Parents, teachers conflicted over Atlanta Schools' Phase 2 reopening plan

The Atlanta Public School Board held a virtual meeting Monday night to discuss the Phase 2 reopening plan which includes bringing some students back into the classroom for face-to-face learning as early as Oct. 26.  

Since the beginning of the semester, all students have been learning virtually. 

Friday, Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring told FOX 5's Aungelique Proctor that her decisions will be driven by scientific data.

Herring proposed allowing all elementary students to return to the classroom on Oct. 26.  Her initial proposal was Pre-K to second graders but changed to Pre-K to fifth graders.

Several teachers expressed outrage at the last-minute change that all elementary students would be allowed to return. 

“Our concern is that we are not ready to open up,” said Georgia Teacher Federation President Verdaillia Turner.

On the other side of the debate, parent Kacie Brown started a group on Facebook called Let Atlanta Parents Choose. Brown says the group has 1300 members and put up an electronic billboard and yard signs asking the superintendent to reopen schools. 

"We are all in this together. There should not be any conversation like Black versus white or North versus South, Brown said. I have heard Dr. Herring and the board report that COVID affects different races differently and I want to respect that. I also want to continue the conversation across the entire city. We need to focus on finding a way to get these kids back into the classroom that works for everybody."

During the public comment period, parents and community members had two minutes to speak directly to the board.  

“From an APS student, I don’t want to die,” said one speaker  

“You are never going to make everyone happy but the divide this has created in the community is devastating,” said another speaker.  

The district has also been soliciting feedback from parents about whether they intend to send their child back into the classroom. Phase 2 specifies will also allow students who participate in certain special education classes to be eligible to go back to classrooms.  

“Open or close … live or die,” said Turner. “That is what we are asking the Atlanta Public School Board to make.”

Parents have until Oct. 22 to complete the survey, otherwise, students will remain in their virtual classroom for the next nine weeks.