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First day of school in DeKalb County marked with plenty of pictures, hugs and masks

DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris toured seven schools Monday to kick off the first day.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Monday was the first day of school in Georgia's DeKalb County and it is in person -- very different from how it was last year.

To kick off this first day, the district's superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris toured seven schools, including the Early Learning Center on Fayetteville Road in Atlanta.

It was a day marked with plenty of pictures, hugs -- and masks -- a mandate parent and teacher Tameka Turnage said she hopes won’t be hard on the children.

“Right now they’re kind of like 'what is happening,' so we’re good to go right now,” said Turnage.

Watson-Harris said masks will be mandatory for all DeKalb County staff and students in all schools as well as on school buses.

“We will build in mask breaks outside where our children can be socially distanced and safe,” said Watson-Harris.

Families and staff are required to self report any positive COVID cases. 

While the school district is encouraging people to get vaccinated and also providing access to vaccines, they will not make COVID vaccines a mandate or ask for proof of vaccination.

To address the issue of lost learning from virtual schools last year, DeKalb County launched a program over the summer to bridge the learning gap. 

In regards to this year,  the District shared this statement: 

"As the school year begins, our focus is on meeting students where they are to accelerate growth. Social emotional learning lessons are critical during our first 10 days of the year to help students reconnect with school and their peers. During the first 10 days, teachers will administer diagnostic assessments to students in grades 1-9 to determine where they are. 

The data results will be used as teachers plan differentiated lessons and identify the appropriate interventions for their students. Schools will incorporate extended learning time in the schedule. Also, the district will host Saturday School beginning in October."

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