Unlike past Sneak-A-Peek events at elementary and middle schools, Monday’s events will be held mostly virtually due to the pandemic. High schools are holding digital learning orientation Aug. 10 and Back-to-School Bashes for ninth graders and new students Sept. 4.

As the new principal of Sweetwater Elementary School, Albert Lindsey had hoped to mingle with students and parents during the school’s open house.

However, those plans were put on hold after the school system decided to open the new year with digital-only learning amid a spike in confirmed cases of COVID-19.

When the Douglas County School System holds it annual Sneak-A-Peeks for elementary schools on Monday between 4:30 and 6 p.m., most students and their parents will be required to attend virtually. The school system said kindergartners and students new to schools may be able to attend Sneak-A-Peeks in-person, with each elementary school making that decision.

All middle schools in the county will hold their Sneak-A-Peak events on Monday and those will all be virtual, according to the school system.

High schools will hold a virtual learning orientation Aug. 10 and a Back-to-School Bash for ninth graders and other new students on Sept. 4.

The school system encourages students and parents to visit their school’s website for details and exact times.

“It will be different this year,” said Lindsey, who served as principal of Lithia Springs High for three years before moving across the street to Sweetwater.

“I’m going to miss the in-person event,” Stewart Middle Principal Donita Cullen said. “It is always a big event because I can meet the parents and they get to see the principal. It is always great to be visible and greeting the students.”

Said Lindsey: “As a new principal, you want to show that you are personable. You want to look the parents and students in the eye and show that you are there for them.”

Cullen said once students get their schedules, they will hold a Google meet for them with their individual teachers.

At a typical middle school Sneak-A-Peek event in previous years, Cullen said students could pay for their lockers and learn about the different clubs and organizations at the school.

She said that information will be relayed to students at a later date.

Schools in the county are expected to begin Aug. 17 with the first nine weeks being digital.

“I’ve been doing this for 22 years, and I’m still never able to sleep the day before it starts,” Cullen said.

Cullen’s youngest son, Jonas, will be an incoming freshman at Douglas County High. Because she worked at Douglas County High prior to being named as principal at Stewart, she knows most of the teachers.

However, she said not having an in-person event will not be that big of a problem.

“As a parent, I think I’m in a good situation,” she said. “I’ve worked at D.C., and Jonas was always around. I would have liked the opportunity to take the principal’s hat off and be the parent.”