WARRENTON, Ga. (WJBF) — The decision to move to an online model came after a 218% increase in COVID-19 cases in the area since last week. The superintendent of Warren County says it too much spread of the virus to continue traditional school.
“I feel personally responsible for about 750 people,” said Carole Jean Carey. “We are also in a minority-poverty system, and we have members of our staff who have real health problems.”
About 40% of Warren County students were already learning online after school began in early August. Now the doors are closed, and the rest of the student population will be headed home to learn. School leaders will announce on September 3rd if students and staff can return on September 8th.
“In Warren County, we are the least connected county in the state of Georgia,” explained Carey. “In other words, we have the least connectivity to the internet in Georgia. You can see why it was important for us while our numbers were so low to start school because we can’t have school unless we have school.”
Superintendent Carey told NewsChannel 6 reporter Devin Johnson the system is currently working with internet providers to place full-time hot spots within the county. Closing the doors also closes the ability to provide student meal programs in order to limit the spread of the virus a decision the district didn’t take lightly.
“It was difficult to do that,” said Operations Director, Scott Richardson. “We also had to look at the fact that the school system was unable to deliver all of the meals where they need to go.”
Superintendent Carey says the requirement for a full kitchen staff is roughly 20 people, which makes it impossible to appropriately social distance. The school district is currently working with several organizations to make sure no child goes hungry.
“Every week, when we have done ‘Farmers to Families Box,’ we are feeding roughly 400 people,” said Richardson. “We run out of 700 boxes in about an hour.”
Warren County is providing boxes of meals for families, every Tuesday. The weekly food drive is expected to continue until further notice.