GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Gwinnett County Public Schools announced Tuesday all students will start the school year with virtual learning and students will be given the option for in-person learning at the end of August.
According to the plan, parents will be given the option between in-person and virtual learning in a staggered format.
Starting on August 26, some students will be allowed back into the classroom if they choose. All students will have the option of in-person learning by September 9.
Teachers and staff members will be back at school.
Some teachers within the district did not ask for teacher input in this decision and they're worried about their health and safety.
"You cannot recover from the grave. You can't. And that's the bottom line for me," said Samantha Mbozi, a teacher with the district.
Mbozi and other teachers are asking for students, teachers, and staff at home until it's safe for everyone to be back in the schools.
"I think we need to be able to make this work from home. We have teachers and staff who are immune-compromised and it pains me to see how devastated they are to come in the building every day. They shouldn't have to risk their lives to make sure they provide a great education for these students," said Aireane Montgomery, a teacher.
Teachers with the district went back to school last Wednesday to prepare for the start of the school year. The district now says about 260 employees who have tested positive or are quarantining due to possible exposure.
"That's just teachers. Now let's start adding students and other faculty that may have been out. Those numbers will go up. And unfortunately, I don't think teachers were at all consulted," said Dibett Lopez, a teacher.
The teachers also said the district board of education was also not consulted and there was no vote on the decision.
Anthony Driver, a teacher, said the plan leaves a lot of questions about how teachers will manage both in-person and online learning.
"Doesn't that mean a teacher will have to teach online and in-person? Doesn't that mean double the work?" Driver said.
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The superintendent sent a letter to the community and employees explaining the plan. It states there is a lot of conflicting information about the virus, but:
"We must balance that information against the concerns of parents who fear for their children’s educational progress, as well as their own employment, and need for us to bring their children back to school. At the same time, we must care for our people, many of whom have understandable concerns about returning to work when they feel the virus risk remains high for them and their families."