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New COVID surge means another pivot for Fulton County 4th grader

The first week back after the holidays brought the return of virtual learning for 4th grader Alaya Horne.

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — School is back in session, but the omicron variant meant another pivot for metro Atlanta schools and Fulton County 4th grader Alaya Horne

11Alive has been following her journey in the classroom amid the ongoing pandemic as part of our Learning Curve series, and from a safe distance outside her front door, Alaya let Liza Lucas tag along for part of her science class. 

"I was nervous and upset and kind of angry to be honest," she said of the moment she learned she'd be back in virtual learning.

Admittedly, Alaya is not a fan of remote learning. She stayed home, learning virtually all of 3rd grade due to COVID-19 and she's shared multiples times how much she dislikes the process of learning online. So it wasn't surprising to hear her reaction when Fulton County Schools announced the first week back for students after the holidays would be virtual.

The district was one of several in the metro who delayed students' return to the classroom after the holidays due to a surge in omicron cases.

Between the distractions and some technology issues for virtual learning, Alaya said it can be hard to concentrate.

"I can't do this, I can't do that," she said. "It's a lot of unmuted people."

Yet despite her initial frustration with the plan, Alaya's gotten pretty good at juggling it all, at times even incorporating her little brother into her lessons. 

Thanks to her teacher, Alaya said one week of virtual learning didn't end up being so bad. 

"Mrs. Upchurch is the best," she said. 

UPDATE: Alaya returned to the classroom the week of January 10th along with her school, but 11Alive learned the return wasn't all she hoped for. Alaya's mom said her daughter was taken off guard to find the return of COVID protocols like social distancing and mask wearing.