Rep. Rick Allen visits Richmond County to see COVID-19 prep in schools

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 4:43 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Rep. Rick Allen says he’s been to five school districts so far and is extremely impressed with Richmond County. Of course, he knows, that hasn’t come without its challenges.

“The rest of the country is coming to Georgia to find out how we’re doing things. And they’re going to come to Richmond County to see how we’re doing things,” Allen said.

Since school has started, about 0.5 percent of in-person learners have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 7 percent have had to quarantine after coming in contact with a positive case.

But after his stop at Richmond County, Allen believes the district is doing all the right things.

“I’ve seen unbelievable planning, I’ve seen tremendous courage from not only this board but also our superintendent, our teachers,” he said.

The House Education and Labor Committee member says he’s fought for school districts to maintain an in-person learning option.

“The American people deserve choice. If a parent wants their child in an in-person environment, then they deserve that right to have that child in an in-person environment,” Allen said.

Though Richmond County has had to temporarily shut down four schools due to COVID-related absences, Allen says it demonstrates the school system’s willingness to fight the virus while providing the best method of education.

“When it comes to safety, if you’ve got to close a school down, you’ve got to do it. Does that take courage? Yes,” Allen said.

Aside from the uncertainties of COVID-19, Allen and Superintendent Kenneth Bradshaw say they’ve seen a major increase in the amount of parent participation and interest in child education.

“The parents are supporting these students and that’s probably just one point of pride - just the increased parent support that we’ve seen over the last few weeks,” Bradshaw said.

And while school during a pandemic, will never be perfect:

“The motivation here is extraordinary. In a situation that is very difficult,” Allen said.

But school leaders say -- they’re proud of how the school year has gone so far.

“Now we’re at the point of pivoting to really focusing on student achievement. That’s our core business,” Bradshaw said.

One of Allen’s biggest concerns is that students will bring the virus home to older relatives. He says he wants to get rapid saliva testing in every school before students go home at the end of the day.

However, there’s no word yet on if that’s going to actually happen or a possible timeline.

RCSS COVID-19 Data through October 1, 2020. Data will be updated weekly.

RCSS COVID-19 Data through October 1, 2020. Data will be updated weekly.
RCSS COVID-19 Data through October 1, 2020. Data will be updated weekly.(Source: RCSS)

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