Decision to phase students back to in-person learning in Gwinnett has teachers, parents concerned

The Gwinnett County School District will start phasing students back to the classroom next week. It has parents and teachers divided over whether it's too soon to make that move.

Gwinnett County Public Schools began this school year with all students learning online. Starting next Wednesday, different grade levels will start transitioning back for in person learning.

"A lot of students struggled with how they were going to engage with their peers, teachers, especially given the language barriers," said Anthony Downer, Gwinnett Teacher.

Gwinnett County teachers Anthony Downer and Aireane Montgomery are the first to admit, digital learning has presented challenges, and they say it doesn't work for every student.

"Our students do want to be back in the building," said Montgomery.

They're among some parents and other teachers who are concerned about students gradually coming back to school next week.

"There is not a concise answer. There is not a clear answer. There's nothing backed up with scientific evidence to really say that these students are going to be protected," said Montgomery.

Thursday's Board of Education meeting showed just how divisive the issue is. But the board is not changing course. Starting next Wednesday, kindergarten, first, sixth, and ninth graders who choose in person learning will go back to school.

"We do not have the ability, and I'm not taking the risk by giving them handouts or giving them physical materials. There will not be hands-on activities," explained Downer.

Gwinnett School Officials say their plan is fluid and could change based on COVID-19. The District may slow down the phased-in return, but it's not a comfort to these outspoken teachers.

"It is angering. It is disheartening. I feel really dejected that our county is moving in such a non-nonsensical fashion," said Downer.