Due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, Grayson County Schools has announced that the first day of the 2020-2021 school year has been pushed back to Aug. 24.

During a special called meeting of the Grayson County School Board, the 2020-2021 school year calendar was amended to delay the first day of school for students to Aug. 24. The amended calendar currently has the final day for students set for May 21, 2021.

Grayson County Schools Superintendent Doug Robinson said that, regardless of the status of the coronavirus, the school year will begin on Aug. 24; however, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state guidelines will determine whether the district can hold in-person classes on that date.

Provided Grayson County Schools is permitted to hold classes in person, the district plans to begin its three-week A/B schedule for students who have been signed up for in-person education; however, public health considerations closer to the opening date may require the schools to have all students begin on Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI).

According to Robinson, the school district's plans for returning to school, which have been approved by the Grayson County Health Department, will require students and staff to have their temperatures taken each day before entering the building. All parents/guardians will also be required to sign a letter of commitment at the start of the school year stating that they will not send their child to school if he or she has a fever.

Anyone with a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees will not be permitted in school that day, so officials are asking parents to check their child's temperature before dropping them off at school if possible.

Students who ride a bus will be assigned a seat each day and must wear a mask if social distancing is not possible. Students with a temperature who have already been dropped off at school will be taken to the nurse's office and isolated until a parent or guardian can pick them up.

Masks must also be worn in school all day when social distancing of at least six feet is not possible.

Robinson said this will be "non-negotiable," unless a student has a medical reason for not being able to wear a mask, and these students must have a doctor's note excusing them from wearing a mask.

At the middle school and elementary school levels, students will remain in one classroom if possible, and their teachers will move from classroom to classroom; however, Robinson said this is not possible at the high school level.

The school district also permitted all students to be educated entirely through virtual means this year in response to the coronavirus, and, according to Robinson, as of Monday, 24 percent of students had been signed up for this option.

At the high school and middle school level, students signed up for virtual learning will use a program called Edgenuity, and students at the elementary school level will use Odysseyware.

Grayson County Schools is, for most cases, asking that students commit to either in-person/NTI or virtual learning for one full grading period; however, Robinson said Tuesday that the district will review requests on a case-by-case basis should someone wish to change their choice.

Robinson admitted Tuesday that he believes it will be a "long shot" for the schools to get back into face-to-face learning in the near future, even with A/B scheduling, but, nevertheless, the school year will begin on Aug. 24.

For the latest updates on Grayson County Schools, visit graysoncountyschools.com or follow the school district on social media by searching for Grayson County Schools. Anyone with questions is also encouraged to call the Grayson County Board of Education at 270-259-4011.