Buford City Schools to hold in-person classes this fall

Buford City Schools confirms that it will hold in-person classes this fall and school will begin on Aug. 5 as originally planned. AJC file photo

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Buford City Schools confirms that it will hold in-person classes this fall and school will begin on Aug. 5 as originally planned. AJC file photo

Buford City Schools appears to be one of the first districts in the state to announce its back to school plans.

The school board on Monday voted to start in-person classes Aug. 5, and schools will follow guidelines set by the CDC and Gov. Brian Kemp’s task force.

“Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools,” a 10-page document released June 1 is intended to aid school officials in their decisions on how to reopen schools. There are few specifics with a variety of options suggested, depending on the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“We know that the best place for our students is in their schools,” said Buford Superintendent Robert Downs. “Providing a safe and stable environment for our students and staff is our highest priority. … We know that our families and students are ready to come back as soon as our doors can safely open again.”

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Although the specific plans for returning to school have not been completed, social media sites were abuzz with the news.

“That sounds great!” said Michelle Tincher Monday afternoon. “I have faith and trust in Buford Schools to keep the kids safe.”

Her family moved to Buford about four years ago from Sugar Hill. While Tincher doesn’t see much difference in the quality of education from Gwinnett County Schools, she said the fact that Buford never had distance learning before it was thrust upon them was a detriment.

“My daughter’s a good independent learner, but it was a challenge for her,” Tincher said referring to her rising 8th grader. “I’m sure the lack of socialization was a factor, too.”

Roxanna Caspar is also glad to hear that schools will be open this fall. As a healthcare worker, she logged longer hours and wasn’t quarantined at home. With three students each at a different school, it was difficult to handle her full-time job outside the home as well as become a part-time teacher for her children.

“Those first three weeks were very stressful,” she said. “Then after Spring Break, they decided to go from five days a week of lessons to two days a week.”

That should have been a relief, Caspar said, but instead of getting a week’s worth of assignments ahead of time, the kids were getting work the same day — sometimes after she had already left the house.

“Most of the time there was no answer key and a lot of the teachers didn’t do Zoom classes,” she said. “I had to guess at a lot of it.”

Caspar said social distancing, especially on school buses, will be her biggest concern.

“They had kids riding three to a seat and some buses had kids sitting on the floor or standing,” said Caspar.

Buford administrators are still working on a comprehensive plan for returning to school. Caspar said she hopes transportation issues will be a top priority.

“Instead of spending millions of dollars on that opulent new high school and splitting the lower grades into two schools, maybe they should have bought more buses,” she said.