STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – DeKalb County School District (DCSD) will begin its re-opening process on a staggered schedule Jan. 4, 2021, with staff returning to school buildings. Students in grades Pre-K, 1st, 2nd, 6th, and 9th grade will have the option to begin in-person learning on Jan. 19, 2021.
DCSD Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris and her team presented the District’s updated re-opening plan during a virtual Family Town Hall meeting on Dec. 14. Decisions have been carefully made given the magnitude of the effects of COVID-19 and school closures on teaching and learning.
The District’s decision tree has evolved based on updated guidance from the CDC. The decision tree was shared with the Medical Advisory Group, principals, staff and parents during recent meetings and town halls is a continuum aligned with the CDC’s guidance. The District will consider additional indicators identified by the CDC that include the percentage of RT-PCR tests that are positive during the last 14 days (positivity rate) and ability of the schools to implement the five key mitigation strategies and additional strategies to lower the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in schools.
The CDC’s five key mitigation strategies to further reduce the level of risk of COVID-19 introduction and transmission inside the school are:
Consistent and correct use of masks
Social distancing to the largest extent possible
Cleaning and disinfecting
Contact tracing in collaboration with DeKalb Board of Health
The District will continue to offer high-quality instruction in a concurrent learning environment. The concurrent learning environment will support students in either setting—distance/remote learning and in-person learning. Parents will have the option of continuing virtual learning or returning to face-toface.
The District will communicate with families and continue providing mental health support for staff and students as we move forward with the implementation of the return to school plan.
Phase One of the re-opening begins the week of Jan. 4-8, 2021 with faculty and staff returning, which includes teachers teaching virtually from the classroom. In Phase Two, the District will begin phasing-in students Jan. 19, 2021, the first day of the second semester. Phase Two includes students in Pre-K through second grades, sixth grade and ninth grade students. The remaining grade levels will phase-in on January 25, 2021 following a hybrid model during Phase Three of our plan.
Telework may be provided as an option for employees who qualify for an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees requesting an ADA accommodation will have a Human Resource Specialist assigned to see their application through to completion. Employees, who believe they have a medical condition that qualifies for an ADA accommodation, must complete an ADA application and provide supporting medical certification to begin the process.
The District will continuously monitor current COVID-19 data and assess the level of spread to determine if and when the current learning model should be adjusted. The next assessments will be presented during upcoming board meetings.