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. WE are Dekalb

    @ NO to virtual NO to hybrid

    I am honestly confused. I do not understand the point that you are trying to make. Dekalb has the 3rd highest number of cases in the the state of Georgia. The numbers and data speak for themselves. The amount of spread in the community is substantial and increasing. It is NOT safe. As I have previously stated, “ 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.”

    I am not ‘imposing my views’ on anyone. I am stating my opinion, as are you. We disagree, but that is completely okay. I am not offended by that fact.

    10
  2. DSW2Contributor

    ^ We, “No to No..” is arguing that we should open since Gwinnett and Fulton are opening even though they have more confirmed Covid cases than Dekalb. (I disagree with that argument.)

    ^^ No to No, I’m told that the “Cases Per 100K” statistic is more important than total number of cases in a county. Dekalb has been leading in Cases per 100K, but then Gwinett pulled ahead. Currently the Cases per 100K is 1,008 in Gwinnett, 889 in Dekalb and 808 in Fulton.

    1
  3. DSW2Contributor

    From a July 2 Associated Press article:
    ————————————————————–
    ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia added close to 3,500 confirmed coronavirus cases to its total count on Thursday, the largest single-day increase the state has experienced, as infection rates rise across the country.

    The state has seen a sharp increase in confirmed cases as well as people hospitalized in recent weeks, after a short period of decline that followed a since-lifted stay-at-home order from Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

    “We are in exponential growth with rapidly rising infections,” Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University, tweeted Thursday. “I am very concerned of our trajectory as we head into the 4th of July weekend,” del Rio said as he urged people to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

    Georgia isn’t alone in seeing rising numbers. One-day confirmed coronavirus cases for the country rose to an all-time high of 50,000 on Thursday and cases are rising in 40 out of 50 states.
    ————————————————————–
    https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/texas/articles/2020-07-02/georgia-sees-another-big-increase-in-coronavirus-infections

    1
  4. PleaseFollowScience

    Please check the link below (updated daily): Availability of hospital beds. As of today, there’s no space for adults. There’s not enough space for even one child per school to be cared for at CHOA for any reason (seizures, accidents, allergies requiring epi-pen, etc.)
    As an educational institution, it is important that you make educated, responsible decisions.
    My kids and I really want things to be back to normal!!! We all *want* them in school!
    BUT, just because we are very tired of this pandemic does not mean it is gone! Just because we *want* things back to normal does not mean that we can go about our lives as if things are normal.
    Also, as @DSW2Contributor noted above, GADOE re-opening plan stated a decline in cases was needed. Today GA is the #5 state in the nation with the most new cases.

    Hospital status: https://gaems.net/cgi-bin/diversion.pl?fbclid=IwAR3cVrI6euCXU8s5Wl74Qi3f_Fqnis8aYdStVN-BGMHXG3spESsYfavuSwg

    8
  5. I selected a hybrid model for return, but as the number rise, I’d rather do Rockdale’s plan. Asking people to select face to face vs. virtual will create inequities. And the last thing Dekalb needs are those types of optics. Where I live, more parents are likely to be able to make arrangements for keeping their kids at home. So the there would a low enough number of students in the building that you can still social distance. But where I work, more of the parents are essential workers and would likely send their kids to school. So now, poorer communities have building filled with students and no way to social distance. And middle and upper class communities would have schools that can practice social distancing. Which made hybrid the best choice in my opinion. But I now think we need start virtual, with the K-3 kids coming in to the building in small groups to learn how to use their device the first weeks of school.

    10
  6. Also, Yes, teaching is an essential service. But it’s also a service that is able to be delivered online.

    14
  7. Sarcasm Int...

    @ There, their. I see your comment received a lot of thumbs-up, so I assume it merits a response.
    The post by @ Veteran Teacher | July 5, 2020 at 11:15 PM
    “Their should not be a difference. All assignments are due and graded regardless if it is in-person or virtual.”

    Veteran Teacher also suggests that parents and students checked-out in March, unfortunately, we experienced the opposite. We had good experiences with a few teachers, but most teachers put in the absolute minimum amount of effort following the transition to virtual.

    1
  8. here’s from a concerned grandma, parent, bus driver I hope it’s decided that students learn on line. This virus is deadly and dangerous!! I helped my grandchild thru the first round and I must say her teacher was excellent, We facetime when I had problems. when I had a question she responded in a timely manner. My point is it’s not safe for any of us to return in person. All Surveys I hear what parents want What about the employees. I’ve been quarantine for the last couple of months except for getting essential items. I’m waiting for the outcome of the board decision. Let’s put everyone first by staying hhome!!

    13
  9. Stan, you wrote, “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.” But 100% online through DeKalb isn’t the automatic option you seem to think it is. For a student to take an online course, the school must agree. The school’s guidance counselor must then make a request to the county office, and the county must agree. The guidance counselors are on summer vacation. And do you think schools will agree to losing so many students when it means they’ll lose $? As for “the many other 100% online options out there”, what are they? I asked the school, and they don’t know. Do you know of real options and can you say what they are? Or are you just assuming things exist?

    3
  10. Just wondering

    Stan and all,

    After reading these threads, I find there is a lot of talk about the numbers going up, students and teachers wearing masks, etc. How many of us have been to the grocery store, etc., and have seen many, many people not wearing masks. We have read about gatherings in which neither social distancing nor masks were required–friends going to the beach together after graduation, etc. To be honest, unless people start doing the “right thing,” as Gov. Kemp states or unless there is a mask mandate in place, the numbers are going to continue to rise. So, do we have virtual school all year?

    4
  11. Yes, please tell us more about existing virtual options. And while you’re at it, we’re in year 5 (for one kid 2, for the other) of a 9-year magnet program. If we choose virtual school, do we lose our placement there?

    1
  12. WeWillGetThroughThis

    There are a lot of great comments on here with many perspectives I had not considered, and IMO, most have merit.

    There seems to be a lack of support for hybrid (6-12) though, and that concerns me. Kids benefit from in-person teaching, but distancing means they all can’t be in class at once. Hybrid allows everyone to have the beneficial in-person time a couple days a week, while allowing necessary social distancing. If a parent has to choose 100% in school or 100% virtual, they have to choose to either ignore CDC distancing guidelines or ignore the huge benefits of in-person access to teachers. Given the amount of work already having been done from home by parents, I pretty certain most businesses would not only accommodate alternating days for parents if younger kids that need supervision on their virtual days, but I’d think businesses would even welcome it because it creates better distancing at work if less people are in the office.

    I understand that doesn’t work well for parents who cannot work from home at all. On the flip side, parents who can work at home 100% to support their kids receiving 100% virtual learning would probably love it if a couple days/week they could work without interruptions from their kids while their kids are physically in school.

    But then I also see the concerns for teachers with young kids.

    There really seems like no good solution exists, so we will have to be satisfied with the least bad solution….whatever that ends up being.

    My big concern a out virtual stems from our experience this spring being similar to the horrible experiences already voiced here – no real TEACHING virtually, just a list of assignments and some videos to watch. It was pathetic…or at least so for my elementary school child. My middle school child’s teachers did much better (except one), but still not nearly as effective as they would have been in school. Sadly the one middle school teacher who tought NOTHING new was math, which surprised me because in class he was a great teacher that my kid learned well from.

    I like the idea of using MS Teams and taking attendance (allowing for internet issues) and actually TEACHING – live instruction – as much as they would in a classroom. Kids need to be muted and “raise their hands” (via Teams) just as if in class. (I’m assuming Teams can do that. WebEx can.) It’s still not the same as in-person, but it sure beats the mess that happened in the spring.

    So why hasn’t DeKalb been standardizing on platforms and training teachers on effective virtual teaching for the past couple months? The county had to know the virus wasn’t going to be gone, meaning that at least some virtual teaching was going to be necessary. It seems to me like time was squandered.

    Hopefully the new superintendent will hit the ground running and pull things together quickly, but training staff a new way to teach (not assign, but TEACH) is something I’d expect to take more than the time left before school starts.

    One final comment. IMO, education is essential. It’s certainly a heck of a lot more essential than liquor stores which were deemed essential! As such, I feel the state should make PPE available to every teacher – N95 masks and face shields – as well as sufficient disinfectant cleaner. And yes, students without a medical condition prohibiting it should be required to wear masks while on busses and in school, except while eating lunch.

    4
  13. Parent 1st

    Please take into consideration testers that are parents . How are we to manage coming into work and out kids are on a different schedule. Many parents have kids in high school, elem, and middle. These models only seem to work for parents that have 1 student and not multiple students. I am also concerned about if a teacher or a student contacts COVID. What is that plan? Will the entire class stay home for 14 days? The entire grade level? The entire school? Being a Parent of multiple aged children as well as a teacher seems very risky to catch COVID as well as spread it to others. **** many people have COVID and no symptoms like our Mayor.

    4
  14. B, the decision might be up to your magnet school’s principal … who might not want to decide before seeing how many people will leave, but you could ask. If it’s GLOBE, you’d have to keep up with the language or maybe rejoin in 6th grade when new kids can come. Anyone, have you tried wearing an effective mask for 6.5 hours straight? It should be 2 layers of substantial cotton t-shirt or cotton+silk with a layer of coffee filter or paper towel. I’ve worn them briefly but is it bearable to keep it on for long?

    3
  15. dekalb parent

    I hope our leadership is taking serious consideration into the recommendations provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics. https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/

    1
  16. Actually Gwinnett is now calling a special board meeting this week for reconsideration of their previously-stated opening plans ….

    5
  17. Make all virtual an option

    I think offering the opportunity to opt to go completely virtual first semester with a student’s homeschool (like other districts are doing) is an important choice to offer to parents. Even if only 10-20% of parents make that choice it will still make it easier to create socially distanced classrooms and busses. I understand that there are online options, but it seems like these options would force parents to withdraw their child from their homeschool and enroll in the online option. Many parents are only looking to keep their child(ren) home for one semester, this feels like an undue burden to put on them to withdraw their student. Not to mention if enough parents do that, it could skew the school enrollment numbers. Another point being school choice parents, it’s not fair to force a child to lose their spot at their school choice school, just because they opt to go online for one semester. (Let’s be honest most school choice schools won’t be able to offer their regularly scheduled programming with Covid restrictions in place, so it’s not like these kids missing one semester will be a big deal for the overall program.) Again, I feel like parents that are willing and have the capability to keep their kids home for first semester and do all VL are doing the rest of us a favor who cannot feasibly do it, we should make it easier for them not harder. Finally, when the survey came out, the options were: all online, everyone back in class, or hybrid. Having some people go completely virtual while others are in school everyday was not a clearly laid out option. If it had been, more people may have picked it.

    3
  18. DeKalb Curious

    Will a link be posted so that we can watch the board meeting on July 13th?

    2
  19. Concerned Teacher and Parent

    Stan,
    If teachers want to get out of their contracts to avoid catching and spreading this virus to vulnerable family members, will we be able to do so without losing our certifications? Given the fact that DeKalb is waiting so late to inform us of any decisions, I think it’s only fair to give us some options.

    11
  20. Peggy Smith

    I am in favor of 100% traditional school. I don’t see how the economy will recover if parents can’t go back to work. Many parents already have to be back at work physically. Virtual learning in the spring was a joke. I work from home and had to change my hours to work in the evenings so my two elementary age kids could “share” my laptop. Which was painful enough then add in the need for a parent to print, access, scream, help, submit, etc. Honestly, I don’t think my kids learned a damn thing. How is that parent supposed to work and also “manage” virtual learning? I’m fortunate because I can manipulate my schedule but the majority of parents cannot. I don’t see how this can be sustained long term. Is DCSD going to provide Wifi and devices for every child? How would hybrid work if you have multiple kids and working parents? What a nightmare to have to find childcare on alternating days not to mention transportation, etc. Personally it seems the best thing to do is like Cobb and Fulton, etc. are doing. Offer everyone the option of either in person or virtual and go semester by semester as we see things continue to evolve with Covid. Everyone knows the new superintendent just started but it’s a disservice to parents and teachers to make them wait until July 13 to know what they need to do.

    7
  21. Dekalb Teacher

    Of all the metro counties, I like Rockdale’s the best. It gives the chance to truly have time to prepare for 2020-21 and to recover from the 2019-20 school year. I don’t know about other counties, but in Dekalb County many of us were still working and going back-and-forth to the schools to help with packing student items, returning things to parents, closing out classrooms, etc., well into June and, for some of us, simultaneously teaching the virtual summer school courses until the beginning of July. Rockdale’s plan also allows for teachers and parents to somewhat “ease” into the school year with a virtual jumpstart of K-3 in person and 4-12 at home virtually for the first 2 weeks. I would just want to be sure there is some sort of way to give chrome books to the elementary students. I don’t know if that would call for parents having to sign some sort of agreement, but it would help tremendously. So many companies were helpful with offering access to Wi-Fi for those that needed it as well, so hopefully that will be something that could be available for students as well at a discount or at no cost; at least for a period of time.

    4
  22. Stan Jester

    @ConcernedTeacherAndParent, I suspect the district will let teachers out of their contracts if the teacher feels their life is too much at risk. Please reach out to me if that is the case but the school district does not let you out.

    @Make all virtual an option, 100% online was an option before COVID. You can do that through DeKalb Schools or any number of other places.

    @rachel, I’m confident DeKalb Schools will let anybody go 100% these days. All the schools around me are overcrowded, so I don’t think losing a student here and there has been a problem. I’m also happy to fight for any student that wants to 100% online education for any reason anytime.

    7
  23. I’m of the opinion that kids need school and it should be opened. The long term consequences of this situation to kids is going to be profound, especially to the less advantaged. Ideally those teachers needing to stay home could take on the load of the voluntary virtual learning students. School IS essential. As a nurse, I kept working and took on the risk- hospitals didn’t close and schools shouldn’t either!

    This is an absolute nightmare for single parents, working parents, etc… Many seem to not understand why parents would risk sending their kids to school. Well here it is- The risk of their kids getting a virus seems a much preferable option to not being able to feed and house them due to losing their jobs.

    Hybrid/distance learning will essentially be cancelling school for those that don’t have a parent at home or can’t afford a nanny. The distance between the have and have nots will increase greatly. For example, when I go to work my 7th grader will have to watch my elementary school aged kids. None of them will have a ‘teacher’ figure at home. It probably won’t matter anyways as their teachers’ version of distance learning in the spring was a joke. It was a packet of worksheets on Mondays. Absolutely no instruction involved. When I requested help with content to teach the teacher told me to search YouTube. Dekalb needs to hold teachers to higher standards. Did you know Forsyth’s optional digital platform will include instruction from 8-4? I saw a teacher post about 2 zoom meetings a week- what a joke. .

    1
  24. Rachel makes a good point. Why aren’t the guidance counselors paid to work during the summer? Students need help with duel enrollment, college applications, and schedules during the summer and don’t have anyone to assist. When I was a high schooler my guidance counselors worked more days than the teachers to give that support.

    4
  25. @Veteran Teacher This is in response to your comment ‘ 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.’

    So, you want hybrid/virtual days for all students except for teachers’ kids? They shouldn’t have to abide by a hybrid schedule?? Basically you are saying childcare matters for teacher’s kids but not other kids of parents who have to go to work? So other kids need to be home alone but teachers’ kids won’t? Since when were those kids more important? This is precisely one reason there needs to be a full in classroom option for those families that need it!

    2
  26. Dekalb concerned parent

    Pretty much everyone on the east side in my neck of the woods voted for online learning. So I’m confused how some of the voices who voiced there concerns was muffled by those on the northside. And I’ve talked to many who have concerns about there kids returning. Because if in house is what your going for expect the repercussions. Kids in Decatur area parents have spoken.

    4
  27. @Veteran Teacher This is I’m response to your comment ‘ 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.’

    So, you want hybrid/virtual days for all students except for teachers’ kids? They shouldn’t have to abide by a hybrid schedule?? Basically you are saying childcare matters for teacher’s kids but not other kids of parents who have to go to work? So other kids need to be home alone but teachers’ kids won’t? Since when were those kids more important? This is precisely one reason there needs to be a full in classroom option for those families that need it! I say this as someone who has had to scrounge for childcare throughout this whole pandemic.

    @Nikole – Teaching isn’t a service that can be delivered online to young children if there is no adult home. Your missing a big piece of the picture here. I believe it could be more easily implemented for older kids.

    1
  28. @dekalbconcerned parent

    I’m on the northside and (for what it’s worth)- no one I’ve talked to wants to go back right now. I guess only they have the survey data, but my perspective is people do not want to go back, at least at first. My neighbors are already discussing forming a homeschool group.

    8
  29. DeKalb seems to group pre-K through 5th grade with middle and high school. A 5 year old is not the same as 10 or 14 or 18 year olds. I hope that the new superintendent will start treating elementary students differently from high school students.

    5
  30. @ B

    I am a parent on the Northside and I would start back in a full non-social distanced, non-masked school tomorrow. So now you’ve talked to one.

    1
  31. DSW2Contributor

    ^^^^^^^^Stan – ” I suspect the district will let teachers out of their contracts if the teacher feels their life is too much at risk.”

    Stan, the question about letting teachers out of their contracts needs to be asked during a board meeting and the entire board needs to confirm the answer through a public vote.

    PATS currently shows we have 246 teacher vacancies right now. It is not possible to do in-person classes with social distancing when we are short that many teachers!

    10
  32. @WE are Dekalb >> My daughter cares for babies in a daycare facility at a church – many the baby of a teacher. Talk about a ‘sacrificial lamb’! Low pay. No benefits. And caring for the most precious. She is terrified to go to work, but she is ‘essential’ and has to. Plus, she cannot survive without the paycheck, meager as it is. My point is, there are many, many people out there working every day – deemed essential – like grocery store clerks, UPS drivers and clerks, people at drive through restaurants, etc, etc. They have to put themselves at risk every day so that the rest of us can eat, and have our children cared for while we do our own work. These are the forgotten – we all would do well to expand our compassion a bit. Think about the bus drivers, media clerks, security, cafeteria workers, custodians, etc who will also have to report to work and be at risk – it’s not just about teachers. DCSD is enormous – over 15,000 employees I believe – it takes an enormous network of support. We need to look at the whole enchilada. I personally see no harm in just waiting the whole thing out another month – and extending the school year in May-June, 2021.

    5
  33. ps – Waiting for the new superintendent to make the decision is a pass the buck, lame excuse for not handling this earlier. Do you really think this new super is going to jump in and set up a whole plan in a week or two? Where oh where is Ms. Tyson’s ‘plan’??? She sure has been quiet on the issue. In fact, so has the entire board, except for Marshall’s ‘stream of consciousness’. We are talking about people’s lives, children and jobs here. Give it your complete, undivided attention. Don’t ask parents and the community to do your job for you or discuss the problem ad nauseam. School is scheduled to start in a little over 3 weeks! Pitiful.

    12
  34. 30 yr Teacher

    The school systems should be studying the established virtual learning programs that has been operating for home school families for years such as K12 and Georgia Connections Academy. Those programs have online teachers leading lessons, and grading systems already in place. The students go in to testing centers to take standardized testing at the end of the year. In these learning models, the student is held accountable for getting their assignments completed and the parent is a “learning coach”. Their responsibility is to monitor the student’s participation in getting work turned in on time. The learning coach does no teaching. (Monitoring is still time consuming though.) The student must be monitored to make sure that they are on task. Asking teachers to invent these teaching models is too much to expect. The easiest way to implement a similar program is to have county wide online instructors. We should utilize these home school programs and have our teachers and parents become the “learning coaches”. There is NO WAY a teacher can write lesson plans and design virtual lessons spur of the moment with no county wide consistency and be effective for all students. The students that are highest risk and parents that cannot be home coaches, should be allowed to do the in-person learning so that the teachers can suppliment the “homeschooled” curriculum. I have no idea how the schools can supervise all of the kids at one time and socially distance properly. (Perhaps an educational rebate incentive to families that homeschool their kids to cover childcare expenses). I have no idea where they plan to come up with funding though. It seems like an impossible situation.

    On another point though, the death rate of Covid has dropped to barely any. Maybe, all of this will not be necessary. (Praying)

    4
  35. Stan Jester

    @DSW2Contributor, I need to ask the superintendent and head of HR what their current policy is for any employee that doesn’t feel comfortable going back to work … from the school house to the central office. –Stan

    4
  36. pps >> All you can find at the website is Tyson’s promise to deliver a plan to the board on JUNE 8 … https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/covid-19/covid-19/update-29/

    2
  37. Frustrated

    Exactly how I feel!

    1
  38. Dekalb parent

    @Why Not? – Counselors are also needed for enrolling new students and registering students for summer classes. It’s frustrating to not be able to have staff working when there are things students need to do.

    3
  39. Just Saying

    Every employee should be tested prior to returning to the buildings. It would be great if masks were made mandatory for everyone, including kids. I think returning staff would feel a little more at ease with that. Although I know the desire and need is great for traditional, in person learning, I think we all have to make sacrifices until this pandemic is controlled which might mean an option such as an A/B schedule to decrease the number of students in the buildings and classrooms at one time. Maybe kids could even eat in the cafeteria instead of the classrooms, as suggested, if there are fewer kids in the buildings. I think planning an A week and a B week as compared to A days, B days rotating may probe a bit easier for parents to navigate. Kids can receive remediation from virtual staff on their alternate week. Maybe this can be viewed as short term(Fall semester) and then re-evaluated prior to 2nd semester. If the country had not been so quick to re-open against the recommendations from health experts then maybe this pandemic would be on a downward trajectory and “How to reopen schools safely” would not be a major concern. Just saying…

    6
  40. There is a meeting called tomorrow 7/7 at 5pm for Gwinnett BOE because they realize that it is not safe to open schools under the current situation. Posted by Gwinnett member Everton Blair, Jr.
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EcRrSA5VAAA2wjQ?format=jpg&name=large

    2
  41. And I mean that the letter comes from the Twitter account of Mr. Blair, not that this is his post of course.

  42. Dekalb concerned parent

    Another point how was every survey counted when like you said some parents kids don’t have access to devices therefore internet so your decision would be based off the few not the many who find in house not suitable for them or there kids. So your decision will not be viable since all were not heard. When your making your decision for our kids take that in consideration.

  43. Just saying

    Additionally, if students are attending school Mondays through Thursdays by the week, then teachers can use Fridays as work from home days to conference with parents or provide one-on-one assistance to students who received the in person class instruction that week. While the teachers are conferencing on Fridays from their home, the custodians could use this time to THOROUGHLY disinfect the buildings prior to the next group of kids entering for the next week(B week).

    2
  44. Novice Teacher

    I fully believe that a face to face option is going to happen and parents will have to decide if that’s the best fit for their family. Having said that, I would like for the board to consider the logistics of returning and come up with a plan that the entire district will follow.
    What will open house look like? This is a day that schools all over the district are crowded because parents and students want to meet their teacher.
    What will the first week of school look like? In elementary school, especially for primary grades, parents always walk their children to class for at least the first week of school. Hallways become crowded as well as classrooms as parents love to watch their children unpack and find their cubby and desk. Will this still be allowed?
    What will curriculum night look like? This is another time when parents pack the building.
    Parent-teacher conferences? Again, parents are packing the building to meet with their child’s teacher.
    When students get sick, will they be sent to the nurse’s office as usual? This potentially puts other students at risk who are in the nurse’s office for non-Covid like symptoms.
    What about parent volunteers, book fairs, fall festivals, and other wonderful activities that schools have to welcome families in the building? All of these activities bring in parents, older siblings, grandparents, and other stakeholders wanting to make their neighborhood school a wonderful place for children.
    Faculty meeting? This is when the entire staff is together in one room.

    I know these things might not mean much on a large scale, but all of these things add to the risk that teachers and staff will already be under returning to school. I believe to help with some of the anxiety that teachers and staff will inevitably feel, the district should come up with a universal plan that minimizes the risks as much as possible. We don’t need schools doing their own thing during this time because you open yourself up to some schools taking precautions while others following no guidelines at all. I know the board won’t have all the answers right away, but please be mindful of these things and how they can increase exposure for staff and students.

    8
  45. CONCERN FOR ALL FAMILIES

    I find it selfish to expose kids,teachers,staff AND their families a virus that could be fatal to some. We are already on the increase and face to face will only add to the growing numbers. Their will be no win win option here, parents, teachers will have to ALL make sacrifices for the betterment of the county, state and most importantly OUR FAMILIES. FOR THAT REASON I PRAY FOR 100% VIRTUAL.

    15
  46. Don't shoot the messenger

    Hi Stan,
    I am just an administrator, but I would like to add my “two cents.” I know I am setting myself up for negativity from all sides, but hey, education must go on, and all will never be pleased – given the circumstances. You shared that for the most part, the parents want a “face-to-face” instructional setting. That means they accept the “potential” risks involved. However, we know that all students in Dekalb County cannot safely attend school in a traditional brick and mortar setting. Admittedly, as many have already shared – in March, we were really literally thrown to the “virtual wolves” with absolutely no plan of action – ok, got it. With all of that said, these MAY be viewed as viable options ON SOME LEVEL:

    1. Allow elementary and middle school students to utilize all elementary, middle and high schools, to practice safe, social distancing. This is the populace that would require child care and the most instructional support. Not to say high schools don’t but this would indeed be more doable, as parents will still be able to work as well, eradicating childcare, or missed work.

    2. High School students (only) would attend classes virtually. In an effort to not be overwhelmed, they will be utilizing an “A / B Schedule.” For example; Monday and Wednesday – ELA and Science. Then Tuesday and Thursday – Math and Social Studies. Fridays will serve as Make-up and tutorial day where all teachers will be required to support their students who are not thriving. This time will also allow teachers to contact parents on a constant basis. Now the accountability piece. The video conferencing tool, “TEAMS” can support a teacher and his/her students signing in (face-to-face) for 90 minus (as usual for instruction- a max of 38 students). This is inclusive of general education, exceptional education (where support and IEPs are followed closely, the inter-related teacher is online as well),are monitored and supported, English Language Learners, Gifted, and AP students. During pre-planning teachers will be required to attend in-services on how to develop and execute highly effective lesson plans, how to use resources that are readily assessable to them, how to assess, how to use TEAMS for group activities, progress monitor, and keep parents informed. Teachers will also be required to meet in their content areas, just as they would if attending a brick and mortar setting – nothing extra. Faculty meetings, etc., will be conducted via “TEAMS” as well. When elementary and middle schoolers arrive home, the older siblings for the MOST part, will already be there. Additionally during pre-planning, principals will ensure that each high school student has a Chromebook and internet access (hot spot). Once school begins, the entire first week will be dedicated to: teaching ALL students on how to sign-in, utilize group features, post assignments and take face to face assessments, as well as where to go to find support and resources on an immediate / consistent basis.
    NO FOUL, NO FURLOUGHS – Hey, We have to do something – and everyone wants an “earned” paycheck!
    Thank you for your time

    12
  47. Consider our health and safety

    Is education essential? Yes. Are we, the school staff/teachers/admins expendable? No. Virtual learning works if it mimics the similar structures on in-person instruction (how many of you ever took an online class?). The way Dekalb has done digital/virtual learning always (trop. storm Irma, weather closings) has not worked, because it’s treated like homework–we post assignments, but then students have another week to complete them? That’s not virtual learning. Also, no one ever emphasizes that online learning takes longer, so what’s given should be at least half of what’s done in person, not the same as, and not a bunch on online busywork. So, why didn’t it work in spring? Numerous reasons, but primarily, online class sessions we created were optional, so students didn’t have to sign in, there were no attendance and/or grade mandates that reinforced school for students, and no structure was given by the district until we had been doing it for 3 weeks. So, anything I set up on my own likely conflicted with my colleagues, so students who were actively working made choices about what classes to attend, especially when other mandates were removed or changed (AP and IB for example). Also, my schedule, with my own highschooler and spouse working from home also was different from other teachers who have infants or school-age kids at home, not to mention sick loved ones. Much planning goes into this, but as usual, teachers are left out of the conversation from the State level on down (NO teachers or even other employees in the biggest metro area districts were included on Kemp’s “return to school” task force).
    Instead of making us do “all the things” to prove we are working and not really counting it in the name of “equity,” treat virtual learning actual school and not enrichment. And, instead of furloughs, when looking at a hybrid model why not offer a digital learning day per week so that no one is in the building (save resources, clean properly) and perhaps certain subjects or grade levels alternate those days. Something. Anything other than returning back to “normal” during an abnormal time so the glorified babysitter role can be maintained for the other parents to go back to work. I should add, Rockdale has a very good, reasonable model.
    For all those who support in-person or virtual only, how will those who teach online vs. on campus be determined? How will we be protected when some of our buildings don’t have running water in the bathrooms, or proper HVAC (when we return annually)? How will we distance with 35+ students in a classroom? What about the sub and custodian shortages we’ve had for the past 6-8 years? Who will be cleaning between class changes, and how will that be maintained with students eating in rooms not the cafeteria? My spouse had the virus in March, and was sick for almost a month. If DCSD employees get ill (which with what’s being discussed, will happen), who teaches those classes? Does everyone who’s been in my class/building/presence then get tested? Do I use my sick time for the more than 3 days leave I would need to quarantine, etc?
    For all of the essential workers I’ve seen their employers have taken EXTRA measures in their workplaces to keep them safe–calling us essential but not including those who are forced to be face to face with more than 10 people a day in any of the conversations or decision-making is criminal. These are hard decisions, but shouldn’t be made in a bubble, or more ironically, in virtual meetings right now when most government buildings are closed and the leaders are working from home.

    21
  48. My only question as an educator and parent is how will this face to face schooling look in the days of COVID. With social distancing enforced, how much of a true education will students have. Most studies show that students benefit greatly for small hands on teaching approaches. And how much of this will happen? If teachers are going to go in the stand in the front of the class and lecture style, students will still lose out on an education. Many teachers will probably spend their days more worried about keep kids socially distanced from each other and following CDC guidelines than teaching. I know for my own kids that will this will be hard for them to grasp that “yes I am at school, but this is not the school environment I left last March”.

    6
  49. Yolanda Copeland

    Kids are our future please don’t have kids in school with this killing virus. They need to stay home and learn its not safe for the kids at all nooooo

    12
  50. A few questions:

    1 Not if, but WHEN teachers are out sick how does one plan to get subs to fill the spots? I would not willing walk into the classroom of someone out sick knowing what they could have.
    2. If teachers are being furloughed, how does one expect the teacher who have students in younger grades to be able to afford extra child care expenses?
    3. With some days in school and some days out, many students will attend daycare coming into contact with even more people than necessary and then heading back to the classroom as well. Will that be helpful in preventing the spread?
    4. How about cleaning supplies for the teachers? I cannot find enough Lysol or Lysol wipes to even begin to donate anything to assist with the amount that will be needed.
    5. All day in the classroom – I’m assuming one teacher must be there the entire day though there are breaks (make /grab lunch, restroom breaks, etc) needed, how will that look? If there is not an official plan then unfortunately it will be forgotten.
    6. Lastly, what will bathroom breaks look like? Limiting the amount of students in the bathrooms at schools that only have two bathrooms for the entire school will result in bathroom breaks taking half of your school day, how will we ensure safety in these higher traffic areas?

    The long term unknown is my biggest concern because as much as many people seem unconcerned with getting this, I’m concerned more on the long term unknown rather than the right now.

    If we cannot hold on person meetings (board with people in the crowd, staff meetings, parent conferences or meetings etc.) then why would consider sending 500-1200 kids and staff back into the building together?

    These are all just questions that I would love answers to so I can ensure my kid is safe in the school environment. Having an upcoming first grader, I am not confident that the entire day will be used constantly reminding them to keep their mask on, telling them to sit down, reminding them do not touch anyone, etc.

    Thank you

    13
  51. Stan Jester

    I think we can all agree on the importance of education. By and large the community seems to agree that education is an Essential Service. If we go 100% virtual …

    Question 1: – How do we determine the effectiveness of 100% virtual?

    Question 2: – What do we do if 100% virtual is not going well?

    3
  52. Fair questions!

    I think there needs to be some sort of “curriculum”. Yes, tough to do but I do think it can be done because there are many online K-12 programs that do this every year for home school students. Definitely will take time to find the best thing for us as a whole but maybe reaching out to someone in those programs, I feel like during this time they would be willing to work with the counties to share their methods and resources during a pandemic.

    However, I do not have the answers!

    1
  53. DSW2Contributor

    A UPI article:
    Atlanta Braves veteran outfielder Nick Markakis has opted out of the 2020 MLB season after an “eye-opening” discussion with All-Star first baseman and teammate Freddie Freeman. Markakis, 36, said he felt uneasy about playing the season without fans in attendance. He was then swayed by a phone conversation with Freeman, who has experienced a fever and other symptoms after testing positive for the coronavirus.
    Advertisement

    “Just hearing him, the way he sounded on the phone, it was tough,” Markakis told reporters Monday. “It was kind of eye-opening. With everything that’s going on, not just with baseball but all over the world, it makes you open your eyes.”
    https://www.upi.com/Sports_News/MLB/2020/07/06/Braves-Nick-Markakis-opts-out-after-eye-opening-talk-with-Freddie-Freeman/7501594087736/

    5
  54. Frustrated

    Hi, Stan,

    There has been so much conversation on both sides about this–and all with valid concerns. As much as I agree medically that 100% virtual would be best, it does not work for everyone. There are so many students who will be left even further behind–not due to the teachers’ lack of teaching, but too many other variables. I really think parent choice is the way to go–that way the decision will be left up to the parents. I do see the point that someone made that the schools with lower SES with parents who cannot afford to stay home for work or arrange for childcare will be more crowded than the schools with higher SES whose parents can afford good childcare or to stay home–therefore causing more risk. I don’t know what the solution is to that. I really don’t think that 100% virtual is going to be appropriate. Until people start wearing masks in public, this virus is going to continue to explode in our community–that’s the nature of the virus. People aren’t doing the right thing. So, with that said, how should Dekalb plan? There are no easy answers.

    4
  55. DSW2Contributor

    Gwinnett School board member Everton Blair: “As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across Gwinnett county, the state and the nation, I do not think we should reopen schools for in-person instruction,”
    Blair is pushing the digital learning option for beginning the school year, which he wants delayed until after Labor Day so health officials have more time to track cases and plan for widespread testing.
    https://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/local/gwinnett-board-of-education-to-discuss-plans-for-fall-semester-at-called-meeting/article_b8ae5e46-bff7-11ea-8f15-9bfccb3708a3.html

    11
  56. Concerned Teacher and Parent

    Stan,

    The fact of the matter is, it is not safe for students or teachers to return to buildings. There are new findings that the virus is airborne and can linger in enclosed spaces for long periods of time. 7,000 children have contracted the virus in Florida and schools aren’t even open yet. We still don’t know how the virus effects children in the long-term, nor do we know the true long-term effects of the virus in adults. However, people are reporting neurological issues, reduced lung function, balancing issues, and continued symptoms of the virus for months after contracting it. Putting children and adults at risk like this is irresponsible. Virtual learning is going to take time to perfect, but how long do we put off tackling the task? We have an opportunity now to figure out the kinks and figure out what works best. I doubt that this will be the last time we’ll be confronted with a situation like this, so why not figure it out now? It seems like a lot of people think that it’s just “too hard” and would rather risk people’s lives and overall health rather than put in the work to figure it out.

    18
  57. Concerned Mama

    Dekalb County has one if the highest number of COVID-19 cases
    Our students are middle schoolers and can be very challenging to follow the simplest of instructions.
    I feel to not go completely online would be a recipe for disaster. What happens if outbreaks in the
    Schools occur? How responsible will you be?
    To risk the lives of students and staff is unconscionable.
    Students take their masks off to eat in the classroom is a recipe for disaster.
    They will laugh and cough and the virus will get out.
    What about teachers with children. To have teachers and students to come into
    The school is like walking into an incubator a

    16
  58. Stan Jester

    Hello @Frustrated. Enrollment and CapacityEnrollment and Capacity numbers will drive the ability to socially distance more than anything. Schools at 40% capacity will be able to socially distance much more easily than schools at 130% capacity.

    8
  59. NewTeacher-OldHatAtThisGame

    Until we know more about this virus and the effects on the body I am for all virtual. Unfortunately we do not have a cohesive oversight dealing with this pandemic. National leaders first called it a hoax, and now wish it to just “go away.” State leadership fell in step with the aforementioned. The ‘survey’ sent to us in DeKalb were the same questions given to those in Fulton, Cobb, Henry…how is that even possible when all of the counties are independent? There had to have been a boiler plate supplied by the state – and probably a given guideline for reopening as well. I don’t think for a minute that the counties are acting independently. I think the GDoE has dictated how and when to reopen. This pandemic has been politicized, and we educators and our students are pawns in the game.

    12
  60. How often will the district test teachers, staff, and students for Covid?

    Question 1: – How do we determine the effectiveness of 100% virtual? Listen to the teachers that are working directly with students. They are trained, and knowledgeable professionals. They know when a student has a concept and when they do not.

    Question 2: – What do we do if 100% virtual is not going well? Support the teachers with resources to reach those that are not grasping a concept. Bring back support staff, para pros and tutors. Support staff are trained to work with students and can meet with them on -line to provide the extra support that is needed.

    9
  61. Frank White

    Stan,

    Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, teachers will get paid leave. Is this your understanding as well.
    Thanks again for all your hard word. #nofurloughdays

    5
  62. Stan Jester

    @Frank,
    What do we do about employees that feel that COVID is too dangerous and that they cannot/should not go back into work? I’ve asked the Superintendent and Legal team to officially address this question. They are going to either email their analysis to me or be ready to talk about it at Monday’s board meeting. Either way, it’ll be a few days before I get an answer to that question. I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t see how the district can operate if all employees decide they want to take paid leave under the CARES Act.

    @Corbett,
    I’m concerned that schools will not admit to failing … traditionally they rarely admit to their shortcomings. Given the realities of our current financial situation, I’m not sure throwing money and people at a problem is a viable option. The school district has currently tried that approach for failing schools to some extent with the numerous wrap around services with minimal success.

    4
  63. Vanessa Thompson

    Please refresh my memory:
    I know there was an online survey to stakeholders concerning preferences for virtual, hybrid, traditional models. How were stakeholders contacted who didn’t have access to an online device?

    1
  64. Stan Jester

    @Vanessa Thompson. You bring up a good point about a larger issue. Currently many families either don’t have devices or don’t have internet access. Seems like the virtual solution will completely leave them behind … including the online survey.

    2
  65. Dunwoody Diva

    DeKalb would be smart to put off in person school until after Labor Day.
    This gives them plenty of time to plan and the teachers can feel comfortable and confident with the plan.
    I would say with almost 100% accuracy there will be in person school available this Fall.
    Hence the article below concerning Florida public schools.
    I have a feeling Georgia will be next:(
    https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/07/us/florida-schools-reopen-august-trnd/index.html

    3
  66. Stan Jester

    Interesting move by Florida. They are leaving it up to the parents to some extent. The Florida’s emergency order acknowledges differing scenarios in different parts of the state. It also recognizes that not all parents intend to send their children back to school buildings come August. Florida education department officials made clear that parents must have the in person option available to them if health conditions allow.

    2
  67. I agree that the Spring Virtual learning experience was chaotic and the workload was crazy because no one was prepared for that. Dekalb issued Chromebooks to the majority of students to get them used to working with online programs, yes initially as additional support, but children are homeschooled everyday in normal situations so virtual can work. Once we figured out the schedule and expectations of our teachers it was effective for my children because I checked their work and kept in contact with their teachers. Assignments that my child and I didn’t understand his teacher explained via FaceTime communication. I am a single mother and I have been home since March 13th because the Preschool I work at follows Dekalb County’s schedule. I am also in school myself and I miss being in class but I am extremely thankful that I am not on campus now and virtual learning is working for me (my teachers weren’t prepared for it either but we all made it work). This semester has gone a lot smoother. I understand from each end because I need an income, virtual learning can work. I don’t feel comfortable sending my children back to their overcrowded schools masks or no masks because every student won’t a)wear them or b)keep them on all day. @We are Dekalb you made some excellent points, thank you. I know we just welcomed our new Superintendent but is she familiar enough with each school in Dekalb County to safely say “yes returning to school is best”? I love my children’s teachers, Principals, and staff and I fear for them just as much as I do my children. Education is essential, teachers are essential. No one knows what our world will look like in August so for those parents that still want to send their children as the teacher teaches stream an online feed or record and upload for those that do not want to send theirs. Those that want to make it work will and those that don’t probably won’t do the work in person either.

    3
  68. Class of 2021

    For seniors there are already college applications open and a lot of questions about the SAT and ACT. When will we be able to meet with our teachers and counselors to get guidance?

    3
  69. Stan Jester

    Hello @Class Of 2021. Good question. Please email your counselors, principal and assistant principals. Let us know what they say. –Stan

  70. Concerned Parent

    Some weeks ago, I answered the survey saying instruction should be hybrid – no virtual only option. Spring semester was a “virtual” disaster and I did not want it repeated. When I answered those questions, I thought the US/Georgia would do the smart thing and bring the pandemic under control to a manageable level like so many other developed countries. Boy, was I wrong.

    Given where we are and the fact that we are unlikely to control this pandemic any time soon, as a parent, I don’t think it is safe to send my kid in an enclosed building with poor HVAC systems. Kids can’t be expected to keep their masks on, wash their hands, etc. as diligently as adults. And then they will bring the virus home and infect their parents. This will amplify the pandemic in our communities.

    Regrettably, the only option right now is to go full virtual, but I like the ideas above that we need to implement it better. Is the Board talking to Georgia Cyber Academy or other online schools to implement a better solution? I like small-group Zoom sessions. We need consistency on software platforms/tools that will be utilized so that parents have one place to go for all teachers to download assignments, send messages, and upload assignments. I like the one-on-one 10 min. session idea. I also think you could have small groups meet up outdoors at the school in a socially distanced way to provide the in-person and social interaction. Kids in need should be provided chromebooks. If they don’t have Internet, they can come and sit in the school cafeteria and use the WiFi.

    These are dangerous times. Let’s not misstep in the short term. With good leadership, this too shall pass.

    11
  71. Stan–Recognizing this is an incredibly hard decision with sound arguments in every camp, it would help to know if there are plans around:
    1) If the students/staff go back at all what is the plan if a student/staff member test positive?
    2) What if a certain percentage of the building tests positive or becomes ill?
    3) What plans are there to meet the accommodations of the students/staff who are medically or educationally vulnerable?
    4) What actual training have staff/students received on digital learning?
    5) If we start virtual what is the plan for reentry?
    Without a plan around these things how can the board vote. From a parent perspective I desperately want my HS student to go back to school. He needs the social interaction but I’m not willing to risk anyone’s health or life for this need.

    4
  72. If schools do not report their shortcomings, then they will not report shortcomings with virtual based classrooms. Without trusting our professionals to show accountability for and to their students, then that question is just posturing to give the appearance that different options are being considered.
    In normal circumstances, all of the data supports: smaller class sizes, support personnel and individualized educational programs to meet students where they are.
    If this is not the time to reallocate money and put the students and teachers first by “throwing money and personnel at them”, then our priorities are skewed.
    Because of the lack of leadership back in March at local, state and national levels, and the continued dysfunction that has manifested since, we are still dealing with major public health concerns that could have been overcome. We do not have the luxury of experimenting with different ideas to see what would happen. Swift and decisive action needs to occur, or, according to health experts, we will be prolonging the inevitable.

    5
  73. Concerned Teacher

    There are many great comments here, but I haven’t seen any about air ventilation in our schools. Many of our schools are old with poor ventilation. My school has air-conditioning problems every year. According to the CDC guidelines for re-opening, schools are required to have proper ventilation by ensuring that ventilation systems operate properly. Hopefully the county is taking this concern into consideration, especially with new reports that the virus is airborne.

    23
  74. The CDC guidelines for school Re-Opening needs to be mandatory for the school system. If the schools can not comply with the CDC guidelines they should be closed. The school district must protect all. This pandemic is in full swing. Is there hot water in the rest rooms at schools so children can wash their hands? Some basic infectious disease protocols need to be developed and followed.

    11
  75. Will the results of the survey be posted for everyone to view?

    3
  76. Stan Jester

    @Concerned Parent, DeKalb Schools has its own Cyber Academy. Students can go 100% online through DeKalb Schools if they wish.

    @D, Good questions. I hope the administration is trying to answer exactly those questions. We’ll find out Monday.

    @Corbett, I trust our professionals, but I need more than just asking them how’s it going. I don’t understand your comment “posturing to give the appearance that different options are being considered.”

    I’ve been trying to drive money into the classroom for 6 years. Teacher salaries are up, but I think we can do better. I’m also battling with the administration’s desire to “preserve jobs”.

    @Katie, I’ll be sure to post the results of the survey here.

    5
  77. If DCSS doesn’t offer a COVID-specific virtual option that would allow students to receive virtual instruction while remaining enrolled in their home schools, will DeKalb’s Cyber Academy be prepared for a huge increase in enrollment?

    2
  78. Stan Jester

    @B2, I believe DeKalb’s Cyber Academy is scalable. –Stan

    1
  79. Anna Grazette

    When do the Dekalb county schools for disability childhood back and how many to a class and are they expected to wear mask?

    1
  80. I hope that if or when doing Virtual learning the teachers and kids actually log on and have class. We were done wrong when all of this came about. Almost like being thrown to the wolves.

  81. Wear a mask

    Gwinnett and now Clayton are reconsidering their reopening plans. If we can’t get the adults to do what’s right by simply wearing and/or requiring a face mask, then why should teachers and others in “essential” jobs be forced to willingly put themselves at risk?

    And to the individual, @Zach, who claims they would be fine having their kids go back to a full reopening with no social distancing or face masks shows how reckless people are in these streets and substantiates the fears teachers (and others) have about an in-person reopening. It also explains why I can’t/won’t trust being around folks like him or their kids. Just stupid for no reason!

    24
  82. What is Dekalb cyber academy? Never heard of this… How does one go about finding this information?
    I’ve heard of Georgia cyber academy and those alike… Same program?
    I have an upcoming first grader and I work for the county… Never knew this existed.

    Also, if we have an online program why would that not be utilized with all teachers during a pandemic?

    1
  83. There is no good solution

    This may be a completely wishful thinking suggestion, but why can’t the teachers just teach as they normally would to an empty class room with a zoom session on. The kids would log in to the zoom meeting during their class period from home. The kids would have their normal school day, just be joining different zoom meeting every hour. The kids that don’t have internet access (or the ones that NEED to be in school) come to school and sit in the library or cafeteria to gain the internet access. As one other person suggested, maybe this would only work at the higher levels, allowing elementary school and 6th graders to spread out among all of the elementary and middle schools for social distancing. Having k-3 in elementary schools and 4-6 in the middle schools. The teachers would then be teaching to half of the class at a time, so to get all of the students to get their core class instruction, the actual core instruction time might have to be altered.

    3
  84. The school district has a responsibility to protect students, staff and teachers from COVID-19. If they can not…stay closed. Last time I was in elementary schools in Dekalb county schools (Last year) there was not hot water to wash hands in student restrooms. The schools are not prepared for a safe Covid 19 opening. Ventilation flow in old buildings? There should be an Online option for students who need to stay home because parents have these safety concerns.

    9
  85. FYI, I just looked at the “Schools” tab on the DCSD home page plus the list of schools for each Regional Superintendent.

    There is no listing for any sort of virtual school except Flex Academy, which serves only grades 9-12.

    Last year’s DCSD budget for Flex Academy is quite interesting!

    Flex Academy teachers are all listed as “Specialists, Virtual Learning.” The salary ranges from $61,435 per year to $87,165 per year.

    There are 11 of these “Specialists, Virtual Learning.”

    Flex Academy also includes an Administrative Assistant, a Counselor, a Director, and a Program Manager. All of these job titles have “Virtual Learning” in the title.

    This tells me at least a couple of things:

    1. DCSD created a totally separate job description for teachers who exclusively teach virtually rather than in a classroom (although the Flex Academy page says that Flex Academy teachers meet weekly with their students.)

    2. DCSD pays these “Virtual Learning Specialists” a whole lot more than most teachers.

    One more nugget. The Director of Flex Academy is Monika Davis, who is currently serving as Interim Chief Information Technology Officer.

    I don’t know how many students each Virtual Learning Specialist serves at a time. Since Flex Academy isn’t a school there is no way to monitor student performance or teacher workload.

    I hope Flex Academy is doing a great job and is capable of scaling up for this fall. But like most things in DCSD, the fact that no accountability data is posted makes me wonder about its performance.

    6
  86. Provocative Thought

    stan
    It seems like the biggest issue surrounding safety, if safety is Truly the biggest factor is space and the ability to implement guidelines provided by the CDC.
    As a teacher, March was tough on many of us. I thankfully have been using an online model while teaching in person because, truthfully it seemed irresponsible to not prepare my highschool kids with that exposure in this day and age. Transitioning wasn’t that big a deal for my students. (Their experience DID NOT consist of Worksheets either. )All of us became better at dealing with teaching our kids online fully, with very little training or forewarning. There was a lot of growth between March and June in this regard.

    For those who are skeptical about the quality or for preparedness of online instruction, I would say to keep in mind that things became more streamlined and clearer as time went on. If necessary that trend will continue.

    But for younger school age children, I can’t see online being as effective since there are so many intangibles that come with educating younger students. A whole school building full of children, teachers, and aux staff cannot follow guidelines, nor ensure compliance on a level that would make anyone feel safe or secure.

    Since it might be easier and more effective for older kids to be taught online once a clear standard has been established; why not use the high schools to thin out the population of students in each region?

    They could still have daily in person instruction with the recommended spacing. It’s definitely easier logistically to move students, and the same amount of buses that would typically run a normal school day could be repurposed to transport elementary instead of high school students.

    Special education students from K-12 could still be included and still provide the needed space.

    This by no means solves the moral, emotional, or economic hurdles, but it does give perspective that could be explored to better navigate what seems to be an impossible situation. Has that option even been discussed?

    3
  87. The schools need to follow CDC guidelines to reopen. It is the school systems responsibility to make the school safe for re-opening. If they can not…stay closed. Follow the science…keep everyone safe.

    7
  88. Parent of young kids

    Thank you Marshall for the update. Here are my general thoughts as a business person with a 5 year old and 7 year old and wife who also works 50+ hours a week.
    1. We need kids to have strong familiarity with their teacher from in-person interactions, otherwise virtual learning will lack any success. As an adult, how long would you succeed having never met co-workers or your managers? Looping should be considered where possible if school gets cut to volunteer virtual learning.
    2. Siblings in different grades need to be on the same schedule of any variances offered (split in person and virtual).
    3. Understand parents often are both working 40-60 hour jobs. If schools close then businesses close because workers become teachers. Then tax dollars go down. Then school budgets go down and we have less to invest in school infrastructure (significantly needed in Dekalb). That leads to teacher job cuts because funding is stressed. Many local governments are facing this reality from the economic shutdown. Thank you for addressing the important economic role schools play.
    4. Public education of children should be seen as a right above almost everything else. Risk analysis should be performed on what % of children under certain ages are able to be carriers and transmit CoronaVirus. If for example there is very low transmission amongst children and from child to adult, this low risk should be weighed heavily. If transmission is unknown, then the right of public education should be weighed heavily. If there is high transmission then maybe it should become a choice for students and teachers. Those uncomfortable can stay remote. Those who are comfortable can be in-person (student and teacher)
    5. Masks. If stats show kids have low transmission then let’s not make young ones wear them as they are a distraction. Maybe that age cutoff is in the 10-12 year range where older than that you wear masks. If transmission is high or unknown then have kids wear masks except to answer questions and read out loud or to eat.

    1
  89. Concerned Parent and Teacher

    Do parents suddenly stop working when their students are out of school for summer break? What do these parents do with their children during those two and a half months?

    12
  90. Parent of Young Kids

    @ Concerned Parent and Teacher – for summer plans we are taking two short family trips to visit relatives. But for probably 8 of the weeks our kids are in Summer Camps. YMCA has day camps from 8am – 6pm.
    We also had the kids in art camp for 2 weeks that had hours of 8am- 5pm. Art camp was expensive but the YMCA is affordable for all. The camps seemed very full and followed social distancing with parents and kids. Is that helpful?
    The YMCA camp strongly encourages masks and our 7 year old wears most of the time. Our rising Kindergarten child usually wears it (she just turned 5)

    2
  91. Concerned Parent

    As a parent with a child in the district, I found Study.com to be a great resource. The short micro-lesson kept him engaged and interested in what was assigned to him. I can see Study.com helping many families and their students as the district transitions to a hybrid system to ensure the safety of the students and the educators. For those parents and educators concern with keeping our students on track and providing them with the best education option do yourselves a favor and take a few minutes to research Study.com. It has been worth every penny. The platform has definitely kept me from having to teach myself in order to help my child with the homework assigned. Maybe Study.com can be a resource the district can provide to each student to help supplement the curriculum and to keep students on track. Just a thought.

    5
  92. Concerned Parent and Teacher

    Are there any parents who literally cannot work while their child is on summer break? I’m asking because it seems as if one of the main arguments for kids returning to schools is that we (teachers) need to provide childcare for these students while their parents work. Keisha Lance Bottoms contracted Covid and she said her only symptoms were those that resembled her allergies (slight cough, runny nose, etc.). I can guarantee that every teacher is going to be hyper-vigilant in looking out for any symptoms of Covid, and those students who exhibit those symptoms will be sent home along with any classmates or teachers who’ve come in contact with them. All of those teachers and students will have to quarantine until they can provide test results saying that they’ve tested negative for the virus before they’re allowed to return to school. Keep in mind that a negative test result on a Thursday does not mean someone can’t contract the virus over the weekend, so a student or teacher has the potential to be sent home multiple times a week or month. So how will parents maintain a consistent work schedule if they have to take off and stay home with their child every time their child has a slight cough or a runny nose? If I return to work, I will send any child that exhibits the slightest symptoms to the nurse to be sent home in an effort to protect not only that child, but other students, teachers, and families. I’m sure other teachers will be instructed to do the same. That’s going to be extremely frustrating for parents and teachers alike (especially for those of us who are parents AND teachers).

    14
  93. @concerned parent and teacher- Excellent points.

    1
  94. Just Wondering

    I also had suggested earlier that we use HS buildings for younger children, but I failed (and have yet to see anyone else address) these two BIG problems with that plan:

    1. Staffing–let’s say you cut the class sizes in half (which may not even be enough to properly social distance students from each other and the teacher). At a minimum, you would have to DOUBLE the number of teachers needed (since no one wants younger kids to be on a hybrid schedule). Someone (DSW2, I think) already pointed out that there are 246 teacher vacancies right now. Where would these other certified teachers be found and how would they be paid?

    2. Equipment size–HS buildings are for larger students, from chairs and tables, desks, and bathroom fixtures. It would be difficult for small children to effectively use most HS classrooms and bathrooms.

    Pertaining to Flex Academy, if that platform is working, why not make it available to all the HS teachers and students? At least that way, students across the county would be receiving the same curriculum regardless of where they live. That seems like a real no-brainer. Thanks to the person who looked up all of that information.

    4
  95. Is there a chance (in the event they do push on with in-person learning) individual schools will be given the freedom to adjust the larger Dekalb plan as needed per their overcrowding, facilities, and individual constraints?

    I didn’t get the impression Georgia Cyber Academy could take on a mass influx of students when I was researching it last week…I will look again and report findings.

    Do the schools have magic access to disinfectants and Clorox wipes? I do not think most people will be able to send this sort of thing in off a school supply list…:I’m hoping they aren’t dependent on parents sending them either. Imagine the amount they would go through!

    9
  96. Contributor

    Covid is airborne. Just something to take into account when planning.
    Thanks for your work, Stan!
    https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciaa939/5867798?fbclid=IwAR3FEijrN_wzwRNzuSo_TK4z534Y-sF8IPGjN7d6G3QRMtSzDVGIMCqZEiY

    7
  97. DeKalb is not unique in having questions about what our school openings will look like. Given the increasing numbers of COVID19 cases, it is not surprising that some districts are reconsidering plans made earlier. Planning for a moving target is challenging and it will require some flexibility from everyone. Several of the ideas suggested here are worthy of consideration and should be offered as possible options.

    I read a 300+ list of questions formulated by teachers in another state about considerations for schools opening. Given we are such a litigious society, I wonder if school districts will be ‘held harmless’ if a student or staff member contracts the virus while at a school, if we decide on some model of face to face instruction. Would those parents who are insistent on face to face instruction be willing to sign a waiver (similar to what we are seeing some college football teams asking of players) that releases the district from any litigation if their child contracts the virus?

    Along the same lines, there are some teachers that may be willing to work in the school. What protections will be afforded to them if they contract the virus? Will they along with all members of the class need to self isolate for at least 14 days before possibly returning? There are many logistical concerns that should be honestly and openly discussed in order to give teachers and staff the comfort level needed for whichever teaching model is decided.

    All this is interesting consideration so many want to cut the overall school budget. Many workers at the Sam Moss center were cut as they were considered a part of the Central office. These were workers that help to supplement work at the schools given the custodial staff couldn’t do everything that was needed. We could really need more workers to help with cleaning our schools now. How about a 2nd nurse at the school, one to handle cases of children with the virus and one handling those that get sick during the day. Will more counselors and social workers be needed at the schools? All this is happening at time with tax revenues are falling.

    Devising workable solutions will take efforts and input from all citizens. As it has been mentioned, there will not be a perfect solution regardless of what is ultimately decided.

    11
  98. Aren't HS years important too?

    Is the only reason you’re pushing for the younger kids in school because of the child care aspect? I think it’s convoluted.

    I can teach a second grader math or language arts. I can’t teach an 11th grader AP Physics or Calculus. That would lead me to want the older kid in school for in-person education.

    Younger kids are going to have a hard time with masks, touching, sneezing, all the things they don’t really control anyway. Older kids already know how to manage these aspects. If you were a teacher would you want snotty young kids around you who might have Covid or older kids?

    Half of high school kids can drive to school, an obvious advantage when you’re talking about the social distancing required for buses.

    I would suggest that 11th and the first half of 12th grade is much more important to many college-bound kids than 2nd grade and the first half of third.

    Similarly, I would suggest that younger kids have years to catch up to what’s happening. Those about to graduate – not so much.

    I’m sure there’s a list in favor of younger kids besides just the child care aspect. But let’s not assume that just shunting the HS students aside is the best way to deal with this.

    My personal opinion – two systems. Online for those who want it, in person for those who want that.

    5
  99. Novice Teacher

    Gwinnett County just finished their board meeting. I teach in DeKalb, but live in Gwinnett. Start date moved back to Aug 17th, teachers will get 2 weeks of planning.
    Masks will be required for staff and students. Parents must provide masks, but the district will provide masks for teachers. Extra masks will be on hand if students need them.
    In primary grades, teachers will not use the carpet to gather students for large group.
    Meals will primarily be eaten in the classrooms. Some schools are large enough and scheduling may allow for some to eat in the cafeteria.
    There will be training on contact tracing.
    They are working on keyless options for lunch, such as providing IDs students can scan or using phones (high schoolers).
    Although parents still have to make their choice by July 10th, the district will review virtual learning every 9 weeks to see if adjustments are made and possibly let parents switch their child’s mode of learning.
    Students will still be able to receive lunch if they choose virtual learning, however buses will not drop off meals. There will be pickup locations.
    Attendance will be taken for those who choose virtual learning. It seems as though they might actually live stream the teacher in the classroom teaching the face to face students. They are working so that teachers don’t have to do double duty.

    9
  100. dekalbteacher

    Stan,

    How is the starting point virtual or in-person?
    We most certainly will need to plan for some virtual. The district has had almost four months to do so. Although no one knows what that has been.

    Can you tell us if the district has done any of the following:

    Determined which school buildings can supply the open window ventilation the CDC recommends?

    Begun creating proper ventilation that circulates clean air in usable school buildings?

    Purchased infection killing lights AND begun installing them?

    Begun designing and constructing some outdoor learning spaces?

    Cloth masks, worn properly or improperly, and “ social distancing,” whatever that looks like entering and walking through a school, will not protect any of us.

    13

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *