Breaking News
More () »

APS superintendent speaks on virtual start to the school year

11Alive's Christie Diez spoke with Dr. Lisa Herring about the unprecedented school year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

ATLANTA — Monday was the first day of class for more than half a dozen metro Atlanta school districts -- including the sixth-largest in the state. 

Atlanta Public Schools decided to start the school year off virtually. 

11Alive spoke with Dr. Lisa Herring about the unprecedented school year amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

In her first month as superintendent, Dr. Herring had to decide how more than 54,000 students would learn during the pandemic. 

"I'm grateful that I'm a sitting superintendent that has transitioned from a superintendency. Of course, this transition has happened in the midst of a pandemic, but working in the role of a superintendent is not a first time experience," she said. 

RELATED: APS votes to name Dr. Lisa Herring as its new superintendent

The Macon native most recently worked in Alabama as the Chief of Birmingham City Schools. Now, her job is to keep Atlanta schools on track. 

"We've been interrupted. I'm not committed to lowering the bar around expectations, but I am committed to identifying and revisiting what metrics might be in place for a level of success," she explained. 

She decided the district would begin the school year virtually for at least the first nine weeks. However, she made it clear that she is not blind to all of the challenges that may cause. 

"The inequity for all of that has hit many of us front and center. We are not an exception to that," she stated. 

The district is providing food, internet hotspots, and technology devices to families that need them. 

They are also doing social and emotional wellness checks for every student before learning even begins. 

RELATED: Making connections: how districts are getting creative to provide digital resources

"When we have our students in front of us, it gives us a chance to know if Lisa's having a good day or a bad day, we can tell right off and we need to make a referral to a counselor" Herring stated. "Virtual instruction completely makes it more challenging to assess social and emotional wellness"

She said that even in the virtual model, they will not be lowering the academic bar, but they will afford what she likes to call "academic grace."

She is determined to not lose a generation because of this disruption. 

"We know it's a unique and unconventional start to the school year but we are excited about welcoming our students and staff back to school," she said. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out