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'I don't think there are any perfect answers' | Districts struggle with back to school plans

School districts across the state are trying to figure out how to safely get kids back to school in the fall.

ATLANTA — Schools across the state are working overtime trying to figure out what education will look like when students return in the fall.

Teachers and administrators are thinking about the best decision for their district. Gwinnett County Public Schools is one of them.

"I think it's kept everybody up at night," said Gwinnett Associate Superintendent Dr. Steve Flynt.

It's personal for the administrator who also has kids in the school district. 

"I myself have students in the system, and a senior graduating. I know that's been really difficult for many families," he said. 

Flynt said he's been in meetings nonstop trying to figure out a plan to reopen the largest school district in the state come August. He said they've laid out three possibilities: coming back in person, continuing virtual learning, or trying to do a mix of both.

"Absent a final decision, we have a good plan moving forward. We do need to wait on guidance from our health partners and the legislature, and even where the budget is going to be next year before we can make some final decisions," he said. 

RELATED: Gwinnett County Public Schools revises return-to-work plan for employees after push back

Flynt said their preference is to bring everyone back in person - digital learning just isn't the same.

"We need to be concerned about safety for all. We have to make sure every student is maximizing their potential. That's very difficult if you don't have access to meet with families and children one on one," he said.

"That's going to continue to be a concern if we live in this digital environment for a while," Flynt added.

Current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would mandate that all teachers, staff, and students are screened for COVID-19 everyday and that students are kept socially distanced the entire day.

Flynt said they're still trying to figure out how they would do that.

"I don't know exactly what it would look like. I do know some of the challenges around social distancing, and around even screening for employees and students, that would be a very heavy lift for any school or any school system," he said. 

RELATED: How parents feel about school in the fall

The CDC guidelines would require that all teachers wear masks, but he doesn't know about students yet.

"I think if that is the requirement, that is what we would try to do. I don't know that I or anyone else can tell you when our start time, for us, is Aug 5," he said. 

Their summer session starts in just a few short weeks. Flynt said they'll spend it making difficult decisions about what school will look like during a pandemic.

"I don't think there are any perfect answers here. And I do think we are going to make some decisions that are not extremely popular. And I do think if we have to make some adjustments, we may have to do that along the way. I think everyone is willing to do that and has been really resilient," he said. 

He said he is proud of the work the district and the families have done so far. 

"This is a time that we've seen more innovative lessons from our teachers and staff, and I just couldn't be more proud of what Gwinnett County Pubic Schools has been able to do during this time" he said.

They hope to make a decision about their summer school programs by June 10. A decision about the 2020-2021 school year would hopefully come by the end of June.

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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