DeKalb school year to begin with virtual distance learning in mid-August

DeKalb County's new school superintendent, Cheryl Watson-Harris, said the district is taking every precaution possible to prepare for the return of school district staff this week.

"We have a mandatory mask policy and only the most essential staff will have to come in. We are asking for flexibility and patience," said Watson-Harris, during her first virtual Board of Education meeting.

According to school officials, the rising rates of COVID-19 played a key role in the decision to take a step back from in-class instruction for the district's 102,000 students and 6,600 teachers.

"We have projected, based on current figures, our risk level is substantial and that's why we are recommending a distance remote learning model to ensure the safety of our students and staff members," said Stacy Stepney, the district's Chief Academic Officer.

The district postponed the start of the semester from August 3 to August 17 and decided to reevaluate the location of instruction periodically, based on the spread of the virus.