DeKalb Schools Re-Opening Framework

DeKalb Schools Re-Opening School Task Force built a framework to serve as a transition document to the new Superintendent for final decisions on how to re-open on the first day of school on Aug 3, 2020.

The Georgia Department of Education, in partnership with Georgia Department of Public Health, released Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools. Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools focuses heavily on the health and physical requirements necessary for reopening school buildings. This guidance is not mandated, or state required. Local school districts have the authority and flexibility to meet their individual needs and be responsive to their communities.

The task force was charged with aligning the state’s guidance with the planning of DeKalb Schools re-opening to help the new Superintendent make decisions on how to re-open in August.

FOCUS AREAS
DeKalb Schools Operations Division is working to address the logistics of reopening including:

  1. Practicing Prevention
  2. Transporting Students
  3. Entering School Buildings
  4. Serving Meals
  5. Transitioning between classes
  6. Conducting Large Groups Gatherings
  7. Supporting Teaching and Learning
  8. Protecting the Most Vulnerable Students and Staff
  9. When a Student, Staff or Visitor Becomes Sick at School

SCHOOL DECISION TREE – LEVELS OF COMMUNITY SPREAD
A school decision tree maps the level of community spread to the proposed levels of learning.
DeKalb Schools Decision Tree Level of Community Spread

LEARNING MODELS – LEVEL OF COMMUNITY SPREAD
Learning models for the various levels of community spread.
Learning Models

RE-OPENING SURVEY
DCSD is seeking stakeholder input on their preferences and perspectives for learning models and hybrid options that the school district is considering for the reopening of schools.

https://dekalb.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6RkKXCJKRzNDwfb

ONLINE LEARNING
There are numerous options for students to learn in the ways that are best for them. If you would like to learn in your own place and at your own pace, look into the many virtual learning options provided by DeKalb Schools, the state of Georgia and many other sources.

108 responses to “DeKalb Schools Re-Opening Framework

  1. Thank you, Stan. How do I “look into the many virtual learning options provided by DeKalb Schools, the state of Georgia and many other sources”? Is there a compilation page somewhere? Thank you.

    1
  2. Dekalb teacher

    @Rachel contact your counselor

    1
  3. What happens if one child/teacher/staff in building tests positive?

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  4. @Curious, the chart states that Low/No Spread = Traditional Learning. To me that means that the school doesn’t necessarily close or switch to Hybrid Learning when someone tests positive. It would help if “Low Spread” was defined.

    However, if contract tracing is followed then I would assume that anyone who was “close” to the person who tested positive would have to stay home and self-quarantine. With all of the privacy restrictions I think that would cover a whole lot of people, such as everyone in their classes, everyone on their bus, everyone whose locker is close to theirs. A whole lot of students might be affected.

    Teachers use a lot of common areas like the teacher mailbox area, copier areas, clocking-in station, teacher workrooms. I don’t know how you could rule out teachers unless everyone knew who had tested positive, and I don’t know if privacy rules would allow that. A whole lot of teachers might be affected, and I doubt that substitute teachers will be eager to sign up.

    I noticed that the School Decision Tree has no loop for determining when to return to the previous level. That’s really important.

    Even if those criteria are defined, the criteria must consider the timing. I don’t see how a school could go Traditional, then go Hybrid for a few weeks, and then return to Traditional. In theory it makes sense to return to a less restrictive environment since that is probably best for learning, but the logistics of starting/stopping plus the hardships on working parents make that difficult.

    It seems to me that the only realistic models are Hybrid Learning or Distance/Remote Learning. Maybe it’s good to begin with Traditional Learning so that teachers can at least meet their students and hopefully form some sort of bond before the inevitable switch to Hybrid Learning or Distance/Remote Learning.

    Those who pray really should pray that the new Superintendent and DCSD get this right.

    8
  5. Near Tampa, one school district is offering three options, but parents have to choose. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/pascos-school-reopening-plan-three-options-for-parents/ar-BB15FqOX

    Could DCSD do something similar?
    __________

    Also, why does every teacher have to prepare virtual lessons? It seems to me the district should have a team of “master teachers” for each grade who could prepare the virtual content delivery and then classroom teachers could follow up with reinforcing activities. It might mean more time online for students, but much less work for teachers. Think of it as a “Flipped Classroom” situation. Every student in the district gets the same lesson, but classroom teachers help them to understand it. I am picturing a new model of virtual instruction which could be used to do hybrid too. The whole district can be flipped. It won’t matter if students go to school or not, every one will have access to the same content.

    17
  6. MUSIC: Some news outlets report that singing in a choir can spread the COVID-19 virus via aerosols more easily than merely speaking. How is DCSD planning to adjust music instruction to keep students and staff safe?
    STAFFING: Also, what will happen to staff who are immune-compromised or who have underlying medical conditions that may put them at greater risk of infection and complications? Can they take a leave of absence for a year?
    SUBSTITUTES: It’s always a challenge to find substitute teachers, and teachers in attendance sometimes have to give up their planning times to “cover” other classrooms. Retired teachers often serve as subs. What measures is DCSD taking to increase the number of subs available to teach next year? How many Star Subs will be assigned to each school? Will schools with larger enrollments be provided with additional Star Subs?
    SENIORS’ CREDITS: If a Senior has passed all of their Freshman-Junior Classes, is it possible for them to take a reduced course load to meet the 23-credit graduation requirement and only attend classes for a half day to allow for easier social distancing during the pandemic? I’m aware of dual enrollment and work-study programs, but not interested in them.

    4
  7. Vanessa Thompson

    This really says nothing.

    10
  8. Online with traditional

    Seems to me that having an online component and an in-school component and letting the parent choose is the way to go. Stan – doesn’t DeKalb already have an online school, or was that phased out? If there’s one already operating, why can’t parents who don’t want their kids back in the building choose that? They would have to commit to a full semester, then could decide to go back to traditional or keep doing online. Same with people who come to the building – they have to commit, but then can change at the semester end.

    This way, teachers aren’t having to prepare online and in person lessons, and parents can choose whether to risk their kids with other kids. My guess is this would take a significant portion of kids out of the buildings as well, which could help the traditional model work since more space will be needed…

    5
  9. Stan Jester

    Yes. DeKalb schools has an online school.

    1
  10. I think the Pascos County (Tampa) folks have it right (thanks Kirk). Give parents a choice, not an ineffective, one-size-fits-all compromise that makes no one happy.
    The choices they offer:
    1) Full-blown in-school instruction with Covid-sensitive precautions
    2) Full-blown online instruction, using regular class schedule
    3) Online instruction at the student’s own pace, interacting with teachers as needed.
    DeKalb’s proposed hybrid of either alternating days or alternating weeks of in-school instruction will be a disaster. Kids, particularly younger elementary-aged students, need personal, face-to-face instruction, as well as a regular, structured schedule. And during these early years is when learning patterns are established.
    Every day we delay getting students back into the classroom, we’ll be compromising their education.

    3
  11. Heather Hopper

    What is the county’s definition / range of “substantial community spread” and “moderate/mild” community spread?How many days in a row would numbers be going up or down before a change is considered? What might be considered moderate risk for some, may be high risk for others (eg having diabetes or asthma).

    There will not be a model that works for everyone. I predict more discord than when redistricting is discussed! However, it would be helpful if DCSB comes up with a answers to FAQs so at least we see that they have some idea of the “what ifs” they will be hit with. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but I really don’t want to get the impression that people are flying by the seat of their pants or not thinking things through.

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  12. Speaking with one of my colleagues, she brought up that we should have mandatory covid testing for teachers prior to returning to school. I think that would decrease some of the anxiety returning to school. Is that a possibility? Also, does anyone know when the district will have our school plan available by? I notice some of the other counties have done this already.

    6
  13. I have questions

    Is there any guidance for day-to-day operations such as: eating lunch, specials, etc.? Will students and staff be provided adequate ppe? It would be absolutely ridiculous to cut our pay via furlough days (especially since DeKalb is the only county doing this) AND expect us to purchase our own ppe. What about after school programs, after care, clubs, tutorials, etc.? What about access to testing? Temperature checks won’t matter much since parents give their kids Tylenol before school to hide the fevers. If teachers contract the virus because they’re forced to return to buildings, how will that effect our sick time? Will the county cover those sick days since the government says we have to quarantine for 2 weeks if we’ve been exposed? What about people who take longer to recover from the virus who don’t have the sick time to cover being out? Forcing teachers to come back into buildings for a virus that has no effective treatment and no vaccine is asinine. If teachers contract the virus, DeKalb should have to foot the bill for the fallout.

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  14. I have answers

    I don’t see a viable alternative to leaving the house and interacting with people. Teachers are welcome to submit their resignations and find another job that more properly accommodates their fears of contracting the virus. Such as telemarketing, working in an online environment or some other industry.

    If they would like a paycheck, these teachers need to go back to work in some form or fashion. Sorry to be so mean, but we cannot live in fear of a disease that has a 0.05% death rate.

    4
  15. I have questions

    Answers,
    If you have REAL answers/solutions to my questions, please feel free to provide them. Otherwise, let the people who are actually impacted by this flesh it out. Questions about contingency plans need to be asked before we encounter problems so that we’re not all blindsided and can react in an organized fashion. If your only solution is “those teachers should find another job,” then it seems that you’d rather be inflammatory than helpful. It is completely rational for professionals to be concerned about our personal health and safety. Asking employers to provide plans to alleviate those concerns is completely acceptable. You have a great day.

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  16. This is a really challenging situation for the District and one where any decision is going challenged. It really is a balancing test. Teacher who are vulnerable as a result of a pre-existing condition, children are children and won’t follow the rules, parents want and need to go back to work. I don’t envy the new super nor the board. It would be nice to know how the survey came out. Stan will the results of the survey be shared so that we can know whether the results support the decision that is made?

    2
  17. I have answers

    Question,
    My kids go to school and I pay taxes, I’m quite effected. Open the door and go outside, you’ll notice a lot of people are going to work. DCSD doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel here. What do police, firefighters, barbers, waiters, etc … do? We should put a plan together, but it’s not asinine, as you suggest, to expect teachers to go in to work.

    2
  18. I have questions

    Answers,
    Teachers have children and pay taxes as well. I am one of them. AGAIN, I am asking valid questions that need to be addressed before schools can function normally. You still don’t seem to have valid answers to those questions. If you haven’t noticed, the number of cases and deaths have been on a steady increase since everything opened back up. A plan needs to be in place to support and protect everyone who will be in schools, as schools are breeding grounds for viruses. I still have not heard an adequate plan to address these concerns from any county. As a parent, I would expect that you would appreciate knowing that your children are protected and as safe as possible. I do not personally know a single teacher (including myself) who would actually prefer to teach virtually. However, everyone’s safety should be the top priority. If you cannot understand that, then I do not know what to tell you. Now, if anyone else has valid answers/solutions to my concerns, I would be happy to hear them.

    13
  19. I have answers

    Question,
    You are obviously impacted, but don’t tell me I’m not impacted. You have valid questions. DCSD should figure out what those answers are. It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what those answers are since police, firefighters, barbers, waiters and a whole slew of other people have already figured it out.

    While safety is a concern, we take risks just by getting out of bed. We cannot reduce the risk down to zero I’ll bet you’re still driving. That’s a risk. People get hurt and killed every day on the road. So, you obviously understand the balance between taking risks and getting done what needs to be done.

    Once again, it is not asinine for “teachers to come back into buildings for a virus that has no effective treatment and no vaccine”. We are asking all kinds of people to go into work … teachers are no different. You ask good questions, but we aren’t waiting for effective treatment or a vaccine before returning to school in person.

    1
  20. I have questions

    Answers,

    You keep mentioning professions that would not exist if the workers did not interact with the public. Teaching is not one of those professions. While virtual learning is not ideal, it is possible. I am fully aware that we cannot reduce the risk down to zero, which is why I asked about ppe, sick days, hospital bills, etc. because those scenarios will come up. It is almost July and teachers have no clue what is supposed to be happening at the end of this month when we are slated to return. Our contracts have already been signed and it is too late for us to try to get out of them with no penalties. Teachers who are high-risk, those who have high-risk children/family members, etc. should have already been provided answers to these questions so that we have enough information to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families. It is absolutely asinine to REQUIRE these teachers to come back into a building, especially without a clear plan for their safety. We have teachers and students who are battling cancer and a host of other health issues that make them extremely vulnerable to this virus. These teachers deserve answers, and they deserve to know that the county has taken their health into consideration when making these decisions. Unless you will be working with hundreds of students and possibly exposing yourself to this virus hundreds of times a day, you are not impacted like you think you are. If you’d like for schools to open normally and remain open, as a community member, advocate for these protections to be put in place before school starts. Otherwise, you’ll wake up to find that your child’s school has been shut down and you only have one day to find childcare, which is what happened in March.

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  21. I have answers

    Answers,
    I’m sorry, but teaching is one of those professions. Parents and students are welcome to go to an online school, otherwise education is in person. I’m sure many teachers worked as hard if not harder when we went online. unfortunately every parent and student I’ve talked to considered the virtual learning-coronavirus time period useless.

    If teachers and the school district want to convince the public that teaching isn’t an in person job, I’m all ears. Thus far, virtual learning has been an utter failure. Until teaching can be done virtually, it must be done in person.

    I’m fine with demanding a clear plan for safety, but that’s not what you said. You said, “Forcing teachers to come back into buildings for a virus that has no effective treatment and no vaccine is asinine.” That’s not acceptable.

    I didn’t say we were impacted in the same way. I disagreed with you when you said, “let the people who are actually impacted by this flesh it out.” I’m impacted too.

    This whole conversation is so typical of most of the conversations I’ve had with anybody at the school district.

    1
  22. I have questions

    Answers, I stand by everything I said and I will not continue to debate it with you. You have a great day.

    Stan, when can we expect to hear anything resembling a plan from the district? I understand that these are uncharted waters, but is there at least a plan regarding ppe? If mask-wearing helps stop the spread, will students be required to have masks? If so, parents should be made aware of this now. So far, I’ve spent over $100 purchasing masks for my family and they take forever to be delivered. I’m guessing that once school starts, supplies will be low again. Will the district provide masks to students whose parents cannot purchase them?

    5
  23. DSW2Contributor

    Dr. Beasley announced Clayton County Schools will have a blended learning schedule using both virtual and face-to-face instruction: “Students will be divided into two groups — A and B. Group A students will attend classes in their school buildings on Monday and Wednesday. Those in Group B will attend school on Tuesday and Thursday. All students will participate in virtual learning days on Fridays.”
    https://www.news-daily.com/news/clayton-county-schools-to-reopen-in-august-following-modified-schedule/article_ef4b3bcc-b566-11ea-98ed-331e3577c402.html

    Kudos to Dr. Beasley for making a decision early enough so that parents, children, teachers, staff and administrators can properly prepare.

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  24. Stan Jester

    @I have questions. We are in a tough spot. Tyson put together a framework for options for August, but the incoming Superintendent will need to make these decisions. She officially starts July 1. Really tight time frame.

    5
  25. I have answers

    Question, You stand by everything you’ve said?

    You said, “Forcing teachers to come back into buildings for a virus that has no effective treatment and no vaccine is asinine.” You standing by that one still? Now that’s asinine.

    You implied in a belittling manner that I wasn’t impacted when you said, “If you have REAL answers/solutions to my questions, please feel free to provide them. Otherwise, let the people who are actually impacted by this flesh it out.” You standing by that statement too?

    I’m curious to see if you have the capacity to admit being wrong. Do you practice what you preach?

  26. Stan,
    Am I correct in understanding that DeKalb County will not make any announcements of plans before the new Superintendent starts? Does this mean there is no planning happening at all right now?

    Has she provided any guidance to the Board or Central Office (or vice versa) that will help to shorten the time frame when she officially begins? Is *anything* happening towards making a decision or plans before she begins, or is everything fully stalled until then?

    Thank you

    3
  27. Stan Jester

    Hello @Heather. The new superintendent starts next week (July 1). I’m confident DeKalb Schools will not make any announcements before that. I believe Ms Watson-Harris has been communicating with the school district over the last few weeks. I imagine the DeKalb Schools Re-Opening School Task Force continues to prepare. The only updates the board has received have been the public updates in board meetings. –Stan

    1
  28. I have questions

    Stan, thanks for the info. I’m extremely nervous that we’ll be left scrambling at the last minute to implement whatever is decided. I don’t want to put students and staff at risk by rushing and cutting corners.

    3
  29. Just Wondering

    The biggest reason that virtual learning was “an utter failure” in my opinion is that the district treated it all as mere extra credit. We weren’t allowed to require students to do any work and weren’t allowed to put in any grades which made averages go lower than they were on March 12. You can’t really blame the teachers for that. I know many teachers who planned great lessons, but there was little student participation and definitely no student accountability. I don’t think it is fair to judge the end of this year as an utter failure based on what we were told to do and how restricted we were. I imagine that if there is virtual learning in the fall, it will look much different (as long as we are allowed to hold students accountable for actually doing the learning/work assigned).

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  30. There is no safe way to return to school face to face. The hybrid seems most likely to happen, but I doubt the district can address concerns about hot water in the bathrooms, sink knobs that have to be held to run, PPE that needs to be consistently replaced, and kids that don’t respect 6 feet of space.

    12
  31. I have questions

    I agree that virtual learning could have gone much better had teachers actually been able to teach. As soon as students and parents learned that the grades wouldn’t negatively impact them, many of them stop trying. A lot of kids also didn’t have the technology to keep up. I don’t see how we can go back to in person teaching until the issues that Nikole mentioned are fully addressed. I truly do mot see that happening in 28 days. I’m also concerned that we haven’t been trained on how to properly identify symptoms of the virus, either. The symptoms seem to change constantly, and are different for everyone. There’s a video of a popular comedian fainting while on stage, and he was diagnosed with the virus. How are teachers and staff supposed to handle those situations? Who is held liable if we don’t know what to do and a student or staff member has serious complications because of it? Teachers? Admin? DeKalb? We have to think about what’s safe for all parties and not what’s most convenient for some.

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  32. Stan, is there any information on the participation rate of students in virtual learning? There’s some anecdotal information but is there any data?

    1
  33. Stan Jester

    @D, Anecodotally, I hear participation rates are abysmal. I don’t have any real numbers. That number would be good to know.

    @Questions, To your point … Teachers and the school district were prepared for 1 or 2 days of virtual learning, not months. Many K-5 students don’t have their own Chromebooks. I’m not sure it’s even possible to effectively do virtual education for a 1st grader.

    The new superintendent starts next week. We have to have answers to these questions before going back. I’m concerned that everything is a moving target. Every week we have a different understanding of the virus and what to do about it. It wasn’t long ago that the WHO said not to wear masks.

    To the points @IHaveAnswers made, lots of people are going in to work. I firmly believe we can figure it out too.

    1
  34. DSW2Contributor

    I’ve been watching the neighboring school systems for hints about what DCSD might do. Here’s what the others are doing:

    Clayton County – children will only be in school for 2 days a week

    Rockdale County – also doing a hybrid model but details are not yet known https://www.rockdaleschools.org/cms/one.aspx?pageId=41255528

    Decatur City – considering three scenarios; will provide more information to the public by July 17:
    https://decaturish.com/2020/06/city-schools-of-decatur-considering-three-scenarios-for-reopening-this-fall/

    Atlanta – will announce its decision sometime in July even though their incoming superintendent is already on the payroll. https://www.ajc.com/news/local/aps-mulls-reopening-options-plans-announce-decision-july/g55mASJj3XVvk3agxtOoOK/

    Gwinnett – only announcement I can find is that they are “leaning” towards in-person classes
    https://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/local/in-case-you-missed-it-top-gwinnett-county-stories-from-june-15-21/collection_ff5665d6-b431-11ea-b80a-f33cdc924ba2.html

    Gwinnett is the one to watch because the county has more covid cases than any other county in the state:
    https://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/local/gwinnett-surpasses-6-400-covid-19-cases/article_694636d2-b4ce-11ea-8428-57fdf117f310.html

    Also of interest is Buford City Schools since they are in Gwinett County. Buford will hold in person classes https://www.ajc.com/news/local/buford-city-schools-hold-person-classes-this-fall/Elc1Ijvu9hCE8oKhuP174O/
    Buford probably has no choice but to open as normal– they built a Taj Majal football stadium, football training facility and an attached high school that opened last Fall. I doubt that they have enough money left to shift to remote learning.

    2
  35. Curious Stakeholder

    Stan, how can we find out the results of the district’s survey for reopening schools, and when can we expect the district to make a final decision about the plan?

    2
  36. I have questions

    My son is in DeKalb’s virtual literacy camp and it’s going really well. I think DeKalb did an excellent job putting the literacy camp together, and I believe that a similar model can be used for regular instruction as well. The difference between this camp and the virtual learning is that there was actually time to plan for the camp, whereas virtual learning had to begin 2 days after we learned that we weren’t returning to the building. When buildings were closed, we had (maybe) an hour to make packets for students before we had to leave. No time for planning, no time to get teaching materials and supplies, and no time to decide which platforms and apps we’d be using consistently. Virtual learning can work with proper planning. Would it be ideal to do all year? No. But it’s also not ideal to force teachers into a role of being both teacher and doctor/nurse, especially when we aren’t paid like doctors and nurses. I hear Cobb is offering virtual instruction as an option, but teachers and other students will be going back to the traditional model. Who is supposed to teach these virtual classes? Surely not the teachers who are in a building all day. If we do have to teach online AND in school, will we be paid a stipend for doing so? When we did virtual learning, I was in front of my computer helping and teaching kids for about 12 hours a day. How are teachers supposed to manage online classes and in-person classes? If that’s what we’re going to be asked to do, we need to be compensated for it.

    8
  37. DSW2Contributor

    *Cobb* County will open for both face-to-face and remote instruction and parents will be able to choose what is best for their child. “If you choose remote learning, you will be asked to certify that you have access to a device, the internet, and are committed to the remote learning environment for the semester. If you choose face-to-face learning, you will also be asked if you intend for your student(s) to ride the bus,” the district said.

    https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/cobb-county/cobb-county-announces-plans-how-students-will-return-school/W2TMLBXP4VGIRN7DYXEDHODSRM/

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  38. @Curious Stakeholder,
    I suspect the results of the survey will be released at the next board meeting. If not, I’ll get it and publish it.

    @IHaveQuestions,
    So, hybrid is a challenge? Teaching in the traditional model and virtual model at the same time isn’t possible? Are you saying that the Clayton County Schools model Dr. Beasley announced with a blended learning schedule won’t work?
    https://www.news-daily.com/news/clayton-county-schools-to-reopen-in-august-following-modified-schedule/article_ef4b3bcc-b566-11ea-98ed-331e3577c402.html

    Is the hybrid model a wish and a prayer?

    3
  39. I have questions

    @Stan,

    The only way I can see it working is if teachers only provide instruction to the students while they’re in school, and on the virtual days students are required to work independently. I’m assuming that blended models still have teachers in the building for 4 days teaching classes. If students are struggling at home, when would teachers have time to provide instruction to those students during our regular contract hours? If it’s 2 days active instruction/2 days independent learning, it can work. But would that be equitable for all students? I’d prefer all virtual or all traditional. If it’s traditional, we need protections in place that ensure the safety of students and staff.

    1
  40. Seem like there are a lot of variations on the hybrid model.

    @IHaveQuestions,
    What do you think of what Cobb and Clayton have said they are going to do?

    If you have half your students in the classroom and half your students at home virtually, can you address a virtually learning student at home during the day … perhaps via teams meeting as if the student was right there at school?

  41. I have questions

    What Cobb is proposing seems a lot more difficult than Clayton. Clayton has all students participating in the hybrid model, which will eventually be easier to manage if they do the 2 days active instruction/ 2 days independent learning. Cobb is letting individual students opt out, which presents some problems. For example, if Exceptional Ed or ESOL students opt for remote learning, will they waive rights to those services? Would students who opt for virtual learning be required to spend the entire school day online to get the same amount of instructional time as students in traditional classes? I still don’t see how teachers would be able to manage that virtual learning platform throughout the day while there are students in the classroom. During virtual learning, there were some students who needed an hour of my time to help them through an assignment. How would teachers address those needs while still addressing the needs of the students who are actually in front of them? I’m speaking from an elementary perspective, though. It could be a lot easier to manage for middle and high school students. However, I’d venture to guess that elementary schools would have a much harder time adhering to safety guidelines to control the spread of the virus.

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  42. @IHaveQuestion
    OK … so this virtual model is OK where Students will be divided into two groups — A and B. Group A students will attend classes in their school buildings on Monday and Wednesday. Those in Group B will attend school on Tuesday and Thursday. All students will participate in virtual learning days on Fridays.

    If there are any 100% virtual students then they should take the virtual class designed for 100% virtual learning.

    4
  43. I have questions

    I think so, as long as students and parents are aware that virtual days are strictly independent learning days. Otherwise, I don’t see how we would be able to simultaneously manage both learning options everyday. If that’s what we’d be expected to do, then it would have to be either all virtual or all traditional.

    2
  44. I have questions

    However, parents would run into the issue of having to find childcare for their students on the days when virtual learning occurs. I suspect that’s why many are pushing for the traditional model altogether. I’d be in the same boat, and that would be difficult to arrange at the last minute. If that’s what DeKalb wants to do, parents need to be notified ASAP.

    3
  45. @I have questions,
    Your points are why time is of the essence! If we are doing A/B schedules, the school needs time to put sibling groups on the same schedule and determine which teachers will teach online vs. in the building. I’d think that our teachers with pre-existing conditions would teach online, but you’ve now cut your staff for those working in the building. And once you split those students among those teachers, will the class size still be acceptable for social distancing. There are a lot of moving parts and we need answers sooner rather than later.

    6
  46. DSW2Contributor

    Three things I’m really worried about:

    (1) Social distancing – we don’t have the space to do this. Some parents, including the one who wrote that recent “Get Schooled” column, seem to think that our children are sitting at individual desks in giant rooms. We have elementary kids sitting around circular tables, science classes sitting at lab tables, and a lot of children stuffed into trailers. (Beasley in Clayton did the “Captain Obvious” thing and cut class sizes in half.)

    (2) Cleaning and sanitizing schools — I haven’t seen anyone talking about hiring more custodians for this and many DCSD schools aren’t really that clean to begin with.

    (3) Substitute teachers — I presume we’ll need more subs than ever since whenever a teacher tests positive that teacher will have to self-isolate at home for at least 2 weeks. Yet we never ever have enough subs during normal school years and the way we’ve handled not having a sub is to move children from the empty classroom into other classrooms, increasing class size. That won’t work during the pandemic.

    I’m also worried that many of our subs will stop being subs since they won’t want to take the risk for minimal pay. I also don’t know how &and where subs will be allowed to work — will they be allowed to go to different schools on different days, or will they be isolated to one school?

    11
  47. I have questions

    @Nikole and DSW,

    Exactly! I’m still baffled that, with some many unknowns, opening up is even on the table without clear and proper guidance. If we open up traditionally, safeguards need to be in place. I haven’t seen or heard of anything like that happening. If we do a hybrid model, instructional considerations need to be taken into account. I fear that most of these decisions are being made from a political standpoint rather than a practical/health-first standpoint, and we’re all going to be hit with the ramifications of these decisions. I’d still like to know what would happen with my sick time if I’m exposed to the virus by a student or another staff member and forced to quarantine. I shouldn’t have to use my sick days (of which I have VERY few- thanks to maternity leave) when I get exposed at work. I really don’t care how other professions are handling this. Teachers are constantly asked to do more with less, and this is another example of it. We should at least be protected when (not if) this gets out of control. By the way, the CDC just added runny nose, nausea, and diarrhea to the list of symptoms for covid. That’s a typical day at an elementary school. Are we supposed to send every kid with a runny nose home? Are we supposed to get tested and quarantine if we have a runny nose? If parents think virtual learning is hard, wait until they have to leave work to pick up their child every time they have the sniffles.

    8
  48. Hello,

    Is there a way to submit questions and the district could post the questions and answers? It may be helpful to get the thoughts and inputs of other people. This blog is an excellent example of how helpful it can be to get input from various people
    Another point to consider is Special Education Students. How will these students be serviced? If it is online, will the regular education teachers be working closely with the special education teachers? What roles will the para educators play?
    How about the students that are at the Career Tech Centers? How will these students be provided instruction? There are auto, culinary, early childhool classes and health careers classes. These are difficult to offer online.
    Finally, are teachers getting training on providing on line instruction? This can be a challenge for people.

    3
  49. This and Than!

    “I have questions” makes a very good point! Thank you for the nod towards runny nose, nausea, and diarrhea! I was wondering when someone would mention this! This was my classroom on most days! It was difficult getting parents to pick up kids so we would have them in our self-contained classroom (5 year olds). I have been with DeKalb since 1995 and I do not see any way to have any sort of preschool special education classrooms at schools. I am so glad I put in my retirement papers back in August! Before all of this began! Good luck to one and all!

    9
  50. I believe the district is going to try to do what Clayton County is doing. If they do, parents have to understand schools will close whenever someone tests positive. There will be unplanned virtual learning days all year long.

    Parents need to be prepared for some virtual learning.

    While DCSD did virtual learning poorly, it doesn’t have to going forward. There are dozens of successful online schools. One of my sons attended Acellus Academy for a year and it was very good. Hopefully, the district will help and support teachers to do better.

    4
  51. Fund Educators

    https://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/local/gwinnett-county-public-schools-not-planning-to-cut-or-furlough-staff-because-of-state-funding/article_483ef11a-b760-11ea-b678-9b8d4c7fe304.html#utm_campaign=blox&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

    This year Teachers are going to have to pour even more of their own money than usual into their classrooms. Do like Gwinnett and make sure they don’t get a pay cut!

    5
  52. There are populations for whom virtual learning doesn’t work. ESOL students and Special Ed students need face to face. There were also difficulties when there was one device for 5 children in a family, or when the parents and children don’t speak English. There are incidences in which the parents really don’t understand what’s going on, or when there is no wifi. I think going back to 100% virtual learning, no matter how great the teachers are, is not the answer.

    3
  53. DSW2Contributor

    Stan,
    Is the board being told about the teachers & staff that have passed away from the virus….or do privacy laws prevent that?

    4
  54. The board is told about any students or employees that pass for any reason.

    3
  55. waitingforgodot

    This teacher is afraid for so many reasons.

    The school district hasn’t asked us anything about our ability to teach in-person, our needs for virtual learning, and our questions about any teaching model. Maureen Downey has an article citing Georgia Tech researchers’ findings about instructional spaces and covid. They conclude that classrooms for learning spaces would be reduced to 15-30% capacity. Sharing confined space with poor ventilation after fifteen minutes puts teachers and students at much greater risk than many of the jobs that have gone back to work.

    If we are going to do some type of in-person teaching, everyone needs to know what a typical school days looks like. I want to see a video that shows me what my working day will look and what my child’s school day will look like. How is the bathroom, one of the riskiest areas in any public building, handled? Stairwells? What research is anyone using to figure out how many people can safely use a bathroom in a certain amount of time? What does the ventilation look like? Where is the nurse based in the school? What’s the safety protocol? Where will multiple students be housed when they exhibit symptoms, and the school is waiting for parents to pick up their children? What happens when a teacher starts exhibiting symptoms? What happens when as many students and teachers as there are administrators exhibit symptoms during the same part of the day? How will custodians know what spaces are prioritized cleaning spaces ?What happens when a student or a colleague refuses to wear a mask or wear it properly? Where will the extra masks be kept for the many that forget, lose, or rip theirs each day or week? What does the sub issue look like if you’re one of the in-person teachers and you have to quarantine for 14 days? What does instruction look like for the in-person student who has to quarantine for 14 days? What is the grading going to look like so students’ struggles are recognized but so that students aren’t going to be indirectly discouraged to stop learning because the only consistent mark of doing school work is gone?

    No matter how much people don’t like it, we will have some virtual leaning next school year. Better to prepare for that than ignore it. If the district isn’t already sorting out devices and wifi hot spots, that’s a problem. If the district isn’t designing instructional materials that can be used for any class, that’s a problem. Dekalb messed up virtual learning in March because it didn’t plan and it couldn’t wait. Other school districts and universities gave their instructors time to prepare. We were given one day. Unfortunately, the absence of any preparation doesn’t suggest it will be much better this year. Are we going to learn all we need to know about in-person teaching and virtual teaching and Covid safety protocols during pre-planning?

    For those citing a seemingly low death rate and less vulnerability for children, those aren’t “facts” I would use for my own family’s safety. If our cases keep going up, and there’s nothing to indicate they won’t, we will continue to see other healthcare needs suffer. Once flu season hits, what happens? We still don’t know what happens to someone who gets infected a second time. Too many unknowns that non-scientists are content to argue as fact because doing what we need to isn’t fun and isn’t convenient.

    16
  56. Vanessa Thompson

    How many of our newer buildings have permanent, fixed windows that don’t open?

    8
  57. I’m thinking about Dekalb’s two Schools of the Arts, where many students major or minor in music and therefore *must* take band/orchestra or chorus which *requires* them to be blowing hard in a room together. Plus, at DSA, the class periods are very long because the full school day is divided into just 4 classes. Stan, have y’all considered letting individual school principals make the reopening decision?

    2
  58. @Rachel. I don’t know how much input the principals will have, but the learning model used will be on a school by school basis.

  59. I have questions

    @waitingforgodot

    They don’t know the answers to any of those questions. We’re going to be thrown in there with no adequate preparation or training and when things go terribly wrong, they’ll blame the teachers. It always happens. Teachers are basically screaming that it’s a bad idea to go back to fully teaching in person with no protections/precautions and nobody is listening. It’s almost as if the people in charge have forgotten that we’re college educated and experienced working in these settings. If we’re telling people that this is going to get really bad, we should be taken seriously. It’s funny how we’re fully expected to properly execute anything that’s thrown our way, but not valued enough to take our suggestions into consideration.

    24
  60. DSW2Contributor

    Fulton County Schools will announce its decision on Monday during their next board meeting. Superintendent Mike Looney said on twitter that he would prefer face-to-face classes, but may be forced to continue virtual classes due to the pandemic:
    https://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/looney-covid-19-cases-may-need-to-come-down-for-fulton-s-schools-to-have/article_c09f3a28-b7df-11ea-9129-0b576f16005e.html

    3
  61. The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates getting kids physically back to school this Fall and provides guidelines for doing so. Keep in mind these are actual pediatric doctors, not academics playing with computer models.

    From the article linked below:

    “Schools are critical to addressing racial and social inequity. School closure and virtual educational modalities have had a differential impact at both the individual and population level for diverse racial, ethnic, and vulnerable groups, according to the guidance. Evidence from spring 2020 school closures points to negative impacts on learning. Children and adolescents also have been placed at higher risk of morbidity and mortality from physical or sexual abuse, substance use, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.
    “The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school,” according to the guidance. These coordinated interventions intend “to mitigate, not eliminate, risk” of SARS-CoV-2.
    From AAP:
    https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/06/26/schoolreopening062620

    From healthychildren.org:
    https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Return-to-School-During-COVID-19.aspx

    1
  62. I have questions

    David S,

    Posting articles written by people who don’t work in schools everyday does very little to alleviate teachers’ concerns about how this is going to work. Teachers are fully aware of the importance of in-person teaching and how some of our students will be short changed if they are not in school. I have purchased groceries for families of my students who were short on food during this pandemic. I have spent hours online and on the phone helping students with assignments, all while neglecting my own children’s needs, to ensure that my students got the help they needed. I have no problem doing whatever is needed to make sure my students are okay. HOWEVER, when I chose to be a teacher, I did NOT sign on to be a martyr or to risk my life unnecessarily, and that is what will happen without a clear and reasonable/practical plan for opening schools. I have my own children, my own family, and my own health to consider. As our employer, DeKalb is required to provide a safe work environment. I haven’t seen or heard any indication that DeKalb has a plan that will enable them to do this. We are professionals who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on degrees and certifications to do this job well, and we deserve to be treated as such. Not taking our concerns into consideration is a slap in the face.

    28
  63. Vanessa Thompson

    @I have questions
    Nobody outside of a school has any idea how much of their hearts, souls, and finances teacher pour into schools and their students, willingly…. food, clothes, utility bills, gas for cars, school supplies. It is an endless list given with love and dedication.
    And there is no way that that schools can guarantee the health and safety of building employees in a pandemic. Teachers are always the last considered.
    Such as in snow storms…you can’t leave the building until the last child leaves.

    13
  64. Stan the Superintendent starts tomorrow. Is the Board going to call a meeting or is this decision waiting until the 13th. That leaves teachers 2 weeks to plan. That doesn’t seem right.

    7
  65. Stan Jester

    I don’t know how many days the superintendent needs to come in, assess the situation and make a decision/recommendation.

    2
  66. Hi,
    Stan, as you are well aware, school for teachers is set to begin on the 27th, and children are to go back on the 3rd of August. Surely there has been communication. This timeline is not giving teachers or parents enough time to plan for the return. In addition, will the schools have time to be cleaned and prepared for the return of students? I know anxiety levels are high and increasing due to not knowing what will happen. Parents will need to plan for childcare for their children if they are going back to work. Schools need to have some major cleaning and disinfecting, etc. Surely we will not have to wait until a week before school is supposed to open for teachers before we find out anything?

    8
  67. Dunwoody Diva

    I am hopeful that maybe they will put off the first day of school until August 10 or 17 as Fulton County has decided.
    A new super needs time to acclimate before making these big decisions and we don’t need to “ fly by the seat of your pants” way that DeKalb has done some Other times.
    Take some time and do it slowly, simply and correctly.

    19
  68. DSW2Contributor

    ^^ It is extremely unlikely that DCSD schools will reopen on August 3 *IF* the incoming Superintendent & School Board decide to follow the “Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools” document that GA DOE produced:.
    https://www.georgiainsights.com/uploads/1/2/2/2/122221993/georgias_k-12_recovery_plan.pdf

    We are still having “Substantial Spread” of the Covid-19 virus — the Dept. of Public Health’s daily graph of cases in Dekalb County clearly shows that the number of new cases keeps going up. Governor Kemp has also extended the public health emergency until at least August 11.

    GA DOE’s Recovery Plan says for “Substantial Spread” that “Schools that are closed, remain closed” (Page 2) and that the Instructional Model will be “Distance/Remote Learning.” (Page 3) It also says that “School buildings are closed; districts should require only that essential staff report in-person to carry out functions that are absolutely necessary.” (Page 5)

    1
  69. I would rather see a delayed start rather than distance learning. DL was, in my opinion, an abysmal failure to so many of our students-particularly ESOL and special ed, as well as those in low SES situations (those living in hotels, 1 device for multiple family members, lack of wifi, parents who had to choose between work and staying home with their children, etc.). DL works for some families-but there are too many in our district for whom it doesn’t. I definitely think a delayed start, and either a hybrid model, or as many school systems are doing, giving parents a choice between DL and in person learning. This is definitely a very difficult decision to make, and awaiting a decision is extremely anxiety-provoking for parents, staff, and students.

    2
  70. waitingforgodot

    Can anyone wanting in-person school in four weeks help me see how that’s going to happen when our number of cases are increasing daily, anyone from our state has to quarantine for 14 days when visiting the New York tri-state area, and we are banned from traveling to Europe?

    5
  71. Still anxious

    I think a delay in starting is appropriate–but distance learning did not work–so I don’t know what the answer. Total distance learning does not work due to so many variables with so many of our students. I do know that whatever is decided should be decided soon. Surely the new superintendent has been in discussion and has done research about the situation here so that she has some idea of what’s going on. There are so many things to consider–in many families, there is no one to take care of the children if the parents have to work–and with the governor opening up the state as much as he is, that is a real situation. In addition, with so many things closed and children being unsupervised, so much can happen. There is no one for the children to report to if abuse is occurring. Children in many families are falling very far behind academically. There is no easy answer and people are going to be unhappy whatever is decided. I really like the idea of letting the parents choose whether to send their children to school or do virtual learning. That seems to be what the majority of school systems around here are doing. Such a tough decision to make.

  72. Just Wondering

    What about having the high schools do DL for everyone, since those students are old enough to stay home alone? Special needs students could still attend face to face if necessary and you could use left over classrooms to space out the middle or elementary students who choose face to face and have ALL certified teachers (from the county office, ISS, etc.) go back into classrooms to teach. Just throwing out ideas…

    8
  73. Still anxious

    I like that idea generally, but I want to add that for many ESOL students at the high school and middle school should be added to the list for in person instruction. They need that face to face.

    4
  74. You do know...

    What people need to understand is that distant learning was not successful because teachers had a day (only a couple of hours in some buildings) to prepare. Couple that with a lack of training and that’s what you get. Teaching online and teaching face to face are totally different. If the district provides adequate training, I think remote teaching could be way more effective than it was in the Spring.

    6
  75. I have answers

    You Do Know, Why is it that all the parents and students at private schools I talk to had completely different experiences than the students at DCSD? The private school teachers had the same amount of time to prepare.

    Teachers always refer to themselves as “professionals” and “college educated”. Any chance you college educated professionals can figure something out for yourselves without needing it spoon fed to you with “adequate training”?

    When distance learning fails in the Fall, what’s the excuse going to be? Not enough training … that’s my guess … that’s always a standard go to.

  76. Vanessa Thompson

    The biggest cause for failure in DL this spring revolved around the fact that the grades and activities did not count and were regarded as extra credit.
    Yes, faculty did need assistance with virtual education but they were onboard, giving it their all..
    DeKalb has never held parents accountable for their responsibilities in their children’s education

    11
  77. I agree that lack of training may have been part of the reason for DL not being successful, but I believe a larger issue was access by the students and the fact that some students need that face to face instruction.
    DL is great for some-but not all. It’s not a one size fits all. ESOL, Special Zed students, chilDren in some low SES situations in which there are families living in small apartments or hotels, families in which both parents have to work and cannot afford childcare-there are way too many variables to say that lack of training and preparation time for teachers was the main reason.

  78. I have answers

    What kind of training do our college educated professional teachers need to provide distance learning? What do they need to be trained on that it’s too much for them to figure out on their own?

    1
  79. Vanessa Thompson

    There are numerous platforms that can be used in virtual learning. It is no longer just the simple posting and response format. It takes a bit of practice to learn to navigate each platform….zoom, google, teams, flip grid..and the list goes on. It’s a skill set worlds away from face to face instruction. Our teachers are very capable but they also have a learning curve.

    5
  80. DSW2Contributor

    “We can reopen schools in the fall — if we close bars and gyms now “:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/07/01/reopen-schools-close-bars/

    The authors are Boston University Associate Professor Helen E. Jenkins and Harvard Associate Professor of Epidemiology William Hanage.

    2
  81. Answers has not provided a single SOLUTION.

    After reading this thread ‘I Have Answers’, has yet to provide a single solution. Since you claim to be impacted by all of this, I assume that you are a parent? Grandparent? Perhaps a community member? I want to make something clear. Teachers had 1 day to prepare for a complete transition to virtual learning. Teachers don’t just refer to themselves as professionals, they ARE professionals. Teachers don’t just refer to themselves are ‘college-educated’, they ARE college-educated. Those are the facts. Teachers worked their behinds off during Virtual Learning, making the absolute BEST that they could out of an UNPRECEDENTED situation.

    What you also need to keep in mind is that teachers had to work within the bounds given by the county (i.e. work load requirements, number of assignments, grading procedures, time limits, standards to be taught, etc.). Teachers had to remain flexible to the needs of students and the ever-changing requirements coming from schools and the county. Teachers did the best that they could under the circumstances.

    I agree that virtual learning could have been more effective than it was. however, the blame does not fall squarely on teachers. That was a structural issue, based on county decisions.

    Decisions like:
    – student work time limits as low as 10-15 minutes a WEEK per subject for some grades
    – the ‘Virtual Learning 2.0 schedule did not maximize time (i.e. M- Math & Science; T – Specials; Wednesday ELA & SS; TH- Conferencing, F- teacher work day
    -only allowing teachers to teach priority standards
    – final grades could not be lower than the March grade

    I don’t believe that this means that teachers are not ‘professionals’. Would you expect a pediatrist to successfully perform a heart surgery? A neurologist to perform the duties of an optometrist? After all, they’re all doctors. They all went to medical school. However, one is not inherently qualified to do the work of the other. Does that mean that they are not professionals? Or educated? It just highlights the importance of training.

    Traditional in-person teaching and EFFECTIVE online instruction are completely different animals. Quick research could clarify that fact for you. Training provides teachers with the best-practices and the research-based strategies needed to effectively reach students. Teachers need adequate training, reasonable county requirements, and the SPACE to act as professionals to do what is best for students.

    Your attacks on teachers are disheartening and honestly off-putting. So, yes, we ’college educated professionals can figure something out for [ourselves] without needing it spoon fed to [us] with “adequate training”? We do it all the time. With a lack of acknowledgment and support from stakeholders like you.

    31
  82. I totally agree with most of what you are saying. It was a moving target for everyone while the district and teachers had to respond to varying demands. The District promised that staff would be trained. Did this happen? I’m not blaming teachers if it didn’t but I want to know what help teachers received to prepare them for the Fall.

  83. @I have answers: Yes, teachers are college-educated professionals. However, you can’t just tell teachers to teach online without giving them some training. DeKalb has the platforms VERGE and Microsoft TEAMS, but most teachers did not use either until they were forced to use them when schools closed. While teachers were trained on VERGE (and should have known how to use it), very few were trained on TEAMS. Not to mention that no one was trained on ZOOM or Google Classroom because they weren’t County supported platforms. After the first two weeks of virtual instruction, the county had too many complaints from parents that kids were having to spend too much time on the computer each day to complete assignments. Most teachers planned for a 45 minute lesson each day and then assumed the students would complete an approximate 30 minute homework assignment each day. Teachers were then told to cut their WEEKLY instruction down to two days a week, and limit that instruction to less than an hour for each of the two days (that hour includes introducing the lesson AND completing the assignment). From what I have heard, many private schools had instruction as if it were a normal school day–requiring the students to be online at their normal school time. Since grades didn’t matter, many students didn’t complete the assignments. In addition to students not having the technology to complete the work, many teachers did not have the technology either. If they could afford it, some teachers had to go out and purchase new computers to use because their old ones were being used by other members of the family. Not all teachers could provide ZOOM meetings because they didn’t have a camera to use. In the corporate world, if employees are asked to work from home, aren’t they given the appropriate equipment to do the job (if they don’t have it) or are they told to go out and buy what they need to do their job (and not get reimbursed)?

    If distance learning is to work, then students and teachers need to have access to the equipment and software (with proper training) to do the job. Students should be required to be online during the hours they would normally be at school (then complete assignments “after school” just like homework is done normally). Students would receive meaningful grades for assignments, and teachers would have access to programs that would help alleviate cheating (which happens more than anyone cares to admit). Private schools understand this and had these programs in place BEFORE the shut-down. Will things be better this school year? Only time will tell.

    11
  84. I have questions

    Curious,

    I completely agree. Virtual Learning was haphazard and we absolutely needed more training and time to ensure the process went smoothly. I’m open to anything the district wants us to do as long as the health and safety of teachers and students remain the top priorities. Covid is (hopefully) temporary. It would be a shame to rush this process, bending to the demands of people who won’t be sitting in schools during this pandemic, and lose teachers and students permanently over a temporary situation. There’s got to be a better plan than just throwing us in there and hoping for the best. We can all see the numbers rising, and it’s going to be much worse when schools open up unless there are clear plans to mitigate the spread of the virus in schools. Districts won’t even mandate that kids wear masks. That’s the bare minimum safety measure. It’s obvious that these districts do not care about the health of their teachers, but if they want schools to remain open teachers’ health and safety should be the top priority. These schools will not run if we’re too sick to show up. It seems as if the people in charge don’t understand that.

    8
  85. Just Wondering

    Here’s another idea…let the HS students do 4×4 block, so that they are only responsible for 4 classes per semester, not 6 or 7. Also, in this scenario, teachers have 3 classes to prepare for and teach, not 5. Seems like it is much easier to manage for all.

    And I’m sure the private schools didn’t treat their DL as extra credit. Kids (especially at the HS level) are going to be much more diligent and serious about DL if they know it can negatively affect their grade in the class and their overall GPA.

    And when are we going to stop blaming access? I know at my school, EVERY child who wanted a chrome book was given one. Even after we left the building, our admins were calling the houses of students who hadn’t logged on and done any DL and making sure they had what they needed. I realize that not all the ES had enough, but if more are being purchased, then that shouldn’t be an issue. Of course, if we do DL with only HS kids, there should be adequate access.

    As far as the issue of training and teachers being “professionals,” the problem wasn’t that we didn’t know WHAT to do with our students. The biggest issues to me were:

    1. The mandated platform not being adequate/reliable/user friendly.

    2. All work treated as extra credit.

    3. The “guidelines” we were given by the county office kept changing (first there were none, so we did what was best for our students; then parents complained that there was no schedule, so they made a schedule; then parents and students complained about having too much work, so then the “schedule” was changed to each class for two days a week and teachers could only give 30 minutes of work per day.) This problem could be alleviated by doing the 4×4 block mentioned above for HS.

    4. The county changed our grade book “rules” three times. First, all they said was to label all the DL assignments as VLA (virtual learning assignment) and a number, but we could count those assignments in whatever category best fit. THEN, they told us, no, all the VLA assignments had to go in the 45% category, THEN they changed AGAIN and said to put it wherever it helped the students the most! They are constantly changing the rules on us. It is very frustrating.

    Teachers ARE college educated and professional, but the way we are treated by parents and administration, you’d be hard-pressed to believe it. Wow, it seems like just yesterday that parents were singing the praises of teachers and proclaiming that we should be paid more and fill our wish lists. Guess we are back to being the ugly, red-headed stepchildren of the working world.

    9
  86. Some high schools are already doing 4×4. Access is still an issue-wifi, one device fir a whole family, lack of space to complete assignments, etc. So, yes access is an issue. Once again-the special ed and ESOL kids need that face to face no matter what grade. The teachers can do an awesome job of teaching-and many did even under those difficult circumstances, but DL does not work for every student. This is where I see parental choice being a good thing. Once again, there is no simple answer. It’s frustrating for everyone. Every point made by people responding to this conversation has a valid point. That’s why it’s such a difficult decision to make.

    4
  87. I have questions

    I have answers,
    We all know how to use computers. Training comes in the form of guidance for how the district wants us to implement Virtual Learning. The district gave no guidance on the apps and platforms they wanted teachers to use, so every teacher was using what they usually used in the classroom. They also gave no guidance for how they wanted our schedules to look until we were two or three weeks into VL. For VL to work, there has to be uniformity across the district. That didn’t happen. The district also failed to ensure that every student had the technology and training to successfully do VL. If given time to prepare, teachers could have taught students and parents how to use these platforms, or DeKalb could have hosted workshops for parents. Many of our days were spent on the phone with parents, trying to teach them how to access platforms. VL wasn’t as successful as it could have been due to lack of preparation, not due to the unwillingness of teachers to try to make it work. DeKalb hosted virtual summer school opportunities this year and, speaking from personal experience, the program was amazing. Why? Because it was well planned and teachers executed the plan very well. That same amount of planning needs to go into VL, and not just the hour we had on the same day we found out schools were being shut down. If you are a parent who struggled with using a computer, or struggled to help your student with assignments, just say that. That’s a valid concern that the district can address. But if you just want to bash teachers, at least do so with facts instead of misguided and uninformed opinions.

    7
  88. I have questions

    Just wondering,

    Our school did not give out Chromebooks, but I think that would have helped. There were concerns that the Chromebooks would be damaged or lost, which is valid. Has your school been able to get them back, or are you all waiting until you return?

    2
  89. Just Wondering

    I have questions,

    I’m not sure if they tried to get them back or not. And I didn’t mean to imply that they just handed them out willy-nilly. Students and parents had to sign for them as usual, so there is a record of who has what in case of damage or loss.

    1
  90. I have questions

    Just Wondering,

    Did your school have, 100% (or close to it) participation in VL? I think access to tech and grades actually counting would have made a HUGE difference. Any leverage teachers had was taken away the minute parents and students learned that grades wouldn’t count. I understand why the county made that decision, but it essentially put the nail in the coffin for VL’s success.

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  91. Just Wondering

    IHQ,

    Our participation numbers were abysmal. And I think access was only a fraction of it. Mostly it was, as you said, student apathy.

    And to whoever asked, no, we have not gotten any training this summer.

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  92. “Answers has not provided a single SOLUTION” and “Curious:”
    You two folks have provided some of the most insightful information I’ve read on this thread. I think most people consider the district’s attempt at distance learning an unmitigated disaster, and it was no one entity’s fault – certainly not the teachers.
    In the Navy we always had a “Debrief” after any exercise, particularly training evolutions. We looked at what we had accomplished, noted what we did well and what we didn’t do so well and established what resources we needed moving forward.
    I’m curious as to whether the district (or even school principals) reached out to teachers for this kind of input/critique following the end of the school year. And if not, why not? You folks are “in the field” so to speak and could provide a wealth of information as to what worked, what didn’t, and how to fix the things that need fixing.
    On another note, I think “Just Wondering’s” suggestion is worth considering – use high school space to spread out elementary students and use DL for high school students. I think we’d be wasting everyone’s time trying to teach elementary students with DL. They need that personal interaction for instruction, correction, and encouragement. Not to mention learning to socially interact with classmates. HS students can use this as well, but by that age they’re comfortable with a computer and are used to reading, researching, and writing with it.
    Schedule? I assume the district has been working hard to put a plan into place. But if they need more time to work out the kinks, take it. Give teachers the training on computer platforms if they need it. Maybe even offer it to parents so they can properly support their kids. There’s nothing magic about a particular start date. It’s a day on a calendar.

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  93. Just another perspective. My oldest is in private. The distance learning we received was so bad that I am enrolling my youngest in public. We received a bazillion worksheets and 5 out of 30 minutes worth of teaching on 1 Zoom call per day (the rest was just chit chat).. Public may not end up much different, but there was no way I was going to pay for it again. Several private kids I know are switching public for Fall for same reason. Grass isn’t always greener!

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  94. Nervous Teacher

    We need time to adjust to the “new normal”. Unless they want us to fail again implementing something (distance learning) that was so rarely used….

  95. Parental option

    Too bad there’s not an option for HS students to use GA State and other colleges here in the metro area to dual enroll. The county ended signups in April, when we all thought this was going to be done by the fall. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that option now?

    Pushing highschoolers home is going to hurt kids across the spectrum. Kids who are inclined to skip school are going to skip school, and take many of their friends with them. Kids signed up for AP classes are going to be royally screwed by having to teach themselves. So no, having HS kids at home just so mom and dad can go to work isn’t the answer.

    I go back to the parental option that other counties are doing. Either online or in person, parents choose and must stick with that choice for one semester.

    And just a question – why is there no discussion around canceling all breaks between school opening and Thanksgiving so there can be a longer break, or better yet doing like colleges where in person stops at Thanksgiving (and finals are online)?

  96. I have questions

    Got an emergency alert from DeKalb this morning saying that the number of cases is rapidly increasing. They implored residents to stay home, wear masks, and practice social distancing. So, again, how are we going to start school in person in a few weeks when DeKalb isn’t even meeting the minimum guidelines for opening up?

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  97. @ I have questions,
    At this point, I seriously doubt we will return this fall. We need to focus on improving our distance learning capability. In a San Francisco district, 40 principals are now under quarantine after being exposed to covid during a face to face meeting on reopening schools. If school were in session, and an entire staff needed to quarantine, the school has to shut down for 2 weeks. It’s too much disruption.

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  98. At this point, I’m not even speculating anymore-it’s exhausting. Who knows what we’ll do?

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  99. Vanessa Thompson

    If you have experienced lice or a stomach virus move thru a class, you can only imagine Covid!
    I really think randomly opening and closing schools would be a disaster that won’t go away until a vaccine is available.
    I’m thinking that a planned virtual learning experience would serve us best.
    Surely the layers and layers of leadership at the palace can develop a cohesive plan. They’ve had all summer

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