DeKalb County superintendent welcomes students, tours schools as in-person learning resumes

Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris

DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb County school district on March 9, 2021 opened its doors to students for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris welcomed families back into the building.

“I remain enthusiastic about this school year, enthusiastic for both our scholars reentering schools, as well as those who will remain in a virtual setting,” she said in a letter to the community. “Despite COVID-19 challenges, my staff and I are committed to providing a successful and high quality educational experience for our students and their families.”

WSB-TV reports that Watson-Harris visited schools on March 9 to see how things were going.

“Our scholars that are back today, this is just a dream come true, and we’re working to keep them safe, keep them engaged, keep joyful about their learning,” Watson-Harris told WSB-TV.

Students are on a hybrid schedule and can continue learning virtually if that’s what parents choose. Pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, sixth grade, and ninth-grade students began in-person learning on Tuesday, March 9.  Grade levels third, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth will start on Monday, March 15, 2021.

The return has been controversial. The school district has faced protests from parents and teachers. Vaccines weren’t available to teachers until March 8. It is not yet known if there are any COVID-19 exposures as a result of reopening. To see the current COVID-19 data for the district, click here.

Here’s the superintendent’s letter to families:

Dear DeKalb County School Family,

I am thrilled to welcome back our scholars into our schoolhouses for face-to-face learning after one year of being apart. I remain enthusiastic about this school year, enthusiastic for both our scholars reentering schools, as well as those who will remain in a virtual setting. Despite COVID-19 challenges, my staff and I are committed to providing a successful and high quality educational experience for our students and their families.

While education has evolved and learning is being reinvented, we will continue to make safety our number one priority. Again, it is critical that our students follow mitigation strategies outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure that our school community is safe. Please read here how we are Keeping DCSD Safe from physically distancing to hand washing. This information can also be found on our Reopening Page, along with other translations and resources such as bus routes. Thank you for encouraging our students to follow COVID-19 related safety protocols such as wearing masks, which is mandatory in schools, and keeping your children at home when they are not feeling well.

Forging a strong relationship between our families and students ensures student performance and academic growth. Some of our students experienced learning loss during the pandemic and DCSD is committed to addressing achievement gaps that will allow all of our students to develop academically and socially. Please connect with your child’s school for support regarding any challenges, academic or social-emotional, your child may have experienced during the pandemic.

I am so grateful for families who make a difference in the lives of their children and our school community each and everyday. Together, I am confident we will continue to rise as a district and our students will soar. Kind regards,

Mrs. Cheryl Watson-Harris

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