A new addition is being made to the Georgia Military College Preparatory School uniform for the 2020-21 academic year — face masks.
The school announced Tuesday that unless Gov. Brian Kemp orders schools to close like he did in March, cadets, faculty and staff will be on campus for the upcoming term.
“With protocols and policies in place, GMC will resume in-seat instruction in August at GMC Prep School for grades 3-12 for the academic school year,” a press release from the school states.
The press release outlined protocols that will be in place aimed at keeping students and staff safe from COVID-19. School officials were not taking any questions about the procedures yet as more information will be made available closer to the start of the school year.
With a little more than a month remaining before school is scheduled to begin, schools have started announcing their intentions for the 2020-21 year. Around Milledgeville, John Milledge Academy officials have said JMA plans on bringing students back while the Baldwin County School District is expected to present its plan for local public schools at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Baldwin County is currently classified as a “substantial spread” community by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). Designations are given based on the number of new cases of the novel coronavirus presenting in a county. The three designations in descending order of severity are substantial, minimal to moderate spread, and low/no spread. DPH and the Georgia Department of Education teamed up in June to produce a roadmap for schools and school systems deciding whether or not to bring students back to campus. Those in the substantial category are recommended to keep campuses closed and go back to distance learning similar to how the 2019-20 school year finished up, but the final decision on whether to return to school lies with local leaders barring a statewide closure. DPH issues a report each week detailing the level of spread in each county, so Baldwin County could be downgraded by the time schools are set to reopen.
GMC Prep in May announced that it was bringing students back to campus for summer school where only between 10 and 15 students were expected. The Georgia High School Association (GHSA), the governing body for high school sports in the state, told schools they could begin bringing student-athletes in for voluntary summer workouts starting June 8. GMC Prep took an extra week to prepare and has had between 60 and 70 students on campus daily for workouts. The school is planning to host camps and events for students throughout July, but the real test comes when faculty and students return in August.
The school said in its press release that it has committed around $250,000 toward equipment to mitigate the risk of spread around campus. Chief among those equipment purchases are ionization units in GMC’s HVAC systems meant to improve air quality by releasing positive and negative charges into the air.
Other protocols expected to be enacted include:
- all students and staff will be issued two masks by the school and will be required to keep one with them at all times and wear them while in congested areas;
- students and staff will have their temperatures checked and will answer screening questions before entering a building on campus at the start of the day;
- students with temperatures 100 degrees or higher and staff members with temperatures 100.4 degrees or higher will be sent home;
- additional hand sanitizing stations have been placed around campus for use;
- enhanced cleaning measures will be put in place, including using approved chemicals to fight the spread of COVID-19;
- fogging equipment will be used to help disinfect facilities; and
- food service workers will be required to wear masks and gloves at all times while in the school’s dining facilities.
GMC staff members have attended lectures and training held by the University System of Georgia and Georgia National Guard to help “refine and validate” the school’s cleaning procedures, according to the press release. Plans will continue to be evaluated between now and the start of the school year.
GMC Prep faculty members are scheduled to report for their first day Monday, Aug. 3, with students set to arrive Friday, Aug. 7 for a half day.