ATLANTA - There is no doubt that COVID-19 is on the rise in Georgia. In DeKalb County alone, there have been more than 27,000 confirmed cases, according to state health officials. The rate of cases is on the rise as well. That is something the DeKalb County School Board COVID Task Force kept in mind as they met on Monday to decide if classes should remain completely virtual for the spring 2021 semester.
During a three hour virtual hearing, school board members heard and saw the data and recommend the county schools remain virtual through the end of the school year. The board added that the spread on the community level was just too high at the moment.
Sunday, more than 100 parents and students took to Piedmont Park to rally for the Atlanta and DeKalb County to reopen face-to-face learning.
They stood along the streets armed with signs, chanting to be given an option for face-to-face learning. Many saying virtual learning has hurt their children, not to mention the impact it has had on families with working parents.
The Committee for APS Progress is asking school districts to give parents the option of going back, which is what several public school districts in the metro area have done including Gwinnett, Cobb, and Fulton counties.
Last week, Atlanta Public Schools released more information about their plans to reopen school to in-person learning.
Just like APS, DeKalb County Schools have been virtual since the start of the school year. The next steps include meeting with an advisory board, watching those numbers, and holding a number of town halls in the coming weeks for public input. Officials said they are planning to return to face-to-face learning at some point.
Meanwhile, other school districts in the state are shift gears, heading back into mostly virtual learning.
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On Monday, the 3,500-student McDuffie County school district in eastern Georgia sent all its in-person students home because of the increasing cases, citing “a significant number of students and staff in quarantine, an excessive number of students absent, and a concerning number of pupils sent home ill today.”
In northwest Georgia, the 7,000-student Murray County system sent all its middle and high school students home last week to learn virtually for the remainder of class days this month. Superintendent Steve Loughridge told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that increasing infections had sent at least 22 staff members into isolation or quarantine as of last Wednesday, as well as more than 275 students.
“We were having a hard time covering for classrooms because teachers were quarantined and subs are like a white elephant,” Loughridge said. “You can’t get subs.”
The Richmond County school system sent students at four Augusta-area schools home on Monday, although all are supposed to return for at least one in-person day before Christmas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report