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Here are school districts' plans for back to school in the fall

11Alive is following the developments and is providing a look at district plans.

ATLANTA — Summer break is underway for most students in the metro area, but with the spring semester majorly disrupted because of the coronavirus pandemic parents are wondering what the fall semester will look like.

Some schools are still trying to develop their back-to-school plans - the big factor being what the pandemic will look like post-summer break.

RELATED: Georgia will waive standardized testing for schools next year

The Georgia Department of Education has already released a set of recommendations for returning the state's schools to normalcy, but districts are also developing their own individual plans.

11Alive is following those developments and is providing a look at district plans below.

Atlanta Public Schools

In a virtual town hall, Atlanta Public Schools' new superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring described what the 2020-21 school year could look like.

Right now there are five different scenarios:

Two of them are either going 100% virtual or 100% traditional face to face, which would require no or low risk of COVID-19 in the greater community.

RELATED: Atlanta Public Schools lays out what fall semester could look like

Then there are three different hybrid models. Hybrid 1 uses A/B days and a 10-day rotation. So, a student would go to school Monday, Wednesday, Friday and then learn online Tuesday and Thursday, and then reverse that the next week.

Hybrid 2 is a tiered approach that gives face-to-face instruction to younger children and English-speakers of other languages, and also to students in transition years, like entering middle school and high school. That option maintains virtual learning for everyone else.

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The third hybrid option is a phased-in approach that starts as virtual for all students and ends as face-to-face for all students.

Dr. Herring said their focus is on education, but in this time of COVID-19, health comes first.

"To make a decision that is guided by health experts and governed by the best instructional practices were able to do is also critically important," Herring said.

Cobb County Schools

Cobb Schools will open for face-to-face instruction with parents being able to choose a traditional classroom or a remote learning classroom.

"This format represents the best solution which balances our two most important priorities: the health and safety of our students and staff and student learning," the district said.

In preparation for the  “face-to-face plus choice" model, the district is asking families to choose the classroom environment which is best for them and their family. 

Families will be able to submit their choice beginning on July 2, but no later than July 10 through ParentVue

The district said both face-to-face and remote learning options will be available for all students, in all grades K-12. If families choose remote learning, they will be asked to certify that they have access to a device, the internet, and are committed to the remote learning environment for the semester. If they choose face-to-face learning, they will also be asked if they intend for their student(s) to ride the bus.

The district said it will also continue to work tirelessly to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our staff and our students, including through the following:

  • Social Distancing will be enforced whenever possible.
  • Hand Sanitizer will be provided in multiple locations throughout schools.
  • Masks are encouraged on buses and in school buildings.
  • Daily and rigorous cleaning protocols will be followed.
  • Nutritious meals will continue to be served daily.

Decatur City Schools

After a great deal of input from stakeholder groups, Decatur City Schools said it is looking into three scenarios for the fall. 

"Our goal is to bring back as many students and staff as safely as possible for in-person learning on August 4th, but we do not yet have enough information to make a final decision on which scenario is best. We need your input," the district said.

One scenario is a full return to school for all students with additional precautions. The second scenario is returning to school in a full virtual learning environment. The third scenario is a modified schedule with alternating in-person A/B days for students. 

For a full breakdown of the plan, click here.

DeKalb County Schools

The district has not yet released plans, but took responses from a stakeholder survey that ran from June 9 - 21. The results are not yet released. This story will be updated when plans are announced.

Douglas County Schools

No plans have been released yet for the 2020-2021 school year, yet. The district said parents will be notified of definite plans by June 30, 2020.

Fayette County Schools

The district has developed two different options for resuming school - Option 1 is a "brick and mortar" plan for Pre-K through 12 while Option 2 is a full-time virtual plan.

Under Option 1, there are three different instructional settings based on the level of concern regarding COVID-19 cases: green, yellow, and red. The green and yellow levels include prevention protocols such as social distancing, the recommendation of using face coverings, temperature checks, staff and visitor health checks, frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizer, extensive disinfecting, and contact tracing. Under the red level, students will participate in distance learning. Face-to-face instruction will be suspended, and students will not report to school.

Protocols for reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the after-school setting are being developed. Parents will soon be receiving a survey asking which educational option they prefer when school resumes Aug. 10. For a full breakdown of the plan, click here.

Fulton County Schools

While the district's decision regarding reopening will not be final until the Board's June 29 meeting, Superintendent Looney shared the COVID-19 Closure Matrix, which will govern the district's response to COVID-19 cases that occur within Fulton County Schools (FCS) when the district is back to in-person instruction. 

The matrix incorporates current guidance from the CDC and Department of Public Health. The district said the model includes a plan for school, building, zone, or district closures based upon low, moderate or substantial community impact. Also, each possible scenario includes a response protocol for communication, public health engagement, contact tracing, staff or student quarantine, cleaning, and recovery.

Forsyth County Schools

The school district released a draft plan for reopening schools in the fall outlining several new policies for both students and staff. 

According to the draft, Forsyth County Schools would adopted the following guidelines.

School nurses will be the school’s main COVID-19 point of contact

  • Periodic health screenings of students and employees may be conducted including random temperature checks. 
  • Students and employees with COVID-19 symptoms or a temperature of 100.4 and above will be immediately isolated and sent home.

You must stay home if you have COVID-19 related symptoms

Frequent hand washing breaks will take place daily

Disinfecting procedures and policies will be increased 

  • Hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout each building
  • Students and staff are also encouraged to bring hand sanitizer from home.
  • To promote COVID-19 protective measures, signs will be posted in highly visible locations and schools will broadcast daily messages. 
  • Schools and departments will develop a schedule for increased cleaning and disinfection. 
  • Ventilation systems will be monitored on a regular basis to ensure proper operation and the increased circulation of outdoor air as much as possible.
  • Buses will be cleaned and disinfected after every bus route. 
  • Students and employees may wear masks; they will not be provided by the school or district.

Student desks will face in the same direction  

Students will be isolated to their classrooms

  • While ensuring the safety of children, to the extent possible, students will eat in classrooms. 
  • Traditional water fountains will be closed; water fill stations will be open. Students and staff are encouraged to bring water from home.
  • Non-essential student movement throughout the school day will be limited. 
  • Outdoor recess will be continued but the number of students gathered in one area will be limited. Some playground equipment may be prohibited for student use. 

Events will be held virtually

  • In lieu of field trips, assemblies, special performances, and school wide meetings or events, including open house and curriculum nights, virtual activities will be pursued.
  • Parent/guardian teacher conferences will be held virtually, if possible.
  • Guidance from the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) will be followed for school athletics. 

Gwinnett County Schools

Gwinnett County Public Schools said it is making plans for a safe return to teaching and learning for students and employees in school year 2020-21. 

The district initially said it hoped to be able to open school buildings on Aug. 5 for traditional, in-person instruction and said if government or health officials determine the conditions are not safe for students and staff, GCPS leaders said they will make the decision to begin the year with online digital learning.

However, it released an updated plan on June 25 that would allow parents to opt for 100 percent digital learning. The district said it made its decision based of a parent survey from over the summer that showed that 43% of parents prefer a return to in-person instruction; 34% prefer 100% digital learning; and 23% prefer an option that combines in-person instruction with digital learning. 

Parents are being asked to inform the district which format they prefer, with the decision made by July 10. Students in families who do not select an option by July 10 will be assigned to in-person instruction. Students will attend school based on the option chosen for all of first semester (through December). A change may be made after the first nine weeks, if it is needed to better serve the student.

"As we look at our options for starting the new school year in person on our campuses, there are many logistics that must be considered as we develop our plans," the district said. 

GCPS said it is studying guidance from the Department of Public Health and the Georgia Department of Education in planning for the safest, most effective opening of school this fall. The district added it has also gathered input from our students, families, and employees of the district, as well as other community members.

Henry County Schools

At this time, Henry County Schools is planning to open school buildings and district facilities to resume on-campus learning on Aug. 3.  The district said it will align new health and safety protocols with the Georgia's Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools, published by the Georgia Department of Education.

The district said it is committed to additional hand sanitization stations, restroom use protocols, face-mask-optional practices, and enhanced cleaning processes. Additional health and safety protocols and plans regarding cafeteria use, playground use, and large-group courses (i.e. fine arts, physical education, and JROTC) that will accompany the on-campus environment will be outlined and shared via the district website on July 8. 

Accompanying the on-time opening of schools, HCS will also offer any family with a student starting in Kindergarten through 12th grade the option of registering for and starting the school year with Remote Learning in lieu of returning to campus for in-person instruction.  Families interested in this option will be asked to complete a Remote Learning Registration process.   Remote Learning Registration will be available on the district website, along with local school websites, from July 8 through July 17.  Participating in Remote Learning will require students and families to commit to regular and prompt participation in designated digital instruction time and will incorporate the Board adopted policies for attendance, grade reporting, and Code of Conduct.      

In the event that an executive order from the state dictates school buildings are to be closed for the 2020-21 school year, Henry County Schools will utilize remote learning for all students starting on Aug. 3.  

For a full breakdown of the plan, check the website.

Marietta City Schools

The district said school is anticipated to begin Aug. 4, but it is still developing plans to reopen.

"We are preparing for the potential reopening; however, we also understand that guidance from state and federal agencies continues to evolve based on patterns with infection rates and other critical variables," the district said.

In the meantime, it is asking parents to complete a survey to receive input.

Rockdale County Schools

The district is still formulating a return plan for students based on responses compiled from parents, faculty and staff. However, it has released a revised calendar for the 2020-21 school year.

"This calendar affords us more time to prepare and consider stakeholder feedback, guidance from health officials, and the myriad of challenges such as health screening, social distancing, increased cleaning protocols, and the potential for future school closures.," the district said.

The revised schedule includes a Sept. 8 start date.

University plans

University System of Georgia releases guidance for what fall semester may look like on college campuses

Emory University plans for in-person classes starting in August

Georgia State, facing budget cuts and furloughs, predicts what learning could look like for fall semester

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information.

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information. 

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