DHS events canceled due to COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Last updated: 5:20 p.m. on March 12

UPDATE: School has been canceled indefinitely starting March 13. Read more about the school closure here.

On the morning of March 12, City Schools of Decatur (CSD) sent out an update email on policies concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, the new coronavirus that appeared in 2019. According to CSD’s email, schools will remain open, but large gatherings have been limited.

Athletic events have been limited to games “that pertain to state qualifying,” and those games are limited to players and staff only; no fans may be admitted. Games with opponents from schools with presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and away games at schools not following “procedures similar to those above” will be canceled.

Prior to the update, Decatur High School (DHS) tennis, baseball, soccer and golf had matches canceled due to COVID-19. Those matches were against Fulton County Schools, which were closed after an employee tested positive for the disease.

All off-campus practices for track have been canceled, though the track meet this weekend has not. Literary team has also canceled practice but has not received word of any action being taken concerning their state competition on March 21.

The email from CSD also stated that “out-of-country and out-of-state field trips and travel for students and staff” are canceled, and only local field trips involving a single class and “limited interaction with others” are permitted. For instance, Junior Classical League members can no longer attend the Latin Convention taking place at Rock Eagle in mid-April.

The spring musical, “42nd Street,” which was set to open on March 13 and run through March 22, has been canceled. More details on the cancellation are below.

The closing of universities across the country due to COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of extracurricular competitions, too. The National High School Ethics Bowl competition scheduled to take place at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill) from April 17-19 which the Decatur team qualified for has been canceled due to the closure of UNC Chapel Hill. The Science Olympiad state competition which Decatur also qualified for which was scheduled to take place at Emory University on April 4 has been canceled due to the closure of Emory. Model United Nations (Model UN) was scheduled to attend a conference at Emory on March 22 and planned to host a conference at DHS. No official cancellation has been issued for either event, but according to members, it is likely that these events will be canceled.

DHS band was set to attend the Large Group Performance Evaluation (LGPE) on the evening of March 12, but it has since been canceled.

Winter Guard’s remaining competitions on March 14 and March 28-29 have been canceled, as the Southern Association of Performance Arts has canceled all future competitive events.

Mock Trial’s state competition on March 21 and 22 which Decatur qualified for was also canceled.

Robotics’ district competition the weekend of March 21 which is state-qualifying has been canceled, as have all other Georgia district competitions across the state. The state championship has also been canceled.

CSD is accepting questions about COVID-19 and the district’s response at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfiIunelTZKPeO9LisPRGYYsrkqN-_BNWY4Kz3lpCQmAfNp4A/viewform. Further updates on district-wide policies are available on CSD’s COVID-19 information page.

Spring musical “42nd Street” canceled

The DHS spring musical “42nd Street” which was set to open this Friday has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The spring musical was set to open on March 13 and run through March 22.

While CSD does not have plans to close schools as of now, the district will be limiting large gatherings, such as 42nd Street, in hopes of minimizing spread of the disease.

“We recognize that while this is a difficult decision, it is the right decision to ensure the safety of our kids and our audience members,” Decatur Performs, the nonprofit that benefits DHS chorus, drama and musical theater, stated.

As a result, DHS will not be eligible to receive a Shuler Award. Shuler awards are granted to high school musical productions deemed excellent and qualify the winning school for the National High School Musical Awards. Other schools across the state, such as Milton High School, have also canceled shows eligible for a Shuler Award. DHS planned to hold a Sunday production of “42nd Street” only available to Shuler judges to combat this, but the Sunday show was later canceled.

The announcement came on Thursday afternoon following the cancellations of other athletic and community events districtwide. Students involved in the musical were invited to the Student Center during Learning Connection on Thursday.

Ticket holders can designate their tickets as donations to offset costs already incurred, credit for tickets can be transferred to future shows or refunds are available.

“We are exploring alternatives including rescheduling performances (if possible), but this is all dependent on the rapidly changing information and guidelines,” Decatur Performs stated.

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Updates from City Schools of Decatur

City Schools of Decatur institutes new procedures in lieu of COVID-19 outbreaks.

As of 9:49 a.m. on Mar. 12, City Schools of Decatur (CSD) announced via an email that they are not closing schools because of COVID-19 but are limiting large gatherings. 

The district said that it is possible schools would need to be closed in the future, but that it would be “premature to close schools” at this time. However, they have been instituting measures to ensure the most effective plan of action possible for academics in the event of a mandatory closure. 

The past two days students have been urged to fill out a survey emailed to them about their access to technology and Wifi services at home as well as how comfortable they are using online schooling services such as Managebac and Google Classroom.

Principal Wesley Hatfield said that students who do not have a computer at home will be receiving one today or tomorrow from CSD.

The district also asks parents to begin to prepare for any organizational challenges they would need to take care of in case schools closed. They remind parents that daycares, before and after school programs and extracurricular activities will all be cancelled in the event schools are closed and they encourage parents to make other plans as soon as possible. 

“If there comes a time when we have a case of COVID-19 within our school population, we will follow CDC guidelines in determining closures. Depending on the specifics of the case, this may include requiring a small number of students and/or staff to self-quarantine at home, or it may require us to close a specific school for a day or two to complete a sanitizing cleaning,” the CSD district said in an email. 

In the event that the students need to stay home from school due to COVID-19 and schools are not officially closed, they will follow the following attendance procedures:

  • If the student is ill or is medically vulnerable, the absence will be excused in accordance with our standard attendance procedures (which include medical documentation for extended absences).
  • If the student is not ill, but is under a quarantine issued by appropriate government authorities, the absence will be excused with written documentation from that authority. Such documentation must be provided to the school as soon as possible, preferably prior to the student’s absence.
  • If the student is not ill, but lives with an individual who is recommended to self-quarantine (such as those over 60, those with compromised immune systems, etc.) and the family wishes to extend that self-quarantine to the student to protect the health of the family member, the absence will be excused with written confirmation of the living arrangement and reason for self-quarantine. Such written confirmation must be provided to the school as soon as possible, preferably prior to the student’s absence.
  • If the student is not ill, and there is not an individual in the household under quarantine (as specified above), the absence will be unexcused in accordance with our standard attendance procedures.
  • In the four situations described above, we are generally unable to provide educational enrichment since teachers will still be providing educational services to the students in school.
  • It is CSD’s expectation that students under family-directed quarantine are excluding themselves from all in-person CSD-related activities (i.e. not only from school, but also from field trips, sporting events, club activities, prom, etc.) until such time as the current health concerns diminish.

All athletic events will be handled in the following ways: 

  1. Only games that pertain to state qualifying will be played at this time.
  2. All DHS practice scheduled for off-campus venues will be moved or postponed.
  3. Those games that are still held will be limited to players and staff only. Fans (including parents and other students) will not be admitted.
  4. Games that involve opponents from a school with presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 will be cancelled.
  5. Away games against opponents that are not following procedures similar to those above will be canceled.

Lunch procedures are also being monitored and will be changed based on a situational basis. One of the options considered is to have students eat in the classrooms and purchase school lunch from the lunchroom on a staggered basis.

Hatfield amended that starting tomorrow students will he asked to wash their hands before entering the cafeteria.

For students experiencing food insecurity, CSD is working on plans that could potentially mitigate the effects such as plans to pick up sack lunches or breakfasts directly from the school. However, CSD recognizes that there needs to be more government regulation and approval before any possible food plans could be instituted. 

All field trips, outside of small walking ones, are now cancelled until further notice. 

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) said they would notify CSD if staff or students test positive for Covid-19. CSD asks that you communicate with the administration at your school if your child is being tested for COVID-19. 

For now, CSD recommends that students follow these guidelines suggested by the DPH:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home when you are sick. CSD requires keeping students home until they are 24 hours fever-free without medication. Contact your physician for guidance.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash and then wash your hands. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Do your best to stay calm.
  • Consistent with our standard practices, be aware that if your child becomes ill at school and needs to be picked up, we request that the student be picked up within 1 hour of notification.
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