STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – DeKalb County School District Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris and her team presented the District’s updated re-opening plan during the Sept. 14 Board of Education meeting. Decisions have been carefully considered given the magnitude of COVID-19 and school closures since March 16, 2020.
The District previously delayed start of the 2020-21 school year and opened schools with a virtual learning model to account for substantial community spread of COVID-19. The current re-opening plan calls for a learning model to match the associated disease spread in the community. With low or no spread, a traditional model will be used. With minimal or moderate spread, either traditional, hybrid or virtual learning will be used.
Based on the data as of Sept. 14, 2020, the risk level for spread remains substantial in DeKalb County. Currently, there are greater than 100 cases per 100,000 residents for a 14-day period. The District’s phase plan is conservative and gradual because the safety and well-being of students and staff remain the priority. DCSD will move to phase two of its reopening plan when there are 100 or less cases per 100,000 residents in a 14-day period.
In phase two, students will remain in virtual learning. Also in phase two, DCSD staff will transition to a hybrid-working environment, thereby working in buildings for two days per week and remotely for three days. Prior to transitioning to phase three, second, sixth and ninth graders will have one day of face-to-face instruction. This will allow school staff an adjustment period before fully implementing phase three with all students. Close monitoring of the COVID-19 data will determine when DCSD gradually shifts to phases four and five.
The District will implement a “phased-in” approach to allow athletic and extra-curricular activities to return. Participation is voluntary. There is no mandate for students, coaches, or sponsors to participate. Schools will continue to mitigate exposure by maintaining social distancing during practices and while not on the field/court of play. Masks/face coverings are required.
“The safety and well-being of our scholars is a top priority for the District. All plans are contingent on less than 100 cases per 100,000. The data is in anticipation of the risk of being in the safe zone. Parents will have the option of continuing virtual learning, and the district will continue to communicate with families as we move forward in the phases,” Superintendent Watson-Harris shared with the board.
The District’s plan incorporates current guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health, DeKalb County Board of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE), Metropolitan Regional Educational Service Agency (MRESA) in collaboration with superintendents, and local and state government officials.
A second survey has been launched to receive stakeholder feedback on the possibility of re-opening. Focus groups will be held with administrators, teachers and other stakeholders. The plan is fluid and subject to change based on data and stakeholder feedback
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 board meetings on Oct. 19, Nov. 9, and Dec. 7, 2020.
Open link to review the entire plan presentation, including details about updated cleaning and maintenance protocols.