ATLANTA — School systems across metro Atlanta are deciding, now, whether to keep students at home or bring them back to class when the new school year begins in August.
Atlanta’s new school superintendent, Dr. Lisa Herring, is preparing to continue with online classes, only, for the first nine weeks of the new school year, at least.
But she told 11Alive News on Friday that everyone is more experienced, now, to be able to make virtual learning better than it was this past spring.
And one of her priorities will be to help students get caught up, academically, after all the disruptions the pandemic has caused to their learning.
“It’s not a question about whether or not there was a disruption in the learning process, we know that there was,” said Dr. Herring.
Dr. Herring, who was sworn in just this month as Atlanta’s school superintendent, said on Friday that before the online classes resume on Aug. 24 -- for nine weeks, at least -- teachers will be meeting, on-line, with every single student to see what the children will need to get back on track, academically. That's more than 54,000 students.
“There is a need for us to assess where their level of mastery of proficiency may be,” Herring said. “When we can identify that, that allows for us to know where to begin with the teaching and learning process.”
Dr. Herring said that, because of all that everyone learned this past spring about virtual classrooms, from now on the online classes will be as close as possible to being like in-person classes. And she hopes they will be temporary.
“We miss human interaction,” she said, “We need it as human beings. Children need it. They need it for growth and development.”
She said she will continually assess the status of the pandemic, and that there is no way to set a date, yet, when in-class learning will resume.
In the meantime, she said she intends to do all she can as superintendent to help students meet all benchmarks for academic success -- even if they achieve it a bit later in the upcoming school year than they would have without the pandemic.
“Lowering the bar is not an option,” Herring said. “Between August and December, we will have had a chance to reassess, reevaluate. That’s what I like to call academic grace because we’re going to need some time to do that (to meet the benchmarks) because we’ve all been interrupted. We may simply need more time to do that.”
And she said one reason this next phase of online learning will be better is that, in March, everyone had to jump into virtual learning with really no preparation for it.
“All of us have learned from the March disruption,” she said.
This time, even parents will have the opportunity for training in the next month, and she said everyone will be better prepared to make it work.