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School assignments to end May 1; grading system revealed
Effingham County Schools
Randy Shearouse
Superintendent Dr. Randy Shearouse - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

SPRINGFIELD -- Superintendent Dr. Randy Shearouse notified parents Monday evening about their students' final assignments of the 2019-20 school year, which was interrupted last month by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Never in a million years would I have imagined that we would be in the position we are in today," Shearouse said in an email. "I started my career in 1988, and for the past 32 years, the school year has always come to a close in the traditional way. Now, our daily lives have been turned on a dime with the onset of a virus previously unknown to any of us."

Gov. Brian Kemp ordered Georgia public schools closed on March 13. A few days later, he announced that they would stay closed for the rest of the current school year, which was set to end May 22.

Students have been given online assignments for four weeks. The last group of assignments will be made by May 1 and students will have until May 15 to complete them.

"These additional weeks will allow time for students to complete any assignment they may be missing or have failed to return," Shearouse said. "It will also allow teachers and administrators an opportunity to work with students experiencing difficulty or who are at risk of failure."

According to Shearouse's message, final grades will be completed by calculating a student's COVID-19 average (i.e. the average of the first three nine-week grading periods) and then adding a half point for each of the 10 assignments given over the five-week period since schools were closed. For example, a student who completes all 10 assignments per class for the last five-week period will receive five additional points to their COVID-19 average.

As a result, final assignments given over the last five weeks can only enhance a student's grade.

"I strongly encourage students to take advantage of the next several weeks to complete their assignments," Shearouse said.

Shearouse said elementary instructional supervisors are conversing as they collect feedback and look through data from the first three nine-week grading periods to collaboratively make decisions for promotion or retention concerning kindergarten. Since kindergarten grades are standards-based, efforts are being made to mirror the grading guidance provided to teachers for grades 1-12 while taking into consideration age-developmental appropriateness.

The pre-K classes continue to work toward kindergarten readiness.

"I was encouraged Sunday morning when I read about a 94-year-old gentleman wjo fought in (World War II)  and endured many hardships along the way," Shearouse wrote in closing. "He encouraged all of us to look at the glass half-full instead of half-empty and to lend a helping hand to others in need along the way. I encourage everyone to use this experience to become a better person, make a difference in the world and never let a hardship or difficulty rob you of happiness."