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Atlanta Public Schools rolls out proposal to return to in-person learning in 2021

The proposal includes a phased-in approach with the first group of students returning in late January.

ATLANTA — Atlanta Public Schools families have a decision to make after the district announced its intention to return to in-person learning in January. 

The proposal, announced during a Thursday virtual townhall, lays out a phased-in approach for reopening district schools in the new year, with teachers expected to return to the classroom first on Jan. 19.

Pre-K through second grade and special education students would have the option to return to in-person learning on Jan. 25. 

Grades 3-5, 6, 9 and 10 would follow on Feb. 1 and grades 7, 8, 11 and 12 on Feb. 4.

Students and employees would be required to wear masks and participate in daily health screenings, according to the district website. COVID-19 testing will also be made available.

District buildings will also be limited to 60% capacity to ensure social distancing. 

Families will still have the option for virtual instruction if they are not comfortable sending students back to school. 

Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring made clear that district officials are still monitoring COVID spread in the community.

"If we see a pattern of increase in the surge we will pause and take notice of what we must do but our intent is to move towards a reopening," Herring said.

The district will also focus on safety strategies like mask wearing, social distancing, washing hands, disinfecting and the ability to effectively do that in schools. 

The proposal comes after Atlanta Public Schools' October decision to put off returning students to classrooms until at least next year. Many frustrated parents have voiced their wish to have an in-person option sooner rather than later.

Parents are asked to complete the "intent to return" form by December 21. According to the district, if you submitted a response during the previous intent-to-return declaration period, you may use this form to update your response.