CAIRO — Grady County students returned to class Tuesday for the first time in six months, and campuses have taken on a much different atmosphere amid the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 1,300 students — nearly a quarter of the almost 6,000 Grady County school enrollees this year — are attending the first semester of the 2020-21 academic year virtually, according to data from the Grady County School District.

For students attending instruction in person, masks will be required during class changes or any time a student is in a crowded situation, such as on school buses. Transitions between classes during school days will also be limited.

The health precautions aren’t the only changes made this year. At Cairo High School, Cody Ray has joined on as an assistant band director, and Johnny Brown will be taking on the same role at Washington Middle School.

Joining Ray at CHS will be new business education teacher Angela Bearden, new health instructor Brandon Byram, new Crossroads instructors Thomas Daniel Joiner and Nytauja Lamoute and special education instructors Scott Marshall and Raphael Smith.

Also at Washington will be new school resource officer Anthony Mims, teachers Lincoln Dawson and Alexandria Tise and instructional assistant Destiny Tise.

New to Whigham School are English instructors Jessica Lanier and Kelsey West and instructional assistants Jennifer Brock and Mindy Harrison.

At Shiver School, new teachers Lynlee Poppell and Laura Chason will be joined by health instructor Jess Devoursney and instructional assistants Ashley Bearden and Elizabeth Kelly.

K-5 instructors Ayzia Bogan, Destiny Broome, Brittany Crocker, Shaniqua Lane and Hannah Wilde will begin at Southside Elementary, along with instructional assistants Regina Jackson and Courtney Miller.

Northside Elementary will have a new school counselor in Unetkia Sales, who will be joined alongside K-5 instructors Heather Cato and Samantha Dean and health instructor Daniel Coleman.

Beginning at Eastside Elementary this year will be teachers Selea Devalle, Barbara Douglas and Michelle Poitevint, along with ESOL instructor Ellen Register and instructional assistants Danteria Hart and Sandy Matias.

James Dudley will be joining the school district as an alternative school instructor, while Diane Maxwell and Hanna Nix take on positions in the district’s central office.

Steve Clark, Marlis Fewell and Shanquera Troutman join on this year as bus drivers.

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