Health Officials Take Part in HCS Readiness Assessment
Submission Date: September 17, 2020
Release Date: For Immediate Release
Contact: J.D. Hardin, 770-957-6601 ext. 161, email@example.com
(Release # 0018-9-2020)
Health Officials Take Part in HCS Readiness Assessment
Healthcare community tours schools, gives feedback on return-to-campus plans
HENRY COUNTY, GA – Henry County Schools officials welcomed valued members of the healthcare community to schools in the district to help assess the district plans and preparedness to welcome students back on September 28.
A dozen healthcare professionals and providers, including officials from Piedmont Henry Hospital, Georgia Department of Public Health – District 4, and local pediatricians, spent a portion of the afternoon on September 17 touring school buildings in the district, reviewing published plans and protocols, and speaking with school leaders. The tour and presentations were aimed at giving a first-hand look at all the preparations that have been accomplished in the district and soliciting feedback on strengths and areas for improvement.
The walking tours provided access to the art and music rooms, gym, cafeteria, regular and self-contained classrooms, media center, and school clinic areas. Presentations and discussions were also had regarding transportation, arrival and dismissal procedures, and the district’s plans for communicating and responding to positive cases of COVID-19 in the school buildings.
“It was important to utilize the voices and feedback of our highly valued healthcare partners to closely examine our efforts to safely welcome back students to our campuses,” said Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis. “Their perspectives are undoubtedly unique and provide the perfect lens to capture what all is prepared and what might need to be enhanced to welcome our students back to a safe learning environment. Their partnership is crucial to helping us have a successful reopening.”
The district has been working since the end of last school year and through the summer on plans to provide a hybrid learning environment for students. The hybrid model affords students the opportunity to learn remotely from home or return to a campus that has been adapted to meet the health and safety needs to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The early plans to open the school year with a hybrid model were delayed when a spike in COVID-19 cases occurred in the middle of July. With health metrics improving for the community, the Henry County Board of Education approved plans to move forward with a phase-in return to on-campus learning for families choosing this model.
After concluding the campus tours, healthcare leaders had several positive comments and suggestions regarding the district’s plans to reopen schools to students at the end of the month.
“I was really impressed with the level of detail, the level of attention, the level of thoughtfulness that went into planning the safe return of our students,” said Piedmont Henry Hospital Chief Executive Officer Lily Henson. “Piedmont Henry Hospital is really proud to be a partner with Henry County Schools in ensuring that our students and the staff are safe.”
Piedmont Henry Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Watkins noted that while there has been substantial work done to prepare the schools, he was appreciative of the schools inviting him and the other healthcare professionals to provide their own assessment and suggest any needed enhancements.
“I saw a lot of detail and planning that has already been done, but not only that, Henry County Schools is open to customizing and refining the planning that they’ve done so they can take care of not only the school but the students, staff, and the rest of the community,” said Watkins.
Local pediatrician Dr. Patrick Pulliam with Covenant Care Pediatrics also added his take on the robust preparations that he was able to observe.
“It’s great to see all this on paper and the great documents that have been done and the presentations at board meetings, but then a chance for medical professionals and public health officials to come to the schools and see it in action was very enlightening,” said Pulliam. “It was encouraging to actually see the things that have been talked about put into practice because that doesn’t always happen in other organizations and scenarios.”
On Monday, September 28, Henry County Schools will welcome back students in all grades who chose on-campus learning as a part of Phase 2 of the district’s gradual return plans. This phase includes students coming back for two days this one week for an orientation period. Students with last names starting with letter A through M will return on Monday and Tuesday, and students with last names starting with letter N through Z will return on Thursday and Friday. Students in self-contained programs will be able to come back Monday through Friday as a part of Phase 2 and beyond.
The following week of October 5-9, Phase 3 will start with students in Pre-K through 8th grade who chose the on-campus learning option returning to school buildings Monday through Friday. High school students will remain on a split schedule according to their last name until the start of Phase 4 which has not been given a start date at this time.
For more information on Henry County Schools and the Return-to-Campus plans and playbook, visit www.henry.k12.ga.us. There are multiple places for visitors to find health metrics, answers to questions, and plans for both remote and on-campus learning for students.