OCONEE COUNTY, Ga. — Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has decided to close all public schools along with colleges and technical schools until April, at the earliest.
"To keep our students, teachers, and administrators safe and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, I am ordering the closure of all public elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools in Georgia from March 18, 2020 to March 31, 2020," Governor Kemp said in a statement emailed from his office Monday evening.
“This measure is critical to reducing local transmission in communities across our state, and I ask Georgians to continue to follow best practices - washing their hands regularly, isolating the elderly and chronically ill, and avoiding large events if possible - in the days and weeks ahead," the statement said.
Most pre-K through 12 schools had already closed. So on Monday, millions of parents across the state were already supervising their children’s education at home, including parents who are also trying to figure out how to work their full-time jobs, somehow.
Parents’ know their new job is to bear the burdens of all this, so the kids can be relatively carefree school children, despite it all. That is: “at home” school children.
“It’s a little worrisome,” said Lisa Schueneman Monday, standing with her family outside their home in Oconee County. “We don’t know what to expect as far as, what’s coming next. So I think the unknown is a little hard, but we’re just making the best of it.”
Children adjusting to tough, online lessons
Lisa and Byron Schueneman are parents of four Oconee County Elementary School students: Cadence, Ashlyn, Dominic and Emerson, along with Colbie, who just turned 11 months.
Lisa is a professional photographer, and Byron works for a public school system in accounting and business services. They are working out their work schedules between them, so they can be home to supervise everyone through rigorous, online lessons, which are designed by the children’s teachers. The work can take hours to complete. The children are doing the work on Chromebooks provided by Oconee County Elementary School.
“They emailed their teachers a few questions that they had, and they got replies really quickly from them,” Lisa said of the children’s first day of doing their assignments at home.
“We played games in between, and kind of let them run around, to keep them from getting too stir-crazy," she said.
The children are adjusting and taking the long view of all of this.
“Well, I hope that it doesn’t happen again because I don’t like people getting sick, and sickness that can harm them,” Ashlyn said. “But when I’m older I hope that I can remember that I still got my work done.”
“We all are getting our work done in a short amount of time,” Dominic said. “It’s actually working out pretty nice.”
Dominic didn’t even have to skip his piano lesson. He and his teacher did it on FaceTime, at their normal, after-school time.
So, day one is in the books.
“They were really good, just about jumping in and doing what they were supposed to be doing,” Lisa said.
For the children, it’s no vacation, but being at home provides a sense of safety from the outside world.
And the grownups are bearing the burdens, figuring it all out as they go to make it all work, as best they can.