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Gwinnett Schools May Transition to In-Person Instruction, over several weeks



Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) announced August 4 that they will be transitioning into in-person instruction sooner than previously thought. Below is the transcript of the “Open Letter to the Community and Employees of Gwinnett County Public Schools”.

In March 2020 our world, our lives, and our work were turned upside down by a new coronavirus that had spread across our nation. Like school districts everywhere, Gwinnett County Public Schools responded quickly to keep students learning, while keeping them and their teachers safe. Amid tremendous uncertainty and constantly changing conditions, we did our best to finish the school year strong, always hoping the COVID-19 situation would improve dramatically before time to begin the new school year in August.

Today, just eight days before school starts, there is still much uncertainty surrounding this virus, and more challenges have emerged as we wrestle with determining the best plan for opening school. That decision is made harder because there is easy access to a lot of conflicting information about COVID-19 from multiple sources, while the airwaves are filled with reports about increasing cases in Gwinnett County. We must balance that information against the concerns of parents who fear for their children’s educational progress, as well as their own employment, and need for us to bring their children back to school. At the same time, we must care for our people, many of whom have understandable concerns about returning to work when they feel the virus risk remains high for them and their families.

The Gwinnett County Board of Education and I know that the decisions we make carry high stakes for our families, students, employees, and community members. That is why we have listened to you, read your emails, and reached out to you for input as we developed possible plans for the start of school. Those plans, out of necessity, have changed from time to time, but our steadfast goal has not. We have stated from the beginning of the COVID crisis that in-person instruction for every student is what we prefer and would work to achieve. That remains our primary objective, and is the focus of this letter.

We will begin to implement in-person instruction for students whose parents desire it, and do so as soon and as safely as possible. Here is what you need to know about our plans.

We announced on July 20 that, due to the increasing spread of COVID-19 in the county, our schools would open with 100% digital instruction for all students. Teachers would deliver that instruction from their school sites beginning August 12. That plan remains in effect. Simultaneously, we will take steps to gradually transition to a blend of in-person and digital learning for students, based on their parents’ choices. Our hope is that shortly after the school year starts, we can begin to honor the choices parents made in July for either in-person or digital instruction for their children. A letter confirming the parent’s choice for each child will be sent by mid-August.

Student and staff safety will be the paramount factor in determining the pace at which we will move. We plan to begin small, bringing in a limited number of grade levels at first, then adding more grades on a staggered basis. As we have done throughout the past months, we will rely on guidance from health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the Gwinnett County Department of Public Health, as well as the Georgia Department of Education, in making that determination.

How might this plan work? The table below represents a “best-case scenario” for beginning the transition for families who want us to provide in-person instruction. Adjustments to the dates and the grade levels listed may be necessary based on the still-fluid COVID-19 situation in Gwinnett County. Regardless of the timeline, we will monitor the local conditions on a regular basis, and with guidance from our health partners, will either slow down the return to school or continue with the plan accordingly. Updates to the plan will be communicated promptly and as far in advance as possible so families and employees have time to prepare. At all times, extensive protective measures will be in place to sanitize our facilities, maintain social distance to the fullest extent possible, and make the return to school safe for children and adults. (A list of these protective measures is posted on the GCPS website.)

Our starting point for providing in-person instruction is outlined in this chart. Actual Starting Dates will be influenced by guidance from the health and educational organizations listed above.

Starting DateElementary School GradesMiddle School GradesHigh School GradesSpecial Education
August 12All grades digitalAll grades digitalAll grades digitalAll classes digital
August 26*K and 1st grade in person6th grade in person9th grade in personAll self-contained  classes in person**
September 2*K, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades in person6th and 7th grades in person9th and 10th grades in personAll self-contained classes in person**
September 9*All grades in personAll grades in personAll grades in personAll self-contained classes in person**

** Includes students who spend the majority of the day in a small-group setting: Severe/Moderate & Mild Autism; Severe/Profound, Moderate & Mild Intellectual Disabilities; Emotional-Behavioral Disabilities; ADAPT; GNETS; Visual Impairment; Moderate Visual Impairment; Orthopedic Impairment; Significant Developmentally Delayed; Specific Learning Disabilities (self-contained); Deaf/Hard of Hearing; Early Childhood Program (special needs pre-school).

School district leaders continue to hold discussions about how best to address the needs, as well as the concerns, of our students’ families and our employees. We understand that no plan will be universally popular with all stakeholders. But we are committed to doing what we believe is best for students in terms of their health, safety, and education. We ask for your patience, understanding, and cooperation in helping us achieve a positive, safe start to the new school year for Gwinnett’s children.

J. Alvin Wilbanks, CEO/Superintendent

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Nearly 2/3 of Cornerstone Christian Academy’s 7th Grade Class qualified for Duke TIP’s program



The Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP) recognizes academically talented students, using scores on standardized tests at or above the 95th percentile as its criteria. This year, nearly 63 percent of Cornerstone Academy’s current 7th grade students -the most in school history- qualified for the program. The students are as follows:

 Clara Allen, Sadie Archibald, Madeline Austin, Hudson Barrett, Katherine Beck, Kelsey Brown, Addison Brown, Rett Bush, Cole Creel, Jackson Dill, Juliette Dill, Jack Dowling, Callie Edwards, Charlie Frame, Will Hawkins, Gigi Gracie Henderson, Ben Hester, Hannah Hightower, Avery Hoffstedder, Ellie Hudgins, Ethan James, Lacie Jones, Derek Lee, Ryan Moleta, Kaitlyn Moss, Chloe Nylund, Eli Rickell, Hunter Rodgers, Spencer Schenke, Maddox Thomas, Abby Thorpe, Caroline Trice, Jackson Vanke, Cole Young

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City Government

Information on Gwinnett Property Taxes



As the county approaches the 2020 property tax season, Tax Commissioner Richard Steele is sharing information about what taxpayers can expect to see on their tax bills this year.

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners adopted its 2020 millage rates on August 18. The new property tax for economic development, a tax of 0.3 mills, was included in the resolution. According to the Board’s resolution, the new tax will “provide funds for financial assistance to the Development Authority of Gwinnett County for economic development purposes.”

Also, according to the BOC resolution, taxpayers in unincorporated Gwinnett, and those in cities that use Gwinnett police services, will see an increase of 1.3 mills on the police line of the tax bill. The resolution also calls for a 0.05 increase for recreation taxes. All other county tax rates will remain the same as last year.

With the County’s 0.259 mill rollback of the Maintenance and Operations rate, the total millage rate for unincorporated Gwinnett will increase to 14.71 mills, which is 1.391 mills higher than 2019.

The Tax Commissioner’s office was notified of the new economic development tax on August 17. Adding the new tax to the tax bills will require additional programming; therefore, the estimated mailing of the 2020 tax bills is now Oct. 1, with a Dec. 1 due date.

Any questions regarding county millage rates should be directed to the Board of Commissioners.

Gwinnett County Public Schools Taxes

Due to numerous emails and phone calls received by the Tax Commissioner’s office, Richard Steele is also reminding taxpayers that the Tax Commissioner has no authority over the amount of school taxes paid, and therefore can neither reduce nor refund any portion of school taxes due to the fact that schools are not open for in-person learning.

The Gwinnett Board of Education sets the millage rates for school taxes. This year, the school M&O millage rate is 19.70, and the school bond rate is 1.90, the same rates as in 2019.

Questions regarding the school millage rates should be directed to the Board of Education.

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Around Atlanta

Children’s Museum of Atlanta launches Homeschool Days virtual programs



On location Children's Museum of Atlanta activity. The following are CMA virtual offerings. Photo provided by Jennifer Kato, Brave Public Relations.

Children’s Museum of Atlanta invites the Atlanta community to take part in Homeschool Days, a series of virtual programs with a focus on math, science, language arts and social studies. Each program teaches important concepts using hands-on, at-home learning activities that homeschool students can enjoy. Perfect for kindergarten through grade four, children can get engaged at home beginning Tuesday, August 25 with a lesson in weather, including a “cloud in a cup” activity.


CMA Homeschool Days
Hands-on learning activities that kids can do at home.

On location Children’s Museum of Atlanta activity. The following are CMA virtual offerings. Photo provided by Jennifer Kato, Brave Public Relations.


August 25 at 2 p.m. – Head in the Clouds
Aspiring meteorologists will learn about the water cycle, clouds and what they mean for the weather. Kids will also get the chance to watch a real cloud form and create their own cloud in a cup!

September 15 at 2 p.m. – Building Challenge
Future engineers will have the opportunity to create something extraordinary with everyday objects they can find in their home.

October 20 at 2 p.m. – Gloopy Glop: Halloween Version
Children will conduct a hands-on experiment when they create Halloween-themed Gloopy Glop!

November 17 at 2 p.m. – Growing Vegetable Soup
Kids will dive into the book “Growing Vegetable Soup” by Lois Ehlert to learn where vegetables come from and how to grow a plant from a seed.

December 15 at 2 p.m. – Glitter Explosion
Kids can experiment with chemistry at home when they concoct this fun, glittery chemical reaction.


Entry can be purchased on the Children’s Museum of Atlanta website under the Homeschool Days program descriptions here. Tickets must be purchased in advance, no later than one day prior to the program.


For more information or to support Children’s Museum of Atlanta, visit childrensmuseumatlanta.org or call 404.659.KIDS [5437]

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