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Public health liaison appointed for Georgia K-12 schools amid COVID-19
Image by F1 Digitals from Pixabay

By Beau Evans

Capitol Beat News Service

A longtime Georgia educator has been appointed to work with local school districts on public-health issues as students resume in-person and online classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Garry McGiboney, a certified psychologist with decades of experience in public education, will serve as the new public-health liaison at the state Department of Education.

He will act as a point of contact for local districts to address public-health issues and keep communication flowing between districts and state school officials, the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.

McGiboney, who previously served as state deputy superintendent for school climate and safety, looks to fill a key advisory position as Georgia’s roughly 2,300 schools weigh how to create safe learning environments for students and teachers during the pandemic.

He is poised to work with local districts and health officials on boosting COVID-19 tests, contact tracing, data collection and reporting. He will also coordinate with emergency management officials on distributing safety equipment and supplies to schools.

“This position will ensure they have strong lines of communication to state and local public health officials, and the best possible guidance and support to safeguard the health of students and staff,” said State School Superintendent Richard Woods.

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Many Georgia students began returning to in-person classes this month for the 2020-21 school year, following statewide school closures in March that prompted students to complete spring-semester courses online.

As the fall semester kicks off, state officials have left it to local school districts whether to hold classes in person or start off with virtual learning. Some schools recently paused in-person classes after outbreaks of COVID-19 positive cases.

McGiboney, who has authored several books and scholarly articles on public education, previously oversaw efforts to create safe and comfortable learning environments in Georgia schools. He earned doctorate degrees in psychology and educational administration from Georgia State University.