Jackson County's three school systems are planning to return to in-person classes in the coming weeks — but that could change as cases of the COVID virus surge in the area.
In recent days, several Atlanta-area school systems have delayed reopening or moved to online only classes. Nearby Gwinnett County, the state's largest school system, decided this week to open with online classes and no in-person classes due to the virus surge.
The Jackson County School System may adjust its plans later this week, said superintendent April Howard. Howard said a number of staff members in the system have tested positive for the virus.
"That is an impact on planning and potential adjustment," she said.
Around 18 percent of students in the system have requested virtual learning rather than attending in-school classes, Howard said.
The City of Jefferson School System plans to return to class on July 31. Superintendent Donna McMullan said those plans are still on, but the system is monitoring the current surge in the virus. Less than five percent of Jefferson students have opted for online virtual learning, she said.
The City of Commerce School System is set to reopen on Aug. 7. Superintendent Joy Tolbert said those plans remain the same. Around five percent of Commerce students have opted for virtual learning only, she said.
The state revised its guidelines for reopening schools last week to focus less on community spread of the virus and more on dealing with the virus within school facilities.
None of the three local systems will mandate students wear a mask, but leaders in the systems say masks will be encouraged.