Opening Day Comparison.jpg

In the left photo, Daughtry Elementary 4th grade teacher Stephanie Williams sits in her empty classroom on opening day 2020 as the school system began the year virtually. In the right photo, Williams and her 4th grade class this year are all smiles as they begin the new school year in class.

While the exact numbers won’t be known for a week or so, around 3,400 students had a successful first week back in class in Butts County last week. The opening day of school this year on Aug. 3 was in sharp contrast to last year, when the Butts County Board of Education delayed the start of school for three weeks to Aug. 17 and had all students attending school virtually for the first three weeks, all in response to the then-increase in COVID-19 cases in the county.

“The first week went really well,” said Superintendent Dr. Todd Simpson. “We’re very pleased with how things have gone thus far. We’ve had a good first few days and hopefully that continued. We’re just very thankful for a great start.”

Simpson said enrollment appears to be comparable to what the system has seen over the last couple of years.

“The first few days you’re trying to figure out if you have someone who is absent, is that a student who is absent or is that someone who has moved and we just don’t know it yet,” he said. “It always kind of fluctuates a lot the first 5-7 days. I’ll be eager to see what our count is over the next couple of days, if it kind of levels off a little bit.

“We don’t really have last year’s numbers to compare because it was such a unique start last year. So we’re actually trying to compare enrollment what it was the first day and first few days of two years ago. But based on what we got in the first couple of counts last week, it seems too be very comparable based on what the enrollment was the last couple of years. Based on enrollment numbers over the summer, I do think we’ll be slightly up, but I can’t say that for sure right now.”

The school system is also keeping an eye on students and teachers to see how the Delta variant of COVID-19 is affecting them and the system. The system is recommending masks be worn, but is not requiring masks as some metro Atlanta systems have done.

“Our quarantine numbers and positive case numbers have been minimal for the first week,” Simpson said. “We know that will fluctuate some as we go throughout the year. But right now we seem to be pretty healthy and things seem to be manageable.”

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Senior Reporter

I have worked for community newspapers in Butts, Henry, Newton, Rockdale, and Upson counties for 30 years. I was Editor of the Jackson Progress-Argus from 1993-1999, and returned to the Progress-Argus as Senior Reporter in 2019.

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