School work

Online studies can only help, not hurt final grades for academic year

Pierce County Schools will base graduation for seniors and promotion and retention for all other students on their academic standing at the end of the third nine weeks of school.

Students will be given an opportunity to bring their grades up, however.

School superintendent Dr. Kevin Smith gave that update at the school board’s regular monthly meeting last Monday night. The meeting was held virtually via Youtube owing to the threat posed by COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Dr. Smith informed board members teachers have been providing virtual learning  for students who have internet access and education packets for students who don’t.

“Our teachers have done a great job staying in touch with their students,” he said. “They have been reaching out and communicating with their students during this unusual time.”

The Georgia Department of Education has received formal approval waiving all testing, accountability and attendance requirements for the remainder of the school year.

The waiver is due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic which led Governor Brian Kemp to close schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year, abruptly ending the school year.

Smith said current Department of Education guidance is that student eligibility for graduation for seniors and for promotion for all other grade levels will be based on the students’ academic standing at the time classes were suspended.

Dr. Smith pointed out, however, local students can still do their academic work, but noted grades can only help — and not hurt —a student going forward.

“We are giving students the opportunity to bring their grades up if they desire,” he said.

Smith said both online work and packet work should be submitted by May 8 for consideration. Each school would have a receptacle out front for students to turn in work.

May 22 will still be considered the close of school and report cards will be mailed to all students in the school system by May 28.

Dr. Smith again said graduation has not been formally canceled for May 22, but it appears more and more likely the ceremony will not occur on that date.

“We have discussed marking the occasion at 7:30 p.m. May 22, the scheduled time of the ceremony, by having the lights at Bear Stadium turned on to shine for 20 minutes in honor of the class of 2020,” he said.

Dr. Smith said efforts will be made to have a formal ceremony honoring the class sometime in June or July.

Smith also noted all spring sports have been canceled and there will be no extension of eligibility.

He also announced kindergarten registration for the 2020-2021 school year has been postponed and will be rescheduled once the virus threat has passed.