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Rapid school closures take toll on Richmond County families

Published: Nov. 4, 2020 at 5:44 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Ten schools in Richmond County now fully learning from home for COVID-19 concerns after two more elementary schools and one high school made the switch.

Seven other schools are already fully virtual, so we looked at the challenges that brought for schools and parents.

With less than a full day’s notice, parents of students at Blythe Elementary and Barton Chapel are left trying to figure out what to do. They’ve just learned their students will now be learning from home.

“I’m taking it day-by-day. I have to because, like I said, I have no one. Like, it’s put a damper on everything," working mom Lamdia Donaldson said.

Donaldson is scrambling to figure out plans for her elementary schoolers who are learning from home for two weeks.

“It was like a lot going through my mind. Like, ‘What am I going to do? Oh no, were they very safe? Did my kids catch it?’” she said. “Now I’ve got to take them to the doctor. Now I’ve got to listen out and see if they’ve got a fever, or if they’re coughing. You know, so it was serious. There was a lot going through my mind.”

She doesn’t have a laptop at home, so her kids are working off paper packets. But the district says teachers have different resources to help.

“All of our teachers have a telephone number so that students don’t have access to the internet or to the web, they can still be connected to their teachers,” Lynthia Ross, Richmond County Schools communications director, said.

Donaldson says it’s been a help for her kids.

“My daughters' teacher is very good. She called and checked on us. You know, she said she understands we don’t have a computer, but if we need any help with the packets, she’s here for us,” she said.

As teachers, parents, and students transition at home, the district says they will continue to keep safety a priority.

“We’re going to continue working with the department of public health, and keeping safety first for our students, of our staff, and our community,” Ross said.

Despite the struggles, parents like Donaldson say they agree with the decision.

“I’m not mad at them. They have to do what they have to do. And I think -- I do agree with them,” she said. “You know, with the decision of closing the school down, and anyone that does have the symptoms, you know, stay away.”

School lunches are still available to parents of Richmond County students who are now learning from home. Parents should call 706-826-1122 for all questions about meal-pickups.

According to the district’s website as of last Thursday, 36 students and 16 staff are positive for COVID-19 right now. 853 students and 130 staff are in quarantine across the district.

RICHMOND COUNTY SCHOOLS CLOSED AS OF NOV. 4:

  • C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School, which will reopen Nov. 9.
  • W.S. Hornsby Middle School, which will reopen on Nov. 9.
  • Jenkins-White Elementary School, which will reopen Nov. 9.
  • Murphey Middle School, which will reopen Nov. 12.
  • Freedom Park Elementary School, which will reopen Nov. 12.
  • Blythe Elementary School, which will reopen Nov. 17.
  • Barton Chapel Elementary School, which will reopen Nov. 18.
  • Terrace Manor Elementary School will reopen on Nov. 18.
  • Hornsby Elementary School will reopen on Nov. 19.
  • Laney High School will reopen on Nov. 19.

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