DeKalb Schools Re-Opening Update

Will DeKalb Schools open on August 3rd as planned and what will learning look like when DeKalb Schools opens?

DeKalb Schools Re-Opening School Task Force built a DeKalb Schools Opening 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. I have read every comment and appreciate the lively online conversation.

Marshall Orson is currently the chair of the DeKalb Schools Board of Education. He addresses some of the most frequently asked questions about opening DeKalb Schools in the Fall.

Marshall Orson DeKalb Schools

Marshall Orson
2020 Chair of the DeKalb Schools Board of Education

Not surprising, the number one subject in my inbox is about the reopening of school. We will announce our plans at our next school Board meeting on July 13th. Part of the delay arises from allowing our new Supt. (who started just 4 days ago) a chance to evaluate our situation, and to apply lessons learned as the number 2 person in NYC to our situation in DeKalb and Metro Atlanta.

With that said, here is what I expect and what still remains unclear:

1. The clear trend is Metro Atlanta is to push the first day of school to August 17th (e.g. Cobb and Fulton have done so). I suspect we will do something comparable.

2. I expect we will be a hybrid of in-person and virtual instruction. What that looks like is still a work in progress. I do not think we will have split shifts (morning and afternoon) because, among other things, I do not think our transportation system could support that system-wide.

3. I expect the reentry into our buildings will be gradual so that we can learn what are the obstacles to operating a school that has to change many of its standard procedures.

4. We will need to figure out how to best accommodate our vulnerable populations—students and staff—and to understand that vulnerability takes many forms—health, economics, access.

5. We will all need to be flexible and to understand that we will be in a dynamic and fluid situation. Decisions made one day may not hold a week later if circumstances change dramatically.

6. We will be making these modifications in the midst of tremendous pressure on the budget. We have to make decisions that not only hold now but also a year from now (when financially things could be worse) and for when the crises (health and financial) abate.

We are going to do our best and we will need everyone’s help to get through these challenges. Meanwhile, I hope all are safe and well.

Marshall Orson
Chair of DeKalb Schools Board of Education

249 responses to “DeKalb Schools Re-Opening Update

  1. Dekalb teacher

    So… he’s voting for furloughs?

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  2. Veteran Teacher

    Thank you for the update. I have concerns though. If we go to the hybrid schedule (probably two days in school and virtual three days) what type of accommodations will be made for teachers with school-age children. Please don’t give us furlough days and then force us to pay for childcare.

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  3. Has there EVER been a better time to break up this school system into 5 or 6 VERY independent districts with their own superintendents?

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  4. Stan Jester

    @Veteran Teacher. Is your preference for students and teachers to go back to school full time?

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  5. Veteran Teacher

    I like the hybrid schedule for safety and health reasons. But I believe many of our teachers will have children unattended st home three days a week or pay for childcare. Think about a teacher that has a second and fourth grader. Plus if Friday is designated as total virtual day, will teachers be allowed to work from home

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  6. Dekalb parent

    If we go back Aug 17, will this mean all the breaks are up for re evaluation or will they remain as is?

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  7. Stan Jester

    @DeKalb Parent. Many people have already made plans around the current breaks. It doesn’t seem likely that the school district will change any breaks.

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  8. Teacher with young kids

    As a teacher with a 5 and 7 year old, I don’t see how hybrid will be successful for teachers with young children. How are they expected to teach their students and own children? What if my in-person days vary from my kids’? What about the parents who work hourly jobs or are single parents? The young students need to be in the classroom. You can’t expect real learning to take place virtually. Brain pop, IXL, and worksheets are not long term solutions for learning. Lastly, please give parents enough time to make plans for childcare. Waiting to announce July 13th is very last minute considering the fact teachers were to report July 27 and likely already had kids signed up for childcare.

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  9. DSW2Contributor

    “Georgia Tech Professors Revolt Over Reopening, Say Current Plan Threatens Lives Of Students, Staff ”
    https://www.gpbnews.org/post/georgia-tech-professors-revolt-over-reopening-say-current-plan-threatens-lives-students-staff
    Tech’s fall semester is supposed to start on August 23

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  10. I am a high school teacher with a first grader also in the district. I am concerned about what potential hybrids could look like if I have to report on a day that my daughter does not. For example if I am working at school 4 days a week and my daughter only has school two days a week. Can she attend everyday? If The hybrid is that we are just allowing parents to opt to keep their children home and learn virtually then it won’t matter. My concern is that the hybrid alters attendance days. Also no furloughs please.

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  11. Veteran Teacher

    Matt, I understand your concern. I surely hope that the Board and Superintendent will allow teacher’s children to attend school all four days. Stan please make sure that the Board is aware of our concerns.

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  12. Is there a chance w the cases and hospitalizations spiking they will opt to do online only initially versus hybrid? It seems like if you are stepping foot in a classroom – even an hour a week- you are exposing yourself. Of concern are the new studies coming from France that link even mild cases w neurological insult (this from someone I personally know on the CDC task force. This may not be fully published yet….). The truth is they just don’t know much about this virus, especially the long-term fallout. It is nothing to be taken lightly. What will happen in a few months when COVID looks like cold or flu? Will everyone need to get tested in a class again and again? Is this ok to put kids through? What if they don’t have insurance? At what point is it just not worth it for a few months? I feel sorry for the teachers also risking themselves. I work at the hospital, and I have more than a cloth mask. I would not feel comfortable around so many people with anything less. To add- I can see how it would be exhausting for some kids/learning styles to not see a teacher’s mouth all day and rely on mainly auditory information. We talk about about some kids being more disadvantaged in the district which is absolutely true….but couldn’t kids bringing home this virus to a neighborhood where people might live in closer quarters be also devastating? What about primarily distance learning to start- keep everyone safe- see how it works for the other districts rushing in. For those who need in-person learning- that be offered somehow (x hours a week, in x cafeteria or rooms, something like a study hall with lunches, WiFi, computer access?). Will teachers who need to stay home be linked and in charge of distance learning for the kids who also opt to stay home? I’m assuming quite a few kids will not show up for in-person learning. It would seem like it would be too much for one teacher to have to manage some online kids and some in-person kids. Could this be a short-term solution to kick the can only the overcrowding issues? Also….is it developmentally appropriate to keep kids in their class all day for eating, etc? Please don’t force kindergarten to come for in-person learning like… Fulton (?). So many questions….I know you don’t have the answers. Just want to throw out what I’m hearing others say and thinking myself!

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  13. Stan Jester

    @B. Good questions. Has any metro Atlanta school district said they are going back completely virtual?

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  14. Concerned Teacher and Parent

    I have children who are very vulnerable to complications of this virus. A hybrid model does not protect their safety, nor would it prevent me from contracting the virus and giving it to them. Will teachers be able to resign without losing our certifications? At this point, that seems like the only option to protect our children.

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  15. Here’s what I know regarding breaks and furloughs in other districts…
    Cobb is not canceling their week breaks for fall and winter despite starting students 2 weeks later. There is no reason for us to change anything.
    Catoosa had planned furloughs and a 5% pay cut. They cancelled both once the 14% cut was lowered to 10% from the state. We can be creative if we need to. Plus, inexpect the tax digest is going up regardless of the millage rate based on my assessment. I can’t imagine that’s only in the Lithonia area.

    Personally, I think an August 17 start date for the students (leave the teachers starting back July 27 as planned) is actually good if we’re going hybrid. This is going to take a lot of planning to get a hybrid system right for students.

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  16. Veteran Teacher

    B, are you advocating that we go back completely virtual but be available for in-person on certain days or hours for those students that need help?

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  17. Hybrid is HORRIBLE

    A hybrid option exposes teachers EVERY DAY to the virus because they will see students on a daily basis, while only the kids (and really the families that have a SAHM or can afford childcare, tutors, etc) gain any level of benefit with a hybrid A/B schedule. How is that fair to working parents and teachers? What about parents who have young children that can’t stay home alone – who will watch them on the off days? What about special needs students and those with IEPs? They require more socialization than other students— especially regarding their specific disability. Is the board including a clause for them? Is the board willing to fight the massive number of lawsuits that will arise because because a child with an IEP who can’t attend school full-time is for sure not getting FAPE— especially if other districts are offering it. Easy loss for Dekalb.

    For all of the reasons above, Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, and Marietta ALL gave parents the option of either FULL face to face instruction OR full-time virtual. Why would Dekalb not do the same?

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  18. Of all the districts, I personally find Rockdale’s the most interesting so far. They pushed back the dates even more than Fulton, grades 4 and up start off at home…K-3 meet up to get acquainted w distance learning and devices etc (I don’t love it, but I get it… maybe this could more of an orientation in groups versus whole days)..I’m surprised Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett are pushing for in-person (with remote option) when our data (hospitalizations, positivity rate, lack of true contact tracing availability….) clearly disagrees and is worsening. I feel most people are still trying to keep to themselves and be careful, but even that isn’t enough these last few weeks. I would venture to also say most people aren’t hanging out with more than 10 unrelated others in a single room for 6+ hours right now….

    It will be interesting to see what APS does. A few weeks ago, I would have been more open to trying in-person, but I would prefer not to start that way now. August 17 is even too soon to really appreciate the fallout from this weekend.

    A few weeks of primarily remote teaching would allow the district to observe and learn from the other districts. It would also better allow the teachers to focus on one medium and to feel more comfortable. I understand that many parents need kids in school for childcare, but it seems people have had to figure that out for a while now since this has been going on since March. I have kept my eyes peeled for what Georgia districts are doing. So far, I’ve only heard of remote only from friends up North.

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  19. Stan Jester

    From my poof view, virtual learning this past Spring didn’t go that well. How do teachers see this Fall being any different if we do full virtual learning?

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  20. @veteran teacher

    For your sake, I’m advocating remote for a few initial weeks at a minimum. I am not sure how it could work for you guys- but for us we take turns being “on call.” Maybe there might be enough teachers who even volunteer to be available in-person hours? Were you guys surveyed separately? Do they even know that all of you would come back in-person? I’m genuinely concerned for you.

    I most definitely cannot replace a trained and experienced teacher in my home, but I’m hopeful remote learning would not be long-term in the grand scheme of things. The vaccines are moving along…my personal vote is home until Dec then re-evaluate.

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  21. @Stan. I think distance was so hard in Spring bc it was thrown at everyone. If the mindset is that is what we are starting with and this is why…I am hopeful it could be different. I bet everyone learned a lot- I sure did!

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  22. Stan Jester

    @B. Thank you for the valuable feedback. How do you expect virtual learning to be different moving forward?

  23. DSW2Contributor

    ^^^^^ B, I think APS is going to start falling apart this year, now that the idiots on the APS school board hired a Superintendent who could NOT pass the teaching certification exam and who greatly exaggerated her work experience in DCSD!

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  24. Veteran Teacher

    With full time virtual, we MUST hold students and parents accountable.

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  25. Stan Jester

    @VeteranTeacher. Hold students and parents accountable… what does that look like in your opinion?

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  26. Pre-existing Teacher

    I’d feel comfortable going back to work if masks were mandatory for all students who could safely/reasonably wear them.

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  27. DSW2Contributor

    Arne Duncan, Obama’s Secretary of Education., was interviewed about reopening schools:
    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/back-to-school-arne-duncan-former-secretary-education/id1504128553?i=1000477395256

    He lists conditions that should be met before schools are reopened. He also says that schools should determine which children most need to be in school and have those children come back first.

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  28. Veteran Teacher

    @Stan. Students and parents must be made aware that there will be failures. Last Spring all the pressure was put on teachers. Students and parents were notified that work was not being completed. There was pressure on teachers to pass students. Many students passed that should have failed. Teachers will continue to handle their classes the same if we are in-person or virtual. Let us teach regardless, we will contact parents as usual. Their should not be a difference. All assignments are due and graded regardless if it is in-person or virtual. That did not happen last Spring. As for I am concerned, school was out on March 16 for students and parents.

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  29. Sarcasm Intended

    @ “Full Time Teacher” Regarding your comment… “With full time virtual, we MUST hold students and parents accountable.”

    It’s become all too clear that teacher’s don’t want to be held accountable. Maybe we should just scrap the teachers and go to a full virtual at home model. Parents are obviously the greatest influence on our kids educational success.

    Sure, the kids with uneducated parents will suffer, but hey…

    It will free up more money for other social welfare progams.

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  30. Veteran Teacher

    @Stan. If we were full virtual, students should be on TEAMS with their teacher according to their school schedule. If a student has English from 8:10 to 9:40, then all students scheduled during that time slot should be on TEAMS with their teacher. Otherwise they are absent from school. Then they would have their second period class with that teacher. Instruction then continues. I don’t know how it would be done for elementary and middle schools.

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  31. Sarcasm Intended

    Ironically, a “Veteran Teacher” used “Their” instead of “There” in the post preceeding mine. DeKalb County at its best….

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  32. NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    The fair and democratic way is to give parents the option of either FULL face to face instruction OR full-time virtual. Virtual learning is damaging education (is one can call it educational at all): students suffer socially, mentally, emotionally. physically

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  33. There, their

    @Sarcasm

    Explain the error to us please?

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  34. Stan Jester

    Parents by and large want traditional face to face learning.

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  35. Veteran Teacher

    To everyone, FULL face to face does not protect teachers. Students probably will not be required to wear masks. Without teachers, there will be no instruction

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  36. Stan Jester

    @Veteran Teacher, would you consider education an essential service?

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  37. NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    The fair and democratic way is to give parents the option of either FULL face to face instruction OR full-time virtual. Virtual learning is damaging education (is one can call it education at all): students suffer socially, mentally, emotionally. physically (lack of movement, constant screen time) and don’t make the progress academically. Virtual learning option is the way to destroy education in the US. With the push of the computers into the classrooms the literacy levels dropped dramatically, with the push of virtual learning there will be the drop with no return. NO virtual learning NO to hybrid learning (virtual learning in disguise).

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  38. Veteran Teacher

    @Stan. Never thought of it as an essential service but YES.

  39. Admittedly, I’m switching and enrolling my youngest public next year (oldest dyslexic and in private). My disclaimer is these things could have already been done….apologies if so! What didn’t work for us:

    1. One zoom call for 30 min per day w the entire class of about 20 together, where ~5 min was spent by volunteers calling out the answers to a worksheet, then remaining time kids interrupting each other and teacher (this was our private school experience…my public friends seemed to have a different experience). I wish more disciplinary action had been taken for the kids unmuting themselves and interrupting the teacher.

    What did work and could work again:
    1. All Assignments/worksheets for the week uploaded by Sunday night – might be a big ask of teachers, but this worked well for me as a working parent to get everything in order for the week. Could also be done Friday before even …maybe could give working parents the chance to have their kids do some work over the weekend when they can be more available? They wouldn’t feel as much pressure during the work week…

    2. For those who didn’t have access to printing…packets could be picked up. Our preschool set up boxes on the porch, and the teachers/admins left curbside work every few weeks. This might help with the materials access concerns?

    3. Zoom was not used effectively in our case last year, but we have been using it in tutoring all summer and it can be great! I would like to see kids split into smaller groups (whatever the teachers can do) for more active learning on zoom versus in one big group. If this is too much – what could also work well instead is the teachers pre-recording mini lessons and uploading them to YouTube so they can be viewed anytime. The wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented – the teachers in a grade could split up and record the lessons and divide and conquer. This could even take the place of zoom entirely if needed to improve flexibility?

    4. One of our grade classes still had one-on-one time w their teacher – I think it worked out to 1x/week. This was optional. I was very jealous of this. Could be too much of an ask – but quick 10-minute check-ins once a week – or even a small breakout group of 2-3 kids 1x/week. Maybe it could even be treated as “office hours” and parents sign up once a week on sign up genius for a spot and state the area of concern – all optional.

    5. For us, electives were optional. I feel they should stay optional. A list of all the art, language, music, PE zoom calls and times was posted, and kids could join if they wanted. It was not grade-specific.. The school did set up some neat programs for us to use (ie Quaver for Music). I know this could create accessibility issues. YouTube or similar could be used for short lessons (ie our French teacher filmed herself making a crepe, and it was such a neat way to do a lesson!)

    6. The teachers also posted a list of YouTube links for short videos they had found for extra learning on the topics. I’m not sure if this is would be allowed? They would create a private playlist so it was all there in one place.

    7. We scanned our work in by Sundays using a shared, Private google folder. The teacher left comments/grades. If someone isn’t able to send scans, maybe there could be a drop box or case out front of school?

    8. Could the Georgia cyber academy or something already in place be tapped into also?

    Again, apologies if these things are nothing new. I think I disliked the large daily group zoom call the most. Maybe it would have been better had it been teaching the entire call and a separate weekly time for just catching up/socializing. I liked the pre-recorded mini lessons and ability to spread the work over weekends the most.

    I think with remote learning, everyone would just have to make the best of it and cut the teachers some slack on it. Hopefully it will be a short-term solution for the purpose of keeping everyone as safe as possible.

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  40. @all the teachers

    Yes I’m aware most of the things I wrote above could be totally unrealistic or not allowed. I was a public school kid, and I am very excited for my youngest to be able to be public also. Everyone is doing their best right now, and I am appreciative.

    @pre-existing teacher

    Agreed. If the CDC recommends face masks over age 2, then they should be required as a condition for being on campus. Def should be required in hallways….if can’t be kept on in class, then I guess that’s where the best physical spacing available has to come in. I think if they choose to do in-person, they shouldn’t off the bat make them optional. They should be required initially per CDC guidelines and expectations adjusted from there. The kids abroad are doing it. You prob didn’t sign up to be an essential worker in a pandemic. Since you don’t have N95 masks, two people wearing cloth masks is the best way for you to be protected.

    @Stan did most of the survey responses show majority wants in-person?

    @no hybrid. I do think there is some silver lining to all this though? Our neighborhood is full of kids outside now. It has forced my shy oldest to reach out to friends and make effort. We have been around each other more as a family. Hopefully this is just temporary and lasting any damage can be lessened

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  41. WE are DeKalb.

    @stanjester The county needs to come up with a well thought through plan, based around research-based strategies and best-practices as it pertains to online instruction. Given that there will likely be at least some period of Distance Learning required throughout the school year, this is a MUST. There is no sense in leaving everyone scrambling to figure out how to make it work when that time comes.

    As a teacher, I do not fault the county for the issues with the initial bout with Virtual Learning. None of us were prepared, there was only minimal time to act. Decisions were made in an effort to ensure equity and considerations for the situations of all students. We all did the best that we could given the circumstances. Hindsight is 20-20. HOWEVER, at this juncture, any failures with Virtual Learning, going forward, would fall squarely on the shoulders of those at the top. It is not a matter of IF Virtual Learning can work. Research tells us that it can. Failure at this point would simply be due to a lack of due-diligence, flexibility, adaptability, and innovative thinking at the county-level. Consult with Principals. Consult with TEACHERS. It will take ALL OF US.

    Students dragged in and out of school buildings, due to ‘unexpected closures’, will be more disruptive to instruction than implementing a well-structured, research-based set of best-practices and guidelines from which teachers can structure effective and impactful Virtual Instruction. We are in the midst of a global pandemic. We are grappling with a highly-contagious, AIRBORNE virus that has the potential of infecting hundreds of people at a time, under the right circumstances (i.e. indoor enclosed spaces). It is spread through the simple acts of breathing and talking. Given the steady increase in the number of cases, it would be nothing less than irresponsible to send teachers and students back into the brick-and-mortar to begin the school year. There is substantial spread in the community and numbers are rising at an alarming rate. The nature of this virus does not lend itself to ‘a safe Re-Opening’ on any level. The fact that there can be asymptomatic and Pre-symptomatic spread makes it impossible. You can spread this virus prior to ever FEELING unwell. In fact, research has shown that this is likely when you are MOST CONTAGIOUS. A temperature check won’t remedy this.

    There are too many unknowns about this virus to willingly expose teachers, students, staff, and the families of all parties. We KNOW that the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions often have the WORST outcomes (i.e. death), however we know that those who don’t fall into these groups are dealing with long-term and potentially LIFE-LONG impacts from contracting this virus. Blood clots, STROKES, heart-damage, heart attacks, lung-damage (scarring and diminished capacity), kidney damage, and neurological impacts are all recorded potential long-term consequences of infection, even in mild cases. This is not a bad cold. This is not the flu. This is not harmless. You can’t work in this field and disregard the science. ‘Learning to live with the virus’ does NOT mean business as usual. It requires adaptability, forward thinking, and innovation to reimagine how we can meet the needs of all students, while keeping all parties SAFE. Work from the science. Listen to the experts.

    As a product of DeKalb County Schools and now an educator for the county, I know the potential that Dekalb has. Please do right by your students AND teachers. We give our blood, sweat, and tears for our students and this county. We champion for our students. We fight for them. We protect them. WE ARE NOT EXPENDABLE. Do all things with caution and the care of knowing that our lives are literally in your hands. We are human. We are DeKalb.

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  42. Curious Stakeholder

    @NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    It is absolutely NOT fair to offer only a choice of full-time traditional or full-time virtual to parents, but not offer those same options to teachers without penalties. People seem to forget that teachers and staff are people with families too, and their needs and concerns need to be considered in these reopening plans as well. We all understand that students need a quality education, but honestly, health and safety should be our top priority right now for students and school staff. Learning can take place from home if all parties (teachers, students, and parents) are held accountable and do their part. We should not be sacrificing anyone’s health or compromising on providing a safe work environment when all of this can be accomplished while keeping everyone as safe as possible from home. There are several cooperations that are allowing their employees to work from home to maintain safety. This is no different.

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  43. Stan, I just have to ask, why is the Board so incredibly behind the 8 ball in making this decision? Poor planning on the Board’s and staff’s part does not constitute an emergency on the parts of parents, students and teachers. Get it together. Do research- don’t just poll parents and the public. Personally, if I still had kids in the system I would be looking at khan Academy or some other professional online learning source for the next year. The school district’s online learning has never been very good IMO. The current “hybrid” model involves worksheets from hone? And you have to scan them to turn them in? Really? That’s a terrible option.

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  44. Stan Jester

    Cere,
    The new superintendent started 5 days ago. Tyson and her administration put together a framework for opening school, but didn’t want to make the decision on exactly how to open school. This will be a decision for Watson-Harris. I expect this decision to be made public next Monday at the board meeting.

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  45. two points

    Two points from an article in the AP today that I agree with. These are both direct quotes from the article.

    1. medical experts have expressed concerns for children’s development and mental health. The American Academy of Pediatrics said it “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

    2. Near Rochester, New York, parents rallied in favor of fully opening schools, holding signs outside an administration building June 29 saying: “No normal school? No school taxes!”

    https://apnews.com/dc84344a68c0a4d5209787760ec13ea4

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  46. Arts Teacher

    The kids need to be in front of a teacher. There’s just no replacing that. If it’s the alternating plan, then fine. I’ll be working while my kids are in school regardless, and the childcare issue is one every family would have to tackle anyway. It’s a big problem with the hybrid, but one we could find solutions to given enough time. We could also hire additional staff and use some of the empty buildings to reduce class sizes.

    Arts classes in particular require face to face education, and I think you’ll find that arts education is best suited at helping students cope with emotional stresses, like our current situation. With domestic abuse cases on a sharp rise and the problems of access and hunger that many students face, some in person sessions need to happen.

    I agree that we must have a well thought out plan, even if that plan involves phases that can change. I know we have a new superintendent who will need to weigh in on this, but completed choices and a solid recommendation by the area superintendents and her staff should be in place already.

    We also need to make a decision on sports. Tennessee is most likely moving fall sports to spring, and Georgia may have to do the same.

    I have a 10th grader and a 7th grader in DeKalb, and a toddler at home. I think that, if we are going to meet, we must reduce the number of students in the building by half in order to have a chance at distancing them. Lunches in a classroom with a teacher that doesn’t eat at the same time, teachers and students in masks as often as possible, and music classes need to be adapted. I know the band teachers have already submitted a recommendation, but it hasn’t been dealt with yet, leaving all of those kids in limbo over the summer.

    Confusion breeds misunderstanding and resentment, and communication (honest communication, not CYA verbiage) can clear up a lot of problems.

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  47. Emily Mogan

    The county should adopt the two track approach similar to what other counties are doing. Either full time in person or full time virtual option. No reason to complicate matters by adopting a hybrid model. Parents who work cannot rely on a “hybrid” model. Children who need in person learning will continue to suffer, as will those left home alone when parents must work. The two track (either full time in person or full time virtual) is the only model that makes sense, addresses all concerns and pleases everyone. I urge the county to follow the models already announced by surrounding counties.

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  48. If you’re looking to those surveys to determine what parents are thinking, keep in mind that some folks filled those out 3-4 weeks ago. I filled mine out at midnight on the day of the deadline and my opinion has already changed. I said I was in favor of a hybrid, but after watching the virus rage over the last few weeks I take that back. I’m keeping my children home. And I’m hoping like hell that DeKalb will have a plan that will support me in keeping my family safe.

    I agree that virtual learning didn’t go well in the spring, but I wouldn’t take that to mean it can’t be done in the upcoming year. Now is the time that our leadership should be digging deep into what did and didn’t work with virtual learning and accessing all available resources to determine how we can be more successful in moving forward. It’s definitely not the time to be shrugging our shoulders and doing things the way we always did them before, putting our most valuable asset–our teachers–at great risk. This will only blow up in our face in multiple ways, not the least being the first time the schools get shut down for COVID, which WILL happen. We can’t avoid the reality of virtual learning so we need to be framing it as an opportunity for success, not something we should shy away from.

    One day this pandemic will be over and we need our teachers to be strong and healthy for our students. This is a long game, so we need to be playing it like one.

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  49. @Stan
    Many of the problems with Virtual Learning in the Spring were due to lack of preparation. We were all hurled into this, although some warning was given by the CDC. 2wks prior to the outbreak, the CDC warned parents to get ready, that “it’s not a matter of if the virus will hit the United States, but it’s when.” She urged schools and parents alike to prepare. Like then, preparation continues to lack. With teachers scheduled to return in a matter of weeks, we still have no clear answers on how we will operate. Also, there has not been District wide training on Virtual learning platform we’d be required to use. Virtual learning this time around could be a much better experience than in Spring iff: 1) a plan is communicated sooner than later 2)trainings are provided for ALl teachers. 3) ensuring All students requiring a device receives one.

    20
  50. Stan Jester

    @T.Watkins, I suspect a high level plan will be recommended by they administration next Monday. I doubt any kind of meaningful plan will be communicated to the teachers before they show up for pre planning which is currently scheduled for 3 weeks from today. I don’t see how the school district can effectively train all teachers for virtual learning and I don’t expect all teachers to be able to figure it out on there own. All students will not have devices and/or access to the internet. I’m also concerned about the massive truancy rate at many schools during virtual learning (I don’t have those numbers … I’m just speculating).

    So where does that leave us?

    7
  51. Just Wondering

    I’m a little confused. All of you that are saying you want the option for your kids to go back full-time (as opposed to a hybrid), how exactly is that going to work? The guidelines clearly say that there needs to be social distancing, spacing kids out at least 6 ft. apart. How do you expect to fit regular numbers of students into our classrooms? Are you just hoping that enough parents will opt for full virtual so that your kids can go to school every day?

    I think you will be surprised at how many teachers are NOT going to go back into buildings. And what is really mind-blowing is that the county hasn’t even polled staff to see who is willing to go back (even with safeguards in place). I don’t think they want to know the numbers of us who are in high-risk categories or have family members who are, because then they will have to deal with the reality that there might not be a sufficient number of teachers/staff to even think about going back.

    30
  52. Stan Jester

    Perhaps the answer to this question can shed some light on how we move forward:

    Question: Is education an “Essential Service”?

    5
  53. Arts Teacher

    Education is absolutely an essential service, and wearing masks while distancing and disinfecting makes the building and work environment much more safe.

    A hybrid model could be two days a week or one, but we need face to face time and we need to distance. That can’t happen if everyone is in the building at the same time. Plain and simple.

    Teachers also need access to campuses now, to prepare on their own time leading up to preplanning. Most of us already have plans in place and should be starting the process to relay those plans to our admins.

    5
  54. Stan Jester

    Thank you for the input @Arts Teacher. How will giving teachers access to their classrooms now help them prepare for virtual learning? What kind of virtual learning preparation can only be done in the classroom?

  55. Essential Service?

    If we are an essential service, we shouldn’t have the threat of furloughs or other budgetary concerns hanging over us. If we’re essential, prove it. Otherwise good educators are going to leave for other metro districts that don’t cut pay.

    17
  56. Concerned Teacher and Parent

    Stan,

    Are you trying to make the argument that teachers are essential workers and should be willing to risk our lives to provide this essential service? I’m trying to get clarification.

    10
  57. Stan Jester

    @Concerned Teacher and Parent, I’m not making any argument. I’m trying to ascertain if we, as a community, view education as an essential service.

    3
  58. Socially__Distant_Working_Mom

    A letter from a doctor (not me), with many facts of which you all are aware, but please keep reading:

    With Covid-19 we have a novel virus that spreads rapidly and easily. The full spectrum of symptoms and health effects is only just beginning to be cataloged, much less understood.
    So far the symptoms may include:
    Fever
    Fatigue
    Coughing
    Pneumonia
    Chills/Trembling
    Acute respiratory distress
    Lung damage (potentially permanent)
    Loss of taste (a neurological symptom)
    Sore throat
    Headaches
    Difficulty breathing
    Mental confusion
    Diarrhea
    Nausea or vomiting
    Loss of appetite
    Strokes have also been reported in some people who have COVID-19 (even in the relatively young)
    Swollen eyes
    Blood clots
    Seizures
    Liver damage
    Kidney damage
    Rash
    COVID toes (weird, right?)
    People testing positive for COVID-19 have been documented to be sick even after 60 days. Many people are sick for weeks, get better, and then experience a rapid and sudden flare up and get sick all over again. A man in Seattle was hospitalized for 62 days, and while well enough to be released, still has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Not to mention a $1.1 million medical bill. Is the district going to cover the bill when transmission occurs in school?

    ***Then there is MIS-C. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. While rare, it has caused deaths.
    This disease has only been around for months. No one knows yet the long-term health effects, or how it may present itself years down the road for people who have been exposed. We literally *do not know* what we do not know.
    For those who suggest just throwing everyone back in classrooms with the “let’s see what happens” spirit,
    How dare you risk the lives of others so cavalierly? How dare you decide for others that they should risk exposure, when literally no one knows who will be the lucky “mild symptoms” case, and who may fall ill and die. Because while we know that some people are more susceptible to suffering a more serious case, we also know that 20 and 30 year olds have died, marathon runners and fitness zealots have died, healthy doctors and nurses have died, children and infants have DIED.
    The more things we can all do (like postponing throwing everyone into a Petri dish classroom) to mitigate our risk of exposure, the better off we all are. Not only would it help flatten the curve and allow health care providers to maintain levels of service that aren’t immediately and catastrophically overwhelmed; it also reduces unnecessary suffering and deaths, and buys time for the scientific community to study the virus in order to come to a more full understanding of the breadth of its impacts in both the short and long term.

    PS- I’m optimistic that @VeteranTeacher had an understandable autocorrect error (which happens to us all!) and knows the difference between “their” and “there.” Otherwise, I have more to add regarding the essential nature of this education.

    32
  59. Essential Service

    @Stan- staff have resources in their rooms and offices that are unavailable to them at home. Allowing us regular access to buildings will allow us access to resources that could improve online instruction. I can’t keep everything I need for work at home.

    7
  60. Stan Jester

    @EssentialService, What resources are in your office that you can’t keep at home for a few weeks until pre planning starts? Thank you for your input. –Stan

    2
  61. Kate Eastburn

    No hybrid please. Working parents need an option of either complete virtual- so they can plan accordingly or FT in class instruction. Hybrid is too disruptive and a major concern for teachers with young children. Virtual is a horrible option but I think the only one to consider for the start to be safe. We don’t know enough about the virus and to risk everyone’s health – especially with numbers increasing according to what most sources report. Always best to err on the side of caution despite it being a poor replacement for in person teaching. Imagine if we do go back in person and all hell breaks loose. That just puts even more strain on an already difficult platform to manage. Our family absolutely disliked online school but I think it really is the only possible pragmatic approach to a situation that seems to change daily and keeps causing so much disruption.

    11
  62. While i understand the plight of the special education families worried about FAPE …please take into account….these special ed students receive service from ITINERATE STAFF ….that means a therapist could be all the way north one day, all the way south the next. Think about the possibility for widespread SPREAD. Instead of thinking about the services that a child will miss during this PANDEMIC…think about the things that could be transmitted with movement and in person learning right now. I am one of those itinerate staff members who is in fact worried about the vulnerable population i serve AND my own family. I personally don’t want to be traveling Into several buildings on a daily basis and would hope that you wouldn’t want me around your child if I’ve been in several buildings prior to your child’s. I’m so sick of people calling “lawsuit.” FAPE is important – but isn’t the health and safety of all a little more important right now? I urge those making decisions to think outside of just those in the school building and think of all the staff that is charged with traveling the entire county on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. That Includes – NURSES, OT, PT, SLP, VISION, LEAD TEACHERS, COUNSELING, SOCIAL WORK, PSYCHOLOGY, OI TEACHERS, BEHAVIOR SPECIALISTS, …and more .

    15
  63. While I agree that virtual learning did not go very well this spring, I do not fault the teachers nor do I think online learning could not be effective. Reasons for the difficulties this spring? Lack of planning and preparation; many teachers thought we would be out for 2 or 3 weeks and treated the experience as a review of prior learning. Most teachers were not familiar with the online platforms. I had not even heard of Zoom or Microsoft Teams before schools closed this spring. We did not leave the school with the resources needed to provide instruction through the end of the year. Also don’t forget – after 3 weeks the district mandated a watered down schedule and lower expectations for student engagement. Attendance, grades, and participation were not longer critical for school.

    This fall schools need adequate opportunity for training and planning. Virtual learning will be a part of the school experience this year whether a hybrid format is chosen or schools are shut down due to Covid-19 exposure. With adequate training and planning, attention to best instructional practice and student (and teacher) accountability students can learn in a virtual environment.

    I support a delayed start for students, but I think mid-August is too soon considering schools have not had the time to prepare because of DeKalb’s delayed decision. At this point schools don’t know who is returning – some parents and staff members are waiting to hear the reopening model selected to make decisions regarding their level of participation in the fall. Once an announcement is made – schools will have to figure out transportation, new student schedules that respect social distancing, staffing needs, resources (ex – technology for elementary students) and student assignment. For example, in the elementary school a kindergartner cannot be at home alone on day A while their middle school sibling is in school.

    Also – the alternate day hybrid schedule assumes the entire school can be sanitized overnight in preparation for different students the next day – how will that happen? My school has 4 custodians – two work the evening shift (they stagger arrival during the school day). I suppose teachers will be asked to wipe down their own chairs and desks? Custodians still have their normal cleaning duties each evening in addition to wiping high touch areas.

    My point… let school personnel report on their assigned date for professional learning and planning – let students start later at the end of August. Our time line shouldn’t match other districts that made their decisions and began preparing earlier. Rushing into this when we did not maximize the summer preparation opportunity would be a disservice to the entire school community.

    21
  64. WE are Dekalb

    Education is absolutely an essential service. However, that does not mean that it has to look any one way or as it always has. We need to reimagine education in an effort to ensure safety for all. If we are essential, TREAT US AS THOUGH WE ARE. If we are essential, PROTECT US AS THOUGH WE ARE. What happens when a teacher gets sick and is out for 2+ weeks? Or a whole class of students? The cafeteria staff? A child on the bus exposing dozens of classrooms at once. Who suffers then? ALL PARTIES INVOLVED. Schools do not, can not, will not remain open without healthy teachers and staff. It is irresponsible to send us back in the middle of a worsening pandemic. It is counter to all logic. In person instruction will not work while there is substantial spread. Even if the county prioritizes following every CDC AND State guideline that has been put out, that will not be enough to keep the virus out of schools. Right now is NOT THE TIME. Start virtually and monitor the situation to find an opportunity for a SAFE transition. If not, will be left scrambling, as usual, and morale will be lower than ever. We have to adapt.

    38
  65. Hybrid is Horrific

    @Dekalb OT
    Many special needs students are either in inclusion classrooms or in a self-contained classroom. Otherwise, they receive pull-out services. Thus, ONLY you- the adult- a single individual (not half of a school if there were a hybrid model) would travel, similar to any regular working day of the year to see your students. This is comparatively a small risk that would provide exponential gains to the special needs population.

    Furthermore, you would be immensely aiding students who need support and have regressed over the course of the past 4-5 months, even more so than a typical neurotypical child (in addition to the fact that a child’s IEP falls under a federal statue that you may be required to comply with if a child needs said services).

    Teachers (myself included) know going into the profession that flu season happens, colds happen, kids are living petri dishes, etc. Sure- we could have never predicted a global pandemic…. but at the end of the day, yes– we are an “essential service,” and yes, we (or at least myself) got into this career to help children. This shouldn’t preclude anyone from not teaching! If it does- if they have to care for a sick family member or need to take their own leave, then a person can always take FMLA under the CARES Act.

    5
  66. DeKalb Teacher

    Masks please!! Especially in upper grades.

    If one day a week is virtual please allow teachers to work from home! There is no need
    to not trust teachers to work and force them into the building for another day.

    Like someone else said, If teachers kids could attend school 4x/week that would be an amazing way to support teachers!

    6
  67. There are so many things wrong with this. Why isn’t this on the district website home page? Why wasn’t this sent out to parents immediately? Why aren’t we offering options that protect teachers and students first? All scientific leaders and medical leaders said that this would get worse, why have you all not been planning for remote learning from the get go? Plan for the worst, after that everything is easy.

    19
  68. Stan Jester

    Hello @Kristi. Thank you for your input. Why isn’t what on the district website? Why wasn’t what sent out to parents? This article is just a stream of conscious thoughts by the DeKalb Schools Board chair, it isn’t any kind of official communication. Why do you say the school district hasn’t been planing for remote learning?

    4
  69. NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    Completely agree with @ Emily Mogan. The two track (either full time in person or full time virtual) is the only model that makes sense, addresses all concerns and pleases everyone.
    And, of course, education is the essential service, the most vital and the most essential as can be!

    2
  70. Arts Teacher

    @stan
    There are teaching materials to digitize, files on computers to access, and a working environment free of distractions. Lots and lots of things that can help. Teachers can check distancing guidelines and desks and reorganize, and many more things!

    3
  71. NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    @ Curious Stakeholder

    I am concerned the way you and some other commentators view teaching. The primary role of the teacher is to teach and not to hold someone else accountable and just grade the work. Virtual learning doesn’t provide that most important component of teaching: the instruction – clear and complete representation of new concepts ( “please go watch the video”, like it was done in spring, isn’t effective at all and you don’t perform you direct duties – teaching). With this said everybody have a choice: doctors, teachers, police etc. to stay in the profession or just quit and do something else. Getting paid the same salary and sending one email a day “saying hello” and “checking how you are all doing” (being sarcastic here but that’s how it was in our case literally) isn’t teaching and one can’t expect full compensation for the absence of performance.

    4
  72. Stan,

    Thank you for keeping us informed. I think communication is so important in this process. Even if it’s just an “We’re are considering some options. Please be patient. You won’t be left out in the dark.” Anything would be better than what we have gotten–which is nothing. Communication to parents and staff keeping us updated on the process would be helpful.

    This is not an easy decision for all the reasons listed above. There are going to be those who are unhappy no matter what. I think it would be good as soon as possible to let staff know when they are to report–staff have had to make plans for childcare, etc. and to let parents know when school will start–they too are having to make plans.

    Finally, I know you have your reasons for quitting the board, but so many of us have been depending on you for any information we get. Thank you for your service and keeping us posted. Personally, I don’t know what we’ll do for information from now on. The board is not transparent and isn’t very communicative with its constituents on an overall basis.

    10
  73. WE are Dekalb

    @ NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    It is unfortunate that this was you experience with Virtual Learning this spring. However, Instruction can be successfully delivered virtually through platforms like Zoom. Teachers can deliver direct instruction to students and teach a lesson, as they would in the classroom. Students can be shown visual aids, presentations, and ask clarifying questions when they are confused. Teachers can then direct guided practice where students can apply what they learned. Lastly, teachers can explain the assignment and model it with the students. This worked for my kindergarten students and I. After this instruction, students were released to go complete their assignments independently. I used SeeSaw as my platform of choice. It was EXTREMELY kid friendly and allowed my young students to show their learning in a multitude of ways (I.e.drawing, writing, typing, taking pictures, recording videos. It also allowed me to give my students feedback and encourage independence by leaving voice comments on student work sharing what they did well, and how they could improve their work. It can be done successfully. We just have to be willing to think outside of the box. Listen to the experts. Follow the research. LISTEN TO THE TEACHERS. MAKE IT WORK. The initial round of Virtual Learning did not work due to the lack of preparation, not because effective distance learning is impossible.

    12
  74. Stan Jester

    Teachers et al., WE are DeKalb said, “Instruction can be successfully delivered virtually through platforms like Zoom. Teachers can deliver direct instruction to students and teach a lesson, as they would in the classroom.”

    1. Is this an effective method of delivering classroom instruction?
    2. Is this a viable option? Can DeKalb Schools teachers execute something like this?
    3. Is it reasonable for the community to expect virtual learning like this to occur?

    This would be a paradigm shift in how virtual education happens at DeKalb Schools. It didn’t happen last Spring.

    9
  75. NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    @ We Dekalb

    Students can’t have screen time 6 hours a day 5 days a week. Zoom is very distractive and one has to have a high level of motivation to study through this method, students just don’t possess this level of maturity to utilize it effectively. I understand teachers want to stay home, do the clerk job – sending out the materials and expect the same pay rate. Especially if the surrounding counties are doing face to face teaching and Dekalb adopts other ineffective options, Dekalb teachers don’t deserve the same pay rate as everybody else teaching the class and fully performing their duties. Also some teachers in the comments mentioned that their kids should have 4 days of face to face learning in case of hybrid because they have a job to do. Please think broader and imagine that other parents have jobs to do and don’t have the option to “bring kids to work” like you request.

    1
  76. Not comfortable with hybrid of few days on/ few days off for all.

    I would be concerned with multiple exposures, moving parts, inconsistent models, limited devices, access, engagement, participation…

    Needs and risk prioritizing,

    K-5 Full time, Face to face,

    High school Full virtual, 1 to 1 device

    Middle school Full virtual, 1 to 1 device ( alternate every 2 weeks if enough parent requests)

    The available space and busing used to meet K-5 social distancing needs, with bubbles of student that remain consistent, all fully self contained classes.

    K-5 least likely, but isolated outbreaks affect the bubble, that bubble can be removed, tested and traceable; limiting the impact upon the whole grade level or school.

    Nutrition, bag breakfast, bag lunch for all.

    Specials, virtual for all.

    ESOL, Virtual for all.

    EC, is needs dependent, groupings could be developed to meet these needs.

    10
  77. Just Wondering

    ” one can’t expect full compensation for the absence of performance.”

    This is exactly what happened with thousands of employees in the county in the spring. How’s that for equity and equality? Teachers were left to “figure it out” and continue to assign lessons and contact parents, yet others were given time off without penalty of losing sick days, having to file for FMLA, etc. To expect teachers to do that is grossly unfair.

    EVERYONE should have a choice of whether or not to return to school buildings. As has been stated, many parents will choose the digital learning option and teachers will be needed for that purpose. But NO ONE should have to report back to school under threat of losing money, sick days, etc.

    I disagree that education is essential in the midst of a terrifying pandemic. Food, shelter, water, and medical treatment are far more essential right now. And don’t tell me I can always quit teaching. You know nothing of my situation, why I teach, or any of it.

    It really seems like some people think (still) that we should just be happy to have jobs (oh how weary I am of hearing this phrase) and go along like sheep with whatever is decided by the county. How about this? I won’t make the decision for you and your family and you don’t make it for me and mine?

    24
  78. Stan,

    Virtual does not and cannot work for all!! There are too many variables. It will work for some, and that’s great! For many it will not-no matter how great of a job teachers do in implementing VL.

    1
  79. NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    @ Stan
    Zoom is not effective for teaching at all. It’s crucial for the students of any age to socially interact and engage with another human beings face to face. Face to face learning is crucial for the healthy way of upbringing and educating a child.

  80. Teachers pay cannot be generalized. I’m sure if those working outside of the classroom/teaching profession would survey teachers, like myself, you’d find that we have actually been UNDERpaid. In fact, the County should be sending backpay, rather than entertaining the thought of furloughs. Many of us worked tirelessly to ensure our students/parents questions were addressed and learning continued. This sometimes meant working well pass our contracted times.

    22
  81. Need Answers

    @Stan
    Thank you for providing this platform for several years. My questions are below.
    Is there a plan in place for teachers who have a pre-existing health condition? Will they be given the option to teach virtually like parents were given? When will that information be made available?

    8
  82. Stan Jester

    @Need Answers. Good questions. The new Superintendent started 5 days ago. I don’t have any insight into what she or the administration is thinking or planning on recommending. I’m hoping the Monday board meeting will shed some light on these important questions. –Stan

    3
  83. WE are Dekalb

    @stanjester

    I have found it to be an effective ALTERNATIVE to classroom instruction. Of course face-to-face classroom instruction is ideal. In the event that distance learning is required, I think that this will be our best bet. I followed the county mandated schedule to teach my lessons. I held two 1 hour Zoom calls each week. I covered 2 subjects during each call. I created a PowerPoint and structured our routines as though we were still in the classroom. We reviewed, I introduced new topics, we had guided practice, went over the assignments, and modeled them. Students interacted with me and asked plenty of questions. They were EXCITED to see their classmates. They were excited to LEARN. It CAN be done.

    I believe that this is a VERY doable model for teachers to execute AND parents to expect. THIS is the Virtual Learning experience that ALL Dekalb students deserve. It maintains community and still allows some semblance of normalcy, during an abnormal time. Our students need consistency. I think a paradigm shift is exactly what is needed. We HAVE to adapt. We HAVE to be forward thinking. We HAVE to be innovative. We HAVE to take the lemons and make lemonade. Your teachers would LOVE to help figure out what this could look like (myself included). Involve us. We have good ideas, too. Now is not the time for more of the same.

    23
  84. @stan
    Thank you for your response.
    As for concerns with:
    1)Teachers Return: We are slated to return in ~3wks, and students a week afterwards. That 1 week does not give ample time to prepare for hybrid or virtual. Perhaps students should return later in the month.
    2) Virtual Training: Leadership should have been brainstorming. We watch recorded Professional Development/Learning sessions every year. Virtual platform training could have also been pushed out.
    3) Devices: We’re really only talking Elem. since Middle and High students have devices. Each elementary school can survey their parents and loan accordingly.
    4)Truancy: I’d like to see a comparison of truancy before and during Virtual Learning. To my knowledge, attendance was not monitored. Also, my opinion is that “hold harmless” contributed to this “truancy”.

    8
  85. Stan Jester

    @T.Watkins.
    1) A number of school districts are pushing back the start date for the students. I’m confident that will be discussed on Monday.
    2) I believe most teachers can figure out how to use Zoom and Microsoft Teams. I’d like to see some virtual platform training on the holistic virtual lesson delivery method that @We Are DeKalb is talking about.
    3) Like you said, a majority of the students that don’t have devices are elementary students. The school district is in the process of using a chunk of CARES money to purchase enough devices for the elementary students. There are surprisingly a number of middle and high schools with waiting lists for students to get devices. Most of that is a lack of coordination between the school and central office, nevertheless … quite a few middle and high school students don’t have devices. If we go virtual, their education comes to a complete halt.
    4) Truancy, yeah … “hold harmless” had to be a majority of the cause of truancy. Logging in to the system can be a proxy for attendance. I’m sure we have those numbers. I wonder what kind of “hold harmless” practice we’ll have if we go virtual again and how it will affect participation.

    3
  86. WE are Dekalb

    @ NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    I did not suggest that students sit in front of the computer for 6 hours, daily. I shared that it is possible to provide students with virtual face-to-face instruction and teach as though we are in the classroom. During VL I held two Zoom meeting a week. I covered 2 subjects during each 1 hour meeting.

    I, by no means, want to stay home and be a ‘clerk’. Once again, I apologize that this was your experience with your child’s teacher during Virtual Learning. As teachers we want to TEACH. That should not mean sacrificing the safety of ourselves, our students, families, and loved ones. That does not mean that we need to be sacrificial lambs. Effective Virtual Learning is possible with the correct measures, guidelines, requirements, and non-negotiable in place. Dekalb has an obligation to their students and staff to keep all involved safe and provide students with quality instruction. If other counties are prematurely pushing their students and staff back into buildings before it is safe to do so, that is THEIR business. I can only hold DEKALB accountable for their decisions and hope that we are not afraid to be innovators. There is no reason to follow the pack if it is ultimately unsafe to do so.

    24
  87. NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    @ We are Dekalb
    “I held two 1 hour Zoom calls each week. I covered 2 subjects during each call. ” Really 2 hours of Zoom meetings instead of 5 days of full instruction is innovative in your opinion? To me it’s a huge regression and backward thinking.

    4
  88. NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    @ We are Dekalb
    You express your opinion and I express mine. The community is divided on this matter, so the best solution will be to apply the two track (either full time in person or full time virtual) to satisfy all, what other counties are doing already.
    There probably are people who liked the virtual learning, I personally know none, but that’s my experience and you have yours and it’s fair to provide the educational quality service for everybody and not to push a one way path for all.

    2
  89. WE are dekalb

    NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    I was speaking on the way that I utilized the county mandates from the spring to teach my students. If you were familiar with the VL schedule that was implemented Math and Science assignments were to be completed Mondays. Science and Social studies assignments were to be complete Wednesdays. Prior to my students attempting assignments, I taught lessons to introduce the concept , reinforce, and provide practice. This is what I am arguing for.

    Obviously the time requirements would need to be tweaked, based on how the county decides to schedule and pace the curriculum. As a teacher, I work within the bounds of what the county mandates while trying to make it work BEST work for MY students. The point that I am making is that effective direct instruction can take place virtually. I am not positing more of the same. We know that VL learning in the spring was not as effective as I could’ve been. I am encouraging a change in approach and sharing how I made Virtual Learning work for my students and their families.

    8
  90. NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    @ We are Dekalb

    I’m not questioning your teaching skills in no way. You are probably a great teacher if you were doing all those steps during spring virtual learning, I know for sure not every teacher did that (have multiple students in different grades). My point is that virtual learning is not working for everybody and for those, there should be given an option of face to face instruction.

    1
  91. Equity Warrior?

    The new superintendent describes herself as an “equity warrior.” How can you achieve equity from home? Are you kidding?

    With this “hybrid” plan, which is really just a fully virtual program with a couple days of instruction on how to do the virtual assignments, we will have a sea of illiterate or barely literate 4th graders in Dekalb. We will have children in 5th grade who can’t do basic multiplication and division. Essential service? Education is THE essential service. You can’t function in this economy without a solid education. Period. You can’t make up a lost year of learning. Impossible.

    If the superintendent is serious about “equity,” and actually cares about running a school system as opposed to a full employment program for teachers and central office staff, she will follow our three neighboring Counties and open school buildings for in person education. Public schools should be open to the public.

    Require masks, cohort distance students to help with contact tracing to avoid full school shutdowns and cut specials to shorten the school day if needed. Perhaps hold some classes outdoors or even, heaven forbid, extend recess time. But put kids in buildings 5 days a week.

    Oh wait, I forgot something. Parents work, folks. Has anyone seen the reports of unreported child abuse? Has anyone seen the reports of minor children being left alone to fend for themselves while their parents have to report to work? Does Dekalb provide nannies to poor families? If so, send me the number to book one. This isn’t exactly a rich County. I don’t get it. Who are these parents who want to lock children out of school?

    It’s in person or virtual for those that are health compromised. One or the other.

    6
  92. Concern employee

    I am a Dekalb County front office staff member. Opening back up without any plexi glass or facw shields is a concern for me. We can’t even get parents to pick up kids when they are sick/fever, how do we express the importance of not masking fevers with medicine or leaving a student in the front office to wait for parents to maybe pick them up?

    37
  93. WE are Dekalb

    Every teacher was not doing these things because they were not mandated. The county had a different VL approach. The good thing about looking back at this period is that we can determine what worked, what didn’t, and how we can IMPROVE virtual learning to ensure that ALL students receive this experience and have exposure to direct instruction. I struggled for weeks prior to figuring out how I could make it work. By no means am I saying that Virtual learning is the IDEAL or a replacement for in-person instruction. I am saying that it can be an effective ALTERNATIVE if implemented with the correct approach. .

    I respect your opinion and point of view, I just believe that it is unsafe for us to begin the school year with in person instruction, given the current level of spread within the community. I would LOVE to go back to my classroom and teach, but not until it is SAFE to do so. We should be strategic and observe the counties that decided to open and learn from their experiences. I am positing an approach that keeps all parties involved SAFE, while ensuring effective and MEANINGFUL instruction. I am arguing for VL ONLY until the science and data show that it is safe to transition students back into the classroom.

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  94. DeKalb Graduate DeKalb Educator

    Stan and Others,
    I have read through this entire thread and, for the most part, I can understand and even empathize with most of the perspectives. I do not envy anyone in your position who is trying to make this all-important decision. There is NO RIGHT ANSWER…No choice will make everyone happy and no choice can guarantee both health and well-being for all involved.
    What I cannot understand or tolerate is the sweeping disrespect of folks like @NO to virtual NO to hybrid. This statement, especially, has gotten under my skin, “I understand teachers want to stay home, do the clerk job – sending out the materials and expect the same pay rate.” I do not know a single educator with this attitude! Do some of us put in more effort than others? Of course! Are some of us more prepared for using technology? Absolutely! But, I do not know a single educator who sat back and relaxed during our spring digital learning experience. I do not know a single educator who did not learn or attempt to learn something knew from March to May. I do not know a single educator who did not worry about his/her students on a daily basis and wonder whether or not those students were safe and well taken care of. I do not know a single educator who has not spent at least some of his/her summer “break” researching new ideas and methods in order to be prepared for whatever this fall brings.
    In my opinion, educators are essential, not just for the academic standards they teach on a daily basis but also for the emotional and social support they provide to their students. I realize there are bad apples in the field of education who may not provide these valuable supports but, for the most part, educators are the cheerleaders of students who may or may not have this support at home. Those students who have the social, emotional, and academic support at home are not the ones I am most concerned about. I firmly believe they will continue to learn through the experiences and models their parents and families provide. But, we must ask what happens to those students who do not have those role models, resources, and experiences in their lives. These are the children who need to return to school in the fall and I, for one, am one of the educators who is willing to return with them. Luckily, I do not have underlying health issues nor do I have family members who live with me who do.

    I believe the District must first find out how many teachers are willing to return to the classroom and how many are willing to take on the challenge of creating new roads in the field of digital learning. In my opinion, a hybrid or alternating schedule will not work. Like other districts, I believe DeKalb should offer parents a choice between a face to face or virtual setting for, at least, the first semester. Once a parent makes his/her choice, he/she must stick with it. From there, perhaps a face to face teacher could be paired with a virtual teacher to co-teach or team-teach their students. Recordings of face to face lessons could be shared online while Zoom and TEAMS could be used to provide real-time connections to the virtual teacher. Of course, there are many other details which must be worked out and contingency plans will need to be in place since none of us can predict the future. All of these plans will take time and constructive input from all parties involved.

    Stan, thank you for continuing to listen to different perspectives to represent our voices!

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  95. Stan, your comment that most want in-person doesn’t seem correct, given the comments here. Somebody pointed out that views of many who previously voted for in-person have likely changed given we are currently seeing an explosion of cases locally. My own opinion is that hybrid is the worst of both worlds. Better to offer parents *and teachers* the options of full-time in-person or full-time virtual. And for my own family, which includes someone with underlying conditions, in-person or hybrid attendance is simply not possible. Unless there is a full virtual option for us, my child will have to leave the school system entirely. We’ll be sad to take our $ and support away from child’s school, but there it is. Education is essential, but there’s more than one way to be educated. There’s no way to be educated if you’re dead, and nothing is more essential than preserving life.

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  96. NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    @ We are Dekalb
    Regarding safety: Gwinnett 8,619, Fulton 7, 527, Dekalb 6,172…. So why should Dekalb go virtual?
    If you don’t feel safe and want the virtual learning I’m all advocating for it. Please do so, but don’t impose your views on everybody else exploiting the “safety card.

  97. Stan Jester

    Hello @Rachel. My perception is that most parents want in person education. 100% virtual is the best option for many students for many reasons. I recommend that they avail themselves of the 100% online courses available through DeKalb Schools or one of the many other 100% online options out there.

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  98. NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    @ DeKalb Graduate DeKalb Educator
    I do find it unfair for the teachers to have the same pay grade doing personal teaching in the classroom and virtual option. There is nothing offensive in this point of view. Unfortunately I know tons of educators with unprofessional attitude. I want to be politically correct and say how everything pink is but it’s not, there are different teachers. I do respect the teaching profession and consider it the most important and vital to the society.

  99. DSW2Contributor

    ^^^No to NO posted: “Regarding safety: Gwinnett 8,619, Fulton 7, 527, Dekalb 6,172…. ”
    Your numbers are a few days out of date….as of 2:50 PM today, July 5, the number of confirmed Covid cases in Gwinnett is 9,787, Fulton is 8,883 and Dekalb is 7,050. You can confirm this on the Dept of Health’s website https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

    The virus is in exponential growth, while the GA-DOE’s reopening plan said the virus had to be in decline before schools should reopen.

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  100. NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    @DSW2Contributor
    Got the info from http://www.coronovirus.1pount3acres.com.
    The numders are different but Dekalb is in the third place and that was my point. And you confirmed it from a different source.

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