Fulton, Cobb schools to start school year online-only

School leaders in Fulton and Cobb counties say students will begin the 2020-2021 school year completely online.

Both districts made announcements Thursday morning that classes will be virtual learning when the school years begins on Aug. 17.

“The data and information from our health partners is overwhelming. This virus is spreading and not slowing down,” said Fulton superintendent Mike Looney. “I was hopeful the direction would change, but it is clear that we must pivot from the Face-to-Face model to the Universal Remote Learning model in order to keep our students, their families, and our staff members safe.”

Fulton and Cobb initially announced that there would be a face-to-face learning option, but that seems to have been rolled back after parents expressed frustration with the plans.

Fulton County Schools said it will continue to provide digital learning devices for students in grades 3-12, but prekindergarten through second grade will rely heavily on printed learning packets.

The district said it would also share resources with parents for how to help their student at home. 

Other changes will better support teachers and allow more access to educational resources while providing increased opportunities for professional support and sharing of best practices. Teachers will be expected to submit lesson plans for all learning activities, and this will help school leaders provide more guidance and input to teachers needing support.

“This decision has been weighing on me for a while. I know we need to get back to face-to-face instruction. That is why we tried to offer parents two options—in-person and virtual—to start the school year. Unfortunately, public health guidance does not make that possible,” said Cobb Chris Superintendent Ragsdale. “Our teachers are awesome, and they will continue to do an awesome job virtually, but nothing takes the place of in person instruction from our Cobb County teachers. I am not setting a timeline for how long our students will engage in virtual learning. We will continue to monitor the data and work with public health officials so we can open for face-to-face instruction as soon as humanly possible.”  

Fulton County had already made the decision to push back its start date a week in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cobb County previously voted to move the start date from Aug. 3 to Aug. 17.

It is unclear if online-only will last the entire year.

Cobb school leaders said they were not postponing or delaying the start of fall athletics.

"We will continue to follow the direction of GHSA. However, other extracurricular activities (ASP, after school clubs) will be suspended until after students return for face-to-face instruction," Cobb County School District said in a statement sent to FOX 5.

Other metro Atlanta school districts have announced online-only starts, including Atlanta.

For those who live in Cobb County, details for the 2020-2021 school year will continue to be found at www.cobblearningeverwhere.com