DeKalb Schools Closing – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

DeKalb County School District (DCSD), in collaboration with other metro area school districts, will close the school district on Monday, March 16, 2020, until further notice. All employees will continue to be paid and will work remotely from home. Student learning will continue through virtual learning assignments in the VERGE platform.

Coronavirus

Throughout the process, DeKalb Schools has relied on the guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DeKalb County Board of Health, Georgia Department of Education, and state leaders. During Thursday’s 3 p.m. press conference, Gov. Kemp communicated the following, “Given the rise of the coronavirus, I am going to issue a call to action. If local communities feel it is prudent, you should consider closing day cares and schools as early as tomorrow through the next two weeks.”

73% of our students receive free or reduced lunch and breakfast. DeKalb Schools is exploring options for providing emergency meal service for students. All district and school sponsored events, activities, meetings, and competitions are cancelled until further notice. It also includes athletics, extracurricular, school events and systemwide events.

Prom – Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety and well-being of our students and staff, ALL 2020 Junior-Senior Proms will be postponed until further notice. Principals will be directed to contact their venue to inform them of the necessity to postpone. They will also immediately notify their Senior Class Sponsor(s) and parents of members of both the junior and senior classes. It is the school district’s hope that the contracted venues will work with the schools to reschedule all of the PROMS at a later date.

School Supplies – It is currently undetermined when/if students will be able to access their school for books and other materials they will need for the upcoming virtual learning.

Length of Closure – Governor Kemp recommended closing for 2 weeks. According to the CDC, most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. The estimated average incubation period of COVID-19 is 5 days and it is expected that nearly all infected persons who have symptoms will do so within 12 days of infection. The current period of active monitoring recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is 14 days.

More information will be forthcoming. I’ll post information as I get it.

62 responses to “DeKalb Schools Closing – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  1. CCHS materials pickup

    Chamblee principal sent an email stating that the school is open today and will be open Monday: “Parents/guardians may visit the schools to pick up their child’s personal belongings and hard copies of assignments if needed. The school will be open until 4:00 p.m. today. The school will be open from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Monday, March 16, 2020.”

  2. Exact same message from DHS … “Also, parents/guardians may visit the schools to pick up their child’s personal belongings and hard copies of assignments, if needed. The school will be open until 4:00 p.m. today. The school will be open from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Monday, March 16, 2020.”

  3. The DeKalb County School District will begin providing daily meal service for students on Monday, March 16, 2020. All DeKalb County students can receive a free bagged lunch and snack daily, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the following sites:

    Region I
    Cross Keys High
    Sequoyah MS

    Region II
    Idlewood ES

    Region III
    Lithonia HS

    Region IV
    Clarkston HS

    Region V
    Chapel Hill MS

    Region VI
    Bethune MS

    Region VII
    McNair MS

  4. escapeefromdekalb

    All employees will continue to be paid and will work remotely from home– except some of you will have to come in because you being here and not staying at home out of the public is NOT that important to us. Nevermind that just yesterday — it was ALL EMPLOYEES.

  5. Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety and well-being of our students and staff, ALL 2020 Junior-Senior Proms will be postponed until further notice. Principals will be directed to contact their venue to inform them of the necessity to postpone. They will also immediately notify their Senior Class Sponsor(s) and parents of members of both the junior and senior classes. It is our hope that the contracted venues will work with the schools to reschedule all of the PROMS at a later date.

  6. @Stan: I sent you, Ms. Tyson, and the rest of the board an email this evening to see about expanding the food services to include transportation to others that depend on public transit and to open more schools. I was tremendously hurt by Ms. Tyson’s reply to our students in the effect of most communities.

    I don’t understand how Gwinnett County can open 70 schools, Floyd, Morgan, Hall, and Catoosa counties, just to name a few have opened up bus delivery service and opened up all elementary schools for a student who needs to come and pick up needed lunches.

    Why can a county with so many needs, do we supply such limited resources?

    I would love to know how you feel about this.

  7. VERGE was running very slowly and freezing yesterday with so many teachers trying to upload and add materials. Is the system truly prepared for all of the students who may access the platform simultaneously if it could barely handle the teachers?

  8. Escapeefromdekalb, I know of principals, custodial staff (to clean & disinfect) and SROs who have to report to schools next week. Who are the others?

  9. MixedMessaging

    I’ve heard from some people that hotspots were given to all students receiving free lunch, and from others that this isn’t true. Do you have any insite?

  10. According to the Digital Dreamers site, about 8,000 Sprint Hotspots have been deployed. On 10/7/2019, the board approved Cellular Carrier Contract Renewal. That included Sprint giving DeKalb Schools 25,000 hotspots for our high school students.

    So … who knows what the status is with how many hotspots are out there. I suspect the central office doesn’t know. The central office doesn’t even know how many Chromebooks are at the various schools.

  11. FormerDekalbTeach

    Is this virtual learning going to make DCSD allow the use Google Classroom instead of forcing the use of VERGE?

  12. I hope all virtual learning options will be available. Please let me know if there is something the teachers are not being allowed to use.

  13. The virus will not be stopped in the next 14 days. I’m concerned this closure could extend longer without a reconsideration of the assumptions that got us here.

  14. FormerDekalbTeach

    Stan-
    It is my understanding that DCSD blocked the use of Google Classroom a few years ago b/c they want to encourage the use of VERGE. I left the district a few years ago, but a former colleague said that’s still the case.

  15. DSW2Contributor

    ^^ I expect schools to be closed thru at least April 13 (the end of spring break) or longer.

    DCSD and other school districts announced a two week closure because two weeks is what Governor Kemp authorized in his March 12 press conference.

  16. Stan, current CDC guidance regarding school closures. Has DCSD reached out to the CDC? If so, did they indicate that we should close for 2 weeks or did we decide that? It seems to be contra their recommendations based on my reading. That’s in regards to both whether we should close and the length of the closure. I would like to understand the thought process.

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-schools.html
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/considerations-for-school-closure.pdf

    Based on page 9 of this link gives guidance on whether the contact has been minimal/moderate or sustained.
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/community-mitigation-strategy.pdf

  17. William, the school district is closed until further notice. Where do you see any communication about two weeks? Personally, I suspect at least two weeks given the nature of the virus.

    I believe the school district is in contact with the CDC and the state board of health. The closure is based on state recommendations.

  18. My mistake on the two weeks. Thanks for the info.

  19. I clearly got the two weeks from the governor and misread that Dekalb closed indefinitely.

    During Thursday’s 3 p.m. press conference, Gov. Kemp communicated the following, “Given the rise of the coronavirus, I am going to issue a call to action. If local communities feel it is prudent, you should consider closing day cares and schools as early as tomorrow through the next two weeks.”

  20. escapee from Dekalb

    Unspoken.. the maintenance workers— but no organization on any specific needs– except keep working on what you have– no regard to their health or that their children may now be at home instead of in school.

  21. escapeefromdekalb

    last night informed– they are NOT reporting this week.

  22. Google Classroom is still blocked. It has been blocked since 17-18 school year when it worked for the first couple weeks of the school year. Gary Brantley noted that the district had a contract with Verge so Verge should be the platform used by teachers.

    Makes no sense to have Chromebooks but we are restricted from using Google Classroom.

    Verge is not very user friendly so I’m not sure why we are forced to use it. Most of the resources in Verge are broken. The links don’t work and most of the videos won’t even load anymore. I’m tech savvy and I struggle with it so I know, teachers who are not are tech savvy struggling immensely trying to use it.

    The contract should have been canceled instead of being renewed a couple years ago.

    Hopefully, the new leadership will reopen Google Classroom and begin a desktop refresh for teachers because our desktops are slow.

  23. Lakeside Teacher

    My major problem with Verge has to do with any class discussions. My AP classes are double coded – gifted and non gifted sections in each class. I have to treat them as separate when it comes to any interactive activities on Verge. The gifted students will have one discussion, the non gifted another. It isn’t the end of the world, but I find myself using Verge and e-mail to send out tasks, and then have submissions via e-mail. On the other hand, my students are reaching out, so that’s a start.

  24. Google Classroom – I talked to the CIO. He said, “DeKalb Schools supports Google for Education tools for teachers”. I know last week a principal asked for access to some Google tools and the school district turned it on. If you need something turned on, contact the helpdesk and/or me.

  25. Lakeside: same issue in elementary, if you have the inclusive class. I have 3/4 sections, depending on the subject.

    Stan: So, we have to request for it to be turned on instead of it being turned on automatically for all teachers?

    When I use my Chromebook, this is the error:

    We are sorry, but you do not have access to this service. Please contact your Organization Administrator for access.

  26. Thank You, STAN!

    TO: Principals and Assistant Principals

    FROM: Derrick Brown, Chief Information Officer

    THROUGH: Mrs. Tyson, Interim Superintendent

    DATE: March 18, 2020

    RE: Access to Google Classroom

    Great News! Google Classroom will be released for use as a virtual learning tool and will be available for all teachers to use starting tomorrow, 3/19/2020. We are adding this virtual learning tool in the spirit of collaboration for those who would like to use it.

    VERGE is still the district-adopted learning management system, where the district’s curriculum, various digital content, and digital resources are currently located. Please keep in mind all directions pertaining to virtual learning refers to this district-adopted tool. Should a teacher or school decide to adopt Google Classroom as a virtual learning tool, it is recommended that a plan for communication and clarification is provided to students and parents.

    For assistance with Google Classroom, please visit the following resource: https://support.google.com/edu/classroom/?hl=en#topic=6020277. In addition, there is a multitude of videos on YouTube and other digital resources that address Google Classroom as a virtual learning tool.

  27. FANTABULOUS! That was a long time coming. CIO, Derrick Brown, is a nice change of pace around here. I’m looking forward to many of the changes taking place around DeKalb Schools.

  28. Thank you so much, Stan.

    Now, hopefully, our principals will get off our backs about checking our Verge usage…

  29. Dunwoody parent

    Stan google classroom along with many school applications are having issues. It is not just verge. Please do homework on Derrick Brown and find out why his former district released him and eliminated his position. We have seen you jump on the bandwagon before. I get concerned when you do that. Also, I hear Dan Drake is still leading operations. You said he was moved . It seems like once he got into a spat with you that he was doomed.

  30. Dunwoody Diva

    Where is the leadership in Dekalb County schools??? Why are they not communicating???
    Please let parents know that schools WILL NOT have being opening anytime soon, probably not at all for the rest of the year! Fulton County and Forsyth have already made announcements.
    People need to make long range plans for their families and jobs.
    School needs to be “done” at this point similar to the state of Kansas.
    You are just putting off the inevitable to wait and giving a delusional sense of hope for face to face school:(

  31. The Governor said that schools were closed until the end of March. Spring Break is until April 12. Nobody knows how this is going to go down over the next 2 weeks.

  32. DSW2Contributor

    On Tuesday, *California* Governor Newsom said he expected *California* schools to stay closed through summer break:

    “Don’t anticipate schools are going to open in a week. Don’t anticipate schools are going to open in a few weeks,” Newsom said during a news conference. “I would plan and assume that it’s unlikely that many of these schools, few, if any, will open before the summer break.”

    https://www.sacbee.com/news/coronavirus/article241289416.html

  33. Right. School district doesn’t have a Department of Public Health like the state. The state and feds are in a much better place than the school district to make these calls.

  34. @DSW2 Wait and see is the best option. Since we’re closed through March 31, it would be nice to say if we were going to be closed Apr 1 – Apr 3 (until Spring Break starts), but let’s not rush to shut us down for the 6 weeks after Spring Break. Please understand that Virtual learning is no replacement for face-to-face instruction. Many students don’t have access to technology or may have a hard time learning material on their own. If closing is necessary for the health and safety of the community, then I’m all for it. Who knows what the situation will be in 3 weeks.

  35. Dunwoody Diva

    I agree with “Curious”. DeKalb can at least let people know that schools are closed until after Spring Break
    like Fulton and Forsyth counties did. Obviously they made their own decisions.
    If the state university systems has shut down campuses and required students to move out of dorms. I can’t imagine the state saying it ok for K-12 students to continue with face to face school.
    I’ll just wait for the governor to call of school for the rest of the year

  36. Dunwoody Parent. You asked me to do some research on Dekalb Schools CIO, Derrick Brown. This is what I found. He was with Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, WA, for five years. His position along with many more were eliminated due to significant budget cuts.

    https://www.clarkcountytoday.com/news/evergreen-school-district-officials-detail-proposed-budget-cuts/

    Additional information:
    50% of Curriculum & Instruction positions eliminated
    90% of Instructional Technology positions eliminated

    Three cabinet positions were eliminated:

    • Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning
    Chief Academic Officer position created and filled by internal existing cabinet member

    • Chief Academic Accountability Officer
    Completely eliminated and not replaced

    • Chief Information Officer – Mr. Brown was the first and only CIO for Evergreen
    Completely eliminated and not replaced. IT Dept now reports to Executive Director of School Support Services. ED supervises middle schools, athletics, activities, safety and security and information technology programs

  37. DSW2Contributor

    Washington, DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced that traditional public schools in her city will remain closed until April 27.

    The mayor had announced earlier this month that schools would be closed through March:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2020/03/20/coronavirus-dc-maryland-virginia-updates/

  38. Is there a plan to help students who are not participating in virtual learning because of accessibility issues? Are administrators going to follow up with families of students not completing assignments to make sure that students have laptops and internet access either with a hotspot or one of the companies offering it free to families during this time? I fear that the teachers and students who are completing all this work now will have to do it all over again with an extended school year. That would be very bad for the morale of both parties.

  39. DSW2Contributor

    Dr. Beasley announced that Clayton Schools will be closed until at least mid April:
    https://www.ajc.com/news/local/clayton-superintendent-said-monday-school-until-least-mid-april/kUUvhUNbpMIFmgAdfXciWJ/

  40. DSW2Contributor

    The DeKalb County Board of Education has terminated LeKeisha Griffith, the Towers High Principal placed on administrative leave last fall after she allegedly forged her name atop a money order meant for her school and cashed it:
    https://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/dekalb-county-board-education-terminates-principal-accused-theft/Y7QogM0t5PgL074U89byJP/

  41. Where was the first confirmed case of Coronavirus mentioned in the email from the board yoday? It said the person did not have direct contact with students, but didn’t identify the location or department.

  42. They just said that the person didn’t work at a schoolhouse.

  43. I am extremely disappointed with the Department of C&I and their lack of guidance during this virtual learning time. Unless the are fervently working behind the scenes, I have not seen anything from them to help teachers with resources, lesson ideas or any other type of support. For many educators, it is stressful trying to find activities that engage and instruct the students. Some teachers have more skill than others and can easily navigate these newly chartered waters. Yet many cannot. If we are to continue this through the end of the year, it is going to be rough for all involved. Let’s not even talk about equity and access…. some students are not being instructed at all. What about the hundreds of Chromebooks that are in repair? Even though this situation is a bit unusual, however, it seems like a disaster plan should have been in place well before this. I hope new leadership brings about a change for the better in DeKalb. I am always hopeful. Take care and be well.

  44. High School Educator

    We got this lovely memo from Finance. Apparently we can expect a delay in our refunds because they sent our W-2 info twice to the IRS, causing our accounts to be flagged.

    “Dear DeKalb County School District Employee,

    Your 2019 W2, (Wage and Tax Statement) paper forms were distributed by January 31, 2020. These are your original W2 forms and reflect accurate reporting information. In accordance with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements to transmit by January 31st,2020, DeKalb County School District electronically submitted the original file to the IRS on January 22nd, 2020. On January 27, 2020, a duplicate file was electronically submitted to the IRS which caused a duplication issue.

    In order to resolve the duplication of electronic files, the IRS has directed the District to issue W2Cs, (Corrected Wage and Tax Statement) to employees and provide an electronic W2C submission to the IRS. In light of this, the District completed the mail out of a W2C paper copy to all 2019 District employees, that should be received this week. It is our understanding from the IRS, that employees who have already filed their 2019 tax returns and are awaiting a refund may experience a slight delay in processing, as a result of the combined reporting.”

    ..as if life wasn’t tough enough right now.

  45. Who's Running Finance

    Is there a new Interim CFO? A communication went out that has Masana Mailliard’s signature as ‘Interim Chief Financial Officer’. What is going on in finance? What happened to Morales?

  46. DSW2Contributor

    ^ I don’t know, but see this AJC report from Monday: “DeKalb Schools employee tests positive for coronavirus”:
    https://www.ajc.com/news/breaking-news/breaking-dekalb-schools-employee-tests-positive-for-coronavirus/PLHSdI4di6xFjFcK2eG4MN/

    The employee did not work in a school building and did not expose students. Draw your own conclusion about where employee works.

  47. Masana Mailliard is currently serving as Interim Chief Financial Officer. My understanding is that Superintendent Tyson and Morales didn’t see some things the same way. When the dust clears and the administration isn’t working 24/7, we should be able to go into more detail about some of these issues.

  48. @DSW2 and Stan,
    It is clear that there has been a deliberate effort to mislead and omit facts about the Principal situation. The district covers and dismisses those they find not aligned with personal agendas. How does someone with the experience of Morales be silently swept out and there be no news? A teacher was found with drugs at SWD during a sweep and no action, she was able to resign. A teacher threw a desk at a student at Miller Grove Middle and not a single “leak”. The teacher with drugs on campus and drugs at the airport were allowed to resign, yet the district terminated a Principal who to my understanding was never interviewed, or aware that investigation was taken place. It is strange that the tribunal rejected the decision to terminate because there was NO evidence to warrant termination. I was told that the Assistant Principal who was angry about not being interviewed started the whole thing with he help of another board member. The report given to the Superintendent was nearly 100% false in claims about background. This will not play out well for Dekalb.

  49. @James. I agree with you about the systemic culture of covering things up. Everything didn’t go completely unnoticed and unreported.

    AJC – DeKalb’s Green investigated over teachers’ violations not reported
    https://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/dekalb-green-investigated-over-teachers-violations-not-reported/FMJ03b91M0frAMtaQpuCpK/

    Former DeKalb County School District Superintendent Steve Green is being investigated by state officials on suspicion that he failed to timely report potential ethics violations by teachers to the state’s certification agency.

    Many of the specifics of the issues you mentioned are HR/Personnel issues which I can’t discuss.

    What’s the “Principal Situation?” –Stan

  50. Stan, I’m concerned that Mrs. Tyson and Robert Morales didn’t see things the same way, and now he is gone.

    I was impressed by what he did in his short time at DCSD. He was more informative and was professional but it was clear from his statements that the way DCSD did things wasn’t at all like what he had encountered before. By all accounts Mr. Morales is well respected.

    I feel similarly about Mrs. Tyson, that she has done so much more for students, teachers, and taxpayers in just a few months.

    The fact that these two couldn’t see eye to eye about the critical area of finance is concerning. I would love to know what the issues were. I wonder what caliber of Superintendent candidates are interested in a district where things like this happen.

  51. tongueincheek

    To The Governor:
    To be even considering reopening school this year is the essence of irresponsibility. In 3-4 weeks Ga will have 3 to 4times the cases we have now. As a teacher who is also in the higher risk category I will not return to school this year irrespective of your decision in April. You are not going to give me and many like me a potential virus-sentence. Acerbic pun, intended!!

  52. Region1teach

    The district continues to misinform stakeholders by saying Sprint Hotspots have been given to students in need. I’ve been trying to get students hotspots since August and been told there weren’t any this year.

  53. Deadra Turner

    Is dekalb co school system loning laptop for students because of the virus?

  54. FormerDekalbTeach

    Deadra Turner- APS took classroom Chromebooks for kids in grades K, 3rd-5th and passed them out to students in need this week. 1st & 2nd grade students were given tablets earlier in the year.

    James- are you talking about a current situation or the one at Shadow Rock from last year?

  55. DSW2Contributor

    ^ APS has been amazing. Their Principals called every household and asked if they had devices for their students to use. If a household said no, APS tried to loan something to them — they yanked the devices out of their computer labs and carts.’

  56. FormerDekalbTeach

    DSW2Contributor- yes, the staff at our school reached out to each student and had a list of questions to ask them during this time regarding technology. They’ve also shared the numerous food resources (breakfast, lunch, dinner) that APS has made available through the district and with community partners during this time. I’ve been impressed with the level of support and presence that the district is making. My husband teaches in DCSD and it’s a world of difference on what the districts are doing during this time.

  57. DeKalb Employee

    @James-
    There were many discrepancies that were long standing with the Principal at Towers HS. You also have to realize that a contracted employee has to go through the Due Process of Legal Affairs. The teacher at SWD with drugs; is apples and oranges to a Principal that a proven record of committing the offenses of what ended with termination. Not saying that any party is right, but she several mugshots online tying her to what she’s known for- and that’s stealing. Trust and believe, she was interviewed and went through all proper channels; just as the two employees at SWD and other schools did. During this process, you are faced with two options. Termination or Resignation. A humble person that recognizes their mistakes will opt for resignation. Someone who refuses to take the deal knowing what they did wrong and still make a fuss about it, can take the latter and that’s termination. The main word is called ACCOUNTABILITY.

  58. @Dekalb Employee,
    Sad to say that you along with so many are misinformed. First and foremost, there was never a conviction from all the reports available. Second there are laws which prohibit discrimination based on an arrest. Third the due process hearing cleared her of the ALLEGED violations. Unfortunately the truth and facts are being covered in efforts to save face and jobs. Hope you are providing digital learning activities to your students. Stay safe out there.

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