Marietta schools begin virtual learning

More students are going back to school this week. Marietta City Schools are starting school on Tuesday with virtual learning. Superintendent Grant Rivera said the district had planned to give parents the option of either virtual or in-person learning. As the summer went on, Rivera said they couldn't effectively do things like contact tracing.

It's a school year unlike any other, and parents and students are finding ways to adapt to it.

"My daughter is getting ready for the all virtual school, and today has been kind of collecting all of her emails, and welcome emails," said Melissa Foiles, a Marietta parent.

Foiles has a senior at Marietta City Schools who is among the 9,000 other students going back to school online.

"I think honestly for all of us we want in-person. I mean, we want everything to go back to normal," explained Foiles, "But right now just because of the spikes, I think there's disappointment all around."

School districts across metro Atlanta had to make tough choices about how to bring students back to school this year.

"What we learned mid-July based on the trend of COVID numbers with the Department of Public Health is that we had a real concern around testing, contact tracing, and case investigation," said Rivera.

Superintendent Rivera said not ever parent is happy about the decision, but said ultimately it came down to safety.

"It's really more about safety for our staff. When you think about high-risk categories and those that are contracting the virus and the risk of spread," said Rivera.

Rivera encourages parents to look for communication from their kid's teachers and make sure their kids know how to use the online platform.

"This next week will really be about our district welcoming our kids back," explained Rivera, "There is intentional focus on the social and emotional learning. We're starting with the kid, not the content."

Rivera said there will be some face-to-face interaction through tutoring. The district is also helping parents who need childcare, and they're continuing their meal program to keep students fed.

As far as how long the district will use the virtual model will depend on COVID-19 case numbers.