. Students are checked every morning before they enter the school and no one else is authorized to enter the building unless they are a Hall County employee or a contractor.
As we continue this journey, I ask that you continue to be patient with us as we figure things out and work through the process.
We have a great school. It is made great by the students, the parents, the entire staff and the community who all love East Hall Middle School.
If you should ever have any concerns, feel free to contact me, Dr Chandler, at the school.
Bring on the rest of the school year!
As we initiate conversations, I believe that we need to start the important conversations within the walls of our schools. We need to make this conversation part of our mentoring programs. These conversations need to be part of our churches and other organization. Not after the fact, but before the action begins.
Right now, as we begin to transition back to a normal way of life, we need to prepare to explain and teach our youth about the actions they have seen all over the television the past couple of weeks. We need to have the discussions of how they can contribute to bridge this gap.
We need to bridge the gap between the generations. We need to enhance teaching of love and togetherness. Not only the conversation, but continue to build on the actions it takes to drown out the kinds of mistreatment and hatred we continue to experience. Not only for one color of people, but for all people. We must continue to make steps forward and not backwards.
Just a Thought!
I was thinking about a speech I did a few years ago. It is amazing how things tend to come back around at you, then you realize how prevalent it is. But I was thinking about the speech and the reaction it received afterwards for a paragraph in it. It was something like this:
“Why are we in the space and place we are today? How have we gotten lost in the shuffle of society, in the persuasion of those who refuse to make change, and who we are as a people?
If I asked you to walk into the room in the beginning and ask for all the young ladies to sit on one side and all of the young men to sit on the other side, then have all the lights turned off to a pitch black darkness.
Imagine everyone had their heads shaved, their eyebrows and lashes shaved, everybody had on the same type perfume. Girls had their nails clipped down to the finger. Nobody had any outside features that could be detected.
Then without talking to each other, walk around and try to find a friend.
Chances are—you couldn’t.
The point is, no matter how we look on the outside, no matter what our outside features are, no matter where we grew or were born, on the inside, we are the same. We all bleed the same blood, our hearts beat the same, our muscles are constructed the same, and we typically function the same.. Have we failed to understand that?
When you plant a flower, it will have roots while it is nourished in the ground and stabilizes its foundation, but when it begins to grow up top, it is still a flower though it may be different in sight.
Lets get back to the business of being the people God intended for us to be.”
Good Morning Parents,
As we approach the beginning of the school year, there are certain questions that continue to rise about the wearing of the mask. At this point, it is not mandatory for students to wear the mask in school. It is only mandatory to wear the mask on the school bus.
When in school, students are encouraged to wear the mask in order to continue to help us in protecting each other in this environment.
Students who wear mask, must follow the following guidelines:
-Mask must have no negative or derogatory messages on it.
-Mask must not have suggestive messages, drawings, or writing on it
-Bandanas can not be used as mask
In preparation for the start of the new school year, we recommend students acquire a couple of masks that allow them to be comfortable throughout the school day.
Students should also have a water bottle with them at all times. The water fountains will be turned off throughout the day.
We encourage students to bring their own hand sanitizer to school as we have a limited supply at the moment
As we come to the close to another week, I reflect back on the earlier part of the week when students had to turn in their chromebook computers. I was standing at my post, one I took serious, because I wanted the students to be the first person from the school they saw. With my mask and gloves on, I thought, is this the way we must live? So many cautions, so many changes and so many uncertainties that continue to stare us in the face on a daily basis.
But what warmed my heart was seeing the reactions in each car as they passed me to get in line. I saw excitement, I saw gratitude, I saw bright eyes, and I saw love. Each student that passed me had a special wave and a special look that I will never forget.
Then to see the teachers fight to stand back and not run up to the car to give a big hug was humbling each day. Student wanting to get out of the car to great their favorite teacher and only being able to wave at them. It is easy to tell that not only do the teachers miss their students, but the students miss their teachers as well. But guess what, my staff and I miss each one of the “Breadcrumbs” as much as the teachers do. “Breadcrumbs” is one of the nicknames I have for them.
But then I wonder, is this how we shall now live? This pandemic has changed the way we all conduct ourselves in every thing we do. It has taken the personality out of socializing. It has put fear in our thoughts before we make a decision to action. It has taken the breath out of a laugh or a smile. It has taken the gentleness from a handshake and the compassion from a hug.
But one thing it has done and not many are talking about it, is that it has made us understand what it means to care about each other, all over again.
I miss my Breadcrumbs!
Have a great SUMMER and be SAFE!
Never could I have imagined school would turn out this way, I had visions of how the last day of school would be to complete my first year. I had a grand send off in mind for the 8th graders and a exciting close to the school year for the others. Yet, like my teachers, here I am trying to figure out why I couldn’t see you again before the end of the school year. Now when I enter the building, my mind flashes back to the things that make me come to work every day. You! Just for the record, I miss you and everything about you. I miss:
- Being in the hallway in the morning when you walk into the building off the bus and your eyes are still closed, knowing that you are still sleepy
- Standing in the hallway as you begin going to class and I give you a high-five greeting or a knuckle-bump.
- Walking down the hall to hurry to the news room and thinking what I am going to say to greet you——–“ITS HUMP DAY!”
- Seeing your reaction when I tell you that your jeans with holes in them are unsatisfactory and you need to change
- Telling you to take the earbuds out of your ears and then follow you around the corner when you have put them back in
- The one-on-one conversations we have in my office when I am trying to help you figure things out, before I call your parents
- Taking your phone away from you and then sending a long email home to your parents about it.
- Seeing at lunch when you are taking a break and talking to me or the SRO
- Our “Come to Jesus” meetings as I tell you what is expected.
- Standing in the hall when it is time to load buses to go home and thinking that I hope you will have a good evening
- Thinking about seeing you the next day, so we can do it all over again.
Just remember that you are a special part of the school, you are a special part of me, you are special.
Take care, be strong, stay focused.
We’ll get passed this and then we will get back to normal………………………….soon!
I was just sitting here thinking about how this Covid-19 has affected us all in such a short amount of time. It came in like a rushing mighty wind that none of us could properly prepare for. I compare it to the Mad Cow disease.
I experienced that when I was still in the military and stationed in Germany. We got quarantined to our base for a period of time. But as soldiers, we just follow orders and do what we are instructed to do. Of course we got over it. I was a young Sergeant then and I was learning the importance of good leadership and effective communication with the people who I was responsible for.
I remember how during that time, parents back in the states were worried and we got a lot of phone calls about their loved ones while trying to figure out if they would be safe and what were we doing to ensure their safety. That was an experience that I surely will never forget, but I had no idea that I would again, one day be facing something more serious this time around. That was in 1985-1986, seems so long, but in my mind, it was like yesterday.
I think about this a lot as I have time now to sit in the house. I think about all the danger that surrounds us and the implications as we navigate and address this virus that consumes so many people. There is so much to think about. How can a society as rich as ours get caught by something like this? How can we adjust our lives to help those more in need at this terrible time. There are so many unanswered questions that we address in order to get our society back on track.
My main thought though for this writing is to talk about the kids, the students, the little adults, whatever you want to call them, and the struggles they are having to face. I’ve taken online classes before and so has many of my friends. I have found that if you are not familiar with it or have the maturity and stamina for this type learning, you will struggle for sure.
Students are doing the best they can at this, along with getting use to the norm of being forced to stay in the house 24/7 and all the other variables they are facing in their every day lives. Yea, it is tough. I just want them to hold on, better days are coming.
I’ve been reading over and over again how this has affected teachers from my school and other teachers from all over the country. It amazes me how much of an outpouring of love and gratitude there is from teachers to their students. It feels like family at every corner. Teachers do miss their students and I am sure that students, overall, miss their schools and their teachers.
I find that no matter how the day goes at school for a student, the relationships that are built, are ones that are nurtured. Many times it is not noticed because of the every day grind by both people. Much like a parent for their children. Teachers are the next level of parenting, they are the village that I frequently speak of.
On the other hand, we as administrators, miss our students as well. Seeing them in the hallway every day and looking into their eyes, tell me how their morning has started and many times tells us if we’ll will see them in our offices at some point in the day.
Yes, it is tough going through this challenge we have been handed, but it gives us a chance to reflect, to appreciate, and to remember those we miss in our everydayness called life. Our norms have been affected for sure, and our hopes of getting them back, drives us to hang in there because just as sure as the dark clouds have come our way, soon the clouds will blow over and the sun will start shining again.
Be Smart and Be Safe