District launches task force to guide reopening

  • Putnam County School District headquarters
    Putnam County School District headquarters

The Putnam County School District is asking for the community’s input regarding how it should operate during the 2020-2021 school year if local campuses are allowed to reopen.

Superintendent Rick Surrency has created a School Reopening Task Force, which he said will be comprised of about 20 Putnam County residents.

“These are unprecedented times and we may very well be called upon to make decisions locally that will affect the entire community,” Surrency said. “We have to ensure that we have carefully considered all of the available dynamics of each possible scenario and the impacts they will have on the families of our community and make the best decisions possible for all involved.”

According to Surrency, the group will be organized by Thomas Bolling, associate superintendent for support services. Surrency said he is confident in Bolling’s ability to gauge the needs of Putnam County and make appropriate recommendations for how the school district should proceed in regard to reopening.

“Mr. Bolling is very knowledgeable about the operations of the school district and the community as a whole,” Surrency said. “He has the resources and is a tremendous leader.”

In addition to organizing the committee, Bolling is also in charge of picking its members.

Bolling said members will include health care professionals, parents, teachers and people of influence. He said he wants to ensure the group is diverse and representative of the county as a whole.

“We want people from all walks of life because what we do will affect everybody,” Bolling said.

According to Bolling, the first meeting hasn’t been scheduled yet but he plans to have it sometime in early June. He said the task force will have a series of meetings from then until August, with the group making reopening recommendations to the superintendent after the meetings.

“We will come together and try to come to a group consensus through a vote on whatever the topic is that day,” Bolling said.

The school district has been participating in distance learning since March 30. Surrency said online classes have been a success, with the school district loaning more than 7,000 laptops to students and establishing agreements with local businesses so students have free internet access.

“Considering the circumstances, I think this has been a reasonable alternative,” Surrency said. “… Nothing replaces students and teachers being together but this has been the best possible option, and I am grateful we had the resources to help our students continue their education.”

For more information, visit putnamschools.org or call 329-0554.