ATLANTA - The youngest group of students attending Atlanta Public Schools will be able to go back to the classroom for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Students in Pre-K through second grade and special education students opting for face-to-face instruction will have the option starting Monday.
But the "return to learn" plan, which had already been delayed from a start in 2020, is being slowed to allow the district more time to intensify and add to its current mitigation strategies.
"We will continue to work proactively to keep our students and staff safe in this COVID-19 environment by focusing on how we mitigate for all safety and health risks," APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring said in an earlier meeting.
Students will be in class four days a week with Wednesday remaining virtual.
Children in grades three through five at set to return Monday, Feb. 8, and students in grades six through 12 will be expected back on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
"The phase-in approach includes teacher preparation days and phasing in elementary students first followed by second students," Herring said.
These in-person classes remain voluntary at this time with any parents uncomfortable sending their children into classrooms able to continue virtual learning.
Last week, teachers and staff returned following strict guidelines including required screening measures, temperature assessments, use of masks and face shields, social distancing, and other hygiene and cleaning procedures. The district is also providing PPE for students and employees to use when inside buildings.
Still, some teachers say that they are concerned about returning to classrooms with the pandemic not over.
"I'm feeling quite nervous. I'm nervous for not only my own health but also for our students," teacher Tracey Pendley told FOX 5.
The district is allowing teachers to make requests to work from home, but so far only 10% of those requests have been approved.
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