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After months out of the classroom, Atlanta Public Schools teachers return

Students will begin a phased return approach starting next week.

ATLANTA — It has been months since many Atlanta Public Schools teachers were inside of their classrooms. It was last spring, to be exact, when students were in the classroom. 

On Tuesday, the teachers returned. The students will follow in the coming weeks. 

Not everyone is happy with the switch. This past Saturday, dozens of teachers protested the decision outside of the district headquarters.

"We are responsible for the physical, academic, social, and emotional wellbeing of our students and, during this time of COVID, we have to put the physical first," Lisa Morgan with the Georgia Association of Educators said.

The district said there will be temperature checks and a mask mandate in place.

Students who have opted for in-person learning will start to return to campuses on Jan. 25. According to an APS document, at most schools in the district a majority of students have opted to stick with virtual learning. 

The district said they will continue to monitor cases. 

"We are diligently monitoring the level of community spread of COVID-19 daily. The health of our students, teachers, and staff is paramount and we take our decision to offer the option for in-person learning very seriously," the district said in a statement. "We value and respect the critical role our teachers play in the education of our students and we continue to listen carefully and intently to their input and recommendations."

They said they will remain engaged with the teachers throughout the process of returning. 

"Over the past several months, we have engaged with teachers, principals, school leaders, parents, public health officials, and others in implementing the recommended mitigation strategies and protocols in every school and building in the District," the statement read.

Pre-K through second grade students will return on the 25th and third through 5th grade students, as well as 6th, 9th and 10th graders will return on Feb. 1. Grades 7, 8, 11 and 12 will return on Feb. 4. 

The district, on their website also said the decision-making process "has been rooted in science and data with clear touchpoints based on guidance from the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Department of Public Health and recommendations of local, state, and national public health officials."