Stone Mountain, GA — The DeKalb County School District on Feb. 23 set a return date for students who have been learning virtually since last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
DeKalb County School Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris made the announcement during her Feb. 23 “State of the District” speech.
According to the School District, cohorts of students will participate in hybrid, in-person learning based on whether they want to attend school.
“Prekindergarten, Kindergarten, first grade, second grade, sixth grade, and ninth-grade students will begin in-person learning on Tuesday, March 9, 2021,” the district announced. “Grade levels third, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, 10th, 11th, and 12th will start on Monday, March 15, 2021.”
Watson-Harris said the school district is ready to serve students. Teachers and other staff have been in the building since Feb. 3. It’s a move that sparked opposition from parents and teachers who feel it’s not currently safe to resume in-person learning.
Citing collaboration with the district’s medical advisory board, and guidance released by the CDC on Dec. 29, Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris defended the decision at the DCSD Board of Education meeting on Feb. 8.
Teachers currently are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I am excited about the return to face-to-face instruction,” Superintendent Watson-Harris said in a press release. “This has been a tough, but necessary decision. We will continue to make the safety of our scholars and staff our number one priority and soar together.”
Here’s the full announcement from DeKalb County Schools:
Stone Mountain, GA – At tonight’s “State of the District” address, DeKalb County School District (DCSD) will announce their plans for students to begin returning to classrooms under Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. In Phase Two and Phase Three, cohorts of students will participate in hybrid, in-person learning based on their choice to attend school. Pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, sixth grade, and ninth-grade students will begin in-person learning on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Grade levels third, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, 10th, 11th, and 12th will start on Monday, March 15, 2021, during Phase Three.
“I am excited about the return to face-to-face instruction,” Superintendent Watson-Harris said. “This has been a tough, but necessary decision. We will continue to make the safety of our scholars and staff our number one priority and soar together.”
Schools will organize all classes into two cohorts based on last name and/or instructional program to adhere to social/physical distancing requirements, facilitate testing and contact tracing, and minimize transmission across cohorts.
“Superintendent Watson-Harris will effectively outline the impact of COVID-19 as well as the goals of the district,” said DeKalb Board of Education Chair Mrs. Vickie Turner. “I am grateful for the very diligent and thoughtful work that has been demonstrated by this staff along with the leadership team. It goes without question, virtual learning has presented some serious challenges to our students, our families and our staff. The superintendent is to be commended for facing those challenges head on and coming up with viable solutions that will ultimately benefit our students. As we move forward with the hybrid plan and re-opening of schools, we will follow every evidence-based recommendation to keep our teachers and students safe.”
“Superintendent Watson-Harris has worked tirelessly to lead the school district through the pandemic and continues to improve the District,” said DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond. “DeKalb Government supports her efforts to eliminate barriers to success so that our students will continue to excel.”
More information on our reopening plan can be found at https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/school-reopening/. To watch the State of District event-themed “Elevating the DCSD experience to a new standard of excellence,” click here https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/communications/dstv/.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect date. This story has been updated with the correct information.
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