Atlanta Public Schools proposes virtual learning, start date delay

Atlanta Public School students will be starting the new school year in August virtually, education officials announced.

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring said on Twitter that she would be recommending that APS starts school on Aug. 24 virtually, with the weeks leading up to that date as a "runway for return to learning" and pre-planning sessions. That is a two-week delay from the usual start of the year.

Herring, who was hired to replace outgoing superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen in May, announced that she will present the details of the upcoming school year at a school board meeting on Facebook Live Monday afternoon.

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The school system's plan will have virtual learning for all students for at least the first nine weeks of school or until health officials have determined that the spread of COVID-19 has become minimal or moderate.

In the two weeks before the start date, school officials will work to connect with families, teachers, and students to assess access to technology, provide additional resources, and offer support for students.

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The new proposal comes after school officials say 72% of teachers said they were uncomfortable returning to work in person at this time. According to APS, 45% of both teachers and bus drivers are at "high risk" for COVID-19.

Inside APS buildings, students and staff will be required to wear masks, which the district plans to distribute to all employees who need them before work restarts. The district is also planning to provide hand sanitizer, thermometers, and gloves, as well as guidance on how to use the PPE. 

Distribution of school meals, both breakfast and lunch, will begin weekly starting on Aug. 10.

The change would have to be approved by the Atlanta School Board, which would reduce instructional days to 170 for the year.

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