City Schools of Decatur announced plans Sept. 18 to begin transitioning all employees to working in schools by Oct. 12 and all students by the end of November, though parents and guardians will have the option to continue virtual learning for their children.
The “CSD Roadmap to In-person Learning” states that Early Childhood Learning Center and Frasier Birth-3 students and students with IEPs served in the adapted curriculum program will return to in-person learning starting Oct. 12.
Beginning Nov. 2, other students will beginning returning to in-person learning through phases based on grade levels, the district stated.
“We are monitoring multiple community health indicators in anticipation of a return to school, which for most students will not be until November,” the district stated. “If the data suggest it is unsafe to return to (or remain in) school, we will adjust our plans accordingly.
According to the statement, several COVID-19 related safety precautions will be in place in the district’s buildings including mandatory masks for all staff and students, frequent handwashing and respiratory etiquette, random temperature checks, social distancing to the extent possible, ongoing cleaning and disinfecting regimen of CSD facilities, cold plasma air filtration at all school buildings, and contact tracing in collaboration with the local health department.
The district administered an electronic survey to more than 10,000 parent/guardians, teachers/staff, and sixth-12th graders to gauge feedback on returning to in-person learning.
According to survey results, approximately 63 percent of teachers responded that they were “very concerned” and 22 percent “somewhat concerned” to transition to hybrid or full in-person teaching before mid-December. Only 32 percent of parents responded that they are “very unlikely” and 16 percent “somewhat likely” to opt in to keeping their child in virtual learning.
Overall, most survey respondents—about 65 percent—feel that virtual learning is not as valuable as in-person learning.
While the district states it will continue monitoring data and recommendations from the CDC, plans for in-person instruction will be adjusted if needed.
As of Sept. 18, DeKalb County was classified in CDC’s “higher risk” category with a rate of 117 cases per 100,000 persons and had a seven-day average of 4 percent positive COVID-19 tests.
“These values have dropped over the last several weeks. If community mitigation measures continue with fidelity, they are likely to continue to drop,” the district stated. “We are ready to implement all five of the key mitigation strategies recommended by the CDC.
“We are also shifting the days missed from the canceled fall break to December. Students will begin their Holiday Break on December 14.”