DeKalb County school officials postpone in-person instruction

DeKalb County School Superintendent Cheryl Watson Harris said the spike in cases and elevated positivity rate of COVID-19 in the county are just two reasons why she decided to postpone a return to in-person instruction.

"My responsibility is to make sure we are doing what's best for all of the students," said Watson Harris.

Students in DeKalb County haven't had class face-to-face since the coronavirus pandemic forced the state to close schools to slow the spread of the deadly respiratory virus. Watson Harris said about 60% of parents have indicated they prefer virtual learning; which leaves 40% of parents frustrated. The superintendent said she understands their frustration, but believes public health takes a priority given the rate of community spread.

"We are striving and do everything we can to get our children back to a face-to-face experience for families who want that as an option. We will only do that when we can ensure that we can do that safely," the superintendent told FOX 5's Portia Bruner on Tuesday.

Watson Harris, who took the job in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, said she, the school board, and a panel of health experts also had to consider the concerns of teachers.

"We know and respect there are a lot of opinions around this. But we also had a number of teachers who were not ready and expressed real fears and concerns," said Watson Harris.

The school district will now shoot for February 3 as a return date for teachers with students having the option to return in mid-February. But Watson Harris added the positivity rate must be at ten percent or below. As of Tuesday, it was almost 15 percent.

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