Gwinnett County Public Schools change back-to-work plan after employee concerns

Gwinnett County Public Schools says that it is changing its plans for teachers to return to classrooms after hearing concerns from employees.

On Friday, May 1, the school system released its plan for employees to return to work after six weeks of working remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, school administrators told FOX 5 teachers were expected to return to the classroom on May 18.

An internal memo sent to employees the night before the plan was released said that "teleworking or working remotely is not an available alternative."

"I think it's another way that we're being devalued of the work that we have been putting in to support students and implies that we're not doing our jobs from home. Even with our kids here," an elementary school teacher told FOX 5 at the time.

MORE: Some Gwinnett County Public Schools teachers concerned with returning to classrooms, district responds

Wednesday, following feedback from concerned teachers and other employees, Gwinnett County school officials said that they are making immediate adjustments in order to "balance the district’s need to successfully close out the school year with the reality that many employees face personal or family situations that make it very difficult for them to return to the work site."

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"We know that our employees are eager to close out the school year strong for our students," a spokesperson for Gwinnett County Schools said in a statement. "We believe this adjusted return-to-work sites plan provides the flexibility that will allow this to happen while also addressing employees’ concerns about the health and welfare of themselves and their families.

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The new plan has teachers and other staff no longer required to report to their schools. Instead, they will work with their principal to arrange times for them to return in order to close down their classrooms and complete any other tasks which are necessary.

Principals, assistant principals, office staff, custodians, and staff in the School Nutrition Program will continue with the plan as scheduled.

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Employees who work in the Gwinnett County Public Schools Central Office will return beginning next week, with director-level positions and their administrative assistants returning Wednesday of this week.