Teachers and Students Are Coming Back To School

Community spread appears to no longer be a factor in the schedule for opening schools in DeKalb. DeKalb schools administration is moving forward with getting teachers and students back into school.

Message From DeKalb Schools Administration

Although the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing, DCSD’s leadership, with guidance from the COVID-19 Task Force, CDC, and DeKalb County Board of Health, agrees that we must be vigilant and focus on the mitigation strategies to reduce transmission and prepare for re-opening schools in January 2021. The District will proceed with high quality instruction in a concurrent learning environment. The concurrent learning environment will support students based on their families’ choice to either attend school in-person or continue with distance/remote learning.

Key Dates

Your school is organizing classes into two cohorts based on last name to adhere to social/physical distancing requirements and safety guidance. Your school will provide your child’s cohort assignment if you have chosen for your child to return for in person learning. If you did not complete the Intent to Return form, your child is being programmed as an in-person learner. However, parents may contact the local school by January 8, 2021 if you want to change your preference. School leaders will collaborate with families to align the schedules of siblings. In the hybrid learning model, Wednesdays will be reserved for small group instruction, tutoring, appointments for student conferencing, parent conferencing, services, professional learning, and instructional planning.

Re-Opening Schedule – January and February

614 responses to “Teachers and Students Are Coming Back To School

  1. From the Get Schooled FB page:
    COVID-19 takes the life of another Georgia teacher. Kelley Cordell Gaines was 47 with three daughters. A middle school teacher for 21 years, she taught at Hart County Middle School where she was a STEM coordinator.
    Kelley Gaines came down with the virus at Thanksgiving and was hospitalized Dec. 2. She died Dec. 20 at Oconee Memorial Hospital, Seneca, S.C.
    Her husband, Greg, chronicled her battle with the virus on Facebook.


  2. DSW2Contributor

    ^ There is a “School Personnel Lost To Covid” (@LostToCovid) Twitter account that posts news articles and obituaries of US school personnel lost to Covid.

    Sadly, they’re up to 614 educators lost.

  3. Take Back the SENATE

    Question for Alison:
    Do you have any other things to do besides aimlessly drone on here about nothing? I am getting tired of your nonsense.

  4. @IGetItBut: You Don’t Get It is exactly right. I would add that we are also legally responsible for anything that happens in the classroom if we step away and it is unattended with children in it. This translates into hours at times that you cannot go to the bathroom because there is no one who can watch your classroom. We often have only minutes per day to go to to the bathroom if it is not our planning period or lunch, and adult bathrooms are usually not close by. Do you also have that issue at your desk, that you cannot on a daily, weekly, yearly basis step away from it for a few minutes except after a period of 2-4 hours, and if you do, then you are held responsible for any incident that occurs at your desk? Also, do you go to the bathroom during te five minutes you might hav and regularly find no toilet paper, no soap, no hot water? I know the corporate world has its own challenges, as I have worked in it before, but you can only understand ours if you have experienced them firsthand. I think you would be surprised……

  5. Just ignore anyone from the private sector who wants to compare teaching to their own jobs. They have no clue and so just don’t even listen. Their not worth one minute of our time. No other profession deals with all the crap we deal with (except maybe police officers/firemen). There’s no point in even trying to explain our daily lives at school because they won’t ever spend a month in our shoes to see what we are so pissed about.

    And of course when we deal with them in the real world we act like professionals and put a big smile on our faces when we discuss their children with them. I don’t want to fake it anymore :(. I’m not ok with going back during Covid and I just don’t have it in me to fake it for parents or administration. Anyone else?

  6. Educated Educator

    I agree!

  7. My messages today were supportive, offering ideas to help improve conditions for teachers. If offering support, ideas, and help is somehow a bad thing, then you don’t deserve it.
    Stay safe.

  8. My messages today were supportive, offering ideas to help improve conditions for teachers. If offering support, ideas, and help is somehow a bad thing, then you don’t deserve it. I offer help and you Stupidly berate me?? Just quit your job then, or suck it up, accept what you have, and completely stop bitching. Either continue to be part of the problem, or seek solutions in an organized, professional manner. Stay safe.

  9. @ Alison Mercer,

    But your messages yesterday were mean-spirited and hateful, so which Alison Mercer are we to engage? Kali or Mary Magdalene?

  10. Smudge the Repugs

    You have offered neither hope nor solutions. Do you honestly think your puerile suggestion that you garner a list of things teachers want the administration to address will actually accomplish anything? They’re just waiting for your suggestions, Alison.

  11. I wasn’t hateful, but that’s fine. I was trying to help with professional solutions today. So much for that. Good luck to all.

  12. DSW2Contributor

    GA DPH data as of 12/28/2020, 2:50:10 PM:

    Dekalb County, % Positive Last Two Weeks: 10.4%.

    Dekalb County, % PCR Tests Positive: 18.8
    Dekalb County, 7-Day Moving Average: 11.9

    Statewide, % PCR Tests Positive: 20.7
    Statewide, 7-Day Moving Average: 15.6

  13. DSW2Contributor

    A Google translation of a German article describing a Covid-19 outbreak at a school in Hamburg:
    “Almost 40 people infected with corona at the Heinrich Hertz School in Hamburg: When this became known in September, it was one of the first major outbreaks at a school in Germany. At the time, the authorities said: Many pupils had been infected outside of school. But now it turns out: That was not true. On the contrary, the outbreak is predominantly due to a person through whom the coronavirus then spread to the school.

    This emerges from information from the Hamburg labor, social and health authorities, which was published shortly before Christmas on the “Ask the State” platform (the request can be found here ). Accordingly, the Heinrich Pette Institute (HPI) and the Eppendorf University Hospital, in cooperation with the Hamburg-Nord Health Department, investigated the outbreak at the Heinrich Hertz School, a district school from the 5th grade onwards.

    “Most likely due to a source of infection”
    As a result, the researchers gained the following findings, it continues: “Infections / transmissions took place in school.” A large number of identical genome sequences were identified in the examined and usable samples. “Therefore, the vast majority of transmissions are most likely due to a single source of infection. The possibility that the outbreak results from independent entries can be ruled out with a probability bordering on certainty.

    When asked on Monday, Adam Grundhoff, the virologist responsible at HPI, added that the result was also so clear because the genome signature in question had not yet appeared in Hamburg at the time: “So this is due to a source.”

    In total, “under 30” cases could be reconstructed, which practically all had this genome signature. However, he does not assume that all outbreaks in schools run like this: “That is certainly more heterogeneous.” It is planned to incorporate the analysis into a larger study. The analysis was finished at the beginning of October, but he could not say when the results were communicated by the health department.

  14. DSW2Contributor

    And here is the original article, in case Herr Uwe Neuhaus or any of his former students are following Stan’s blog:

  15. You can go ahead and cry. I did, out of sadness and anger. Read to the very bottom. There is more than the main article.

  16. That letter from Cobb’s super just made me write my letter of resignation that I will be turning in on January 4th. I will not allow my family to see me treated in such a flippant, callous manner. That was truly disgusting.

  17. @ Dan or Terrible: is there a way to view it if you are not an AJC subscriber like me? I can pretty much surmise the tone, “sad they are gone, but let’s move on”, but I would like to see the prevalent callousness and disregard for the lives of staff in writing.

  18. DSW2Contributor

    A *FOURTH* Cobb Teacher was hospitalized with Covid-19:
    During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cobb County teacher Julia Varnedoe used her spare time to make masks for frontline healthcare workers.

    Now Varnedoe is spending her holiday season battling the same illness that’s overwhelmed doctors and nurses and forever changed the lives of millions of Americans.

    Paul Varnedoe said his wife was released Saturday and is “slowly getting better.”

    A teacher at Mount Bethel Elementary School, Varnedoe is the fourth known Cobb educator hospitalized with COVID-19, including art teacher Patrick Key who died on Christmas Day.

    Despite the illnesses, the Cobb County School District has not announced any plans to change its mix of in-person and remote learning for students.
    Also from the article:
    Varnedoe, who works from home, said he believes his wife contracted COVID-19 at school because the family has worked to limit their exposure outside of work. Varnedoe also said his wife is a breast cancer survivor, so she was extra vigilant about taking precautions due to her compromised immune system.

  19. DSW2Contributor

    This is the letter that Cobb Superintendent Chris Ragsdale sent out to announce the death of endricks Elementary art teacher Patrick Key, who died on Christmas Day:
    As I write to you on this Christmas evening, COVID-19 continues to turn days of celebration into days which remind us of the battle we are fighting. Today, a member of our Team, Patrick Key, lost his battle with COVID-19. The positive impact he made on the students in his classroom has been known for years, and we mourn with his family, the staff, and the community at Hendricks Elementary.

    As staff members, and for many of us as parents, this is not the first time the human impact of COVID-19 has brought feelings of loss, sorrow, and uncertainty. Since the first case of COVID-19 in Cobb, I have been consistently encouraged by the commitment our entire staff has made to our students, and I remain confident that we will beat COVID-19, as a Team and as a county. During one of the most challenging years of our lives, you are the reason every Cobb student has been given the chance to succeed, and our entire county is better for it.

    It is a time when, as a Team and as a community, our priorities are being tested in ways they have never been before. It is also a time when, as a Team, our Mission, our Vision, and our priorities are more important than ever.

    Our Mission has been, and continues to be, serving every student and family in Cobb County as One Team, with One Goal: Student Success. Our Vision has been, and continues to be, a school district of excellence, where all students succeed.

    Our first priority has been, and continues to be, student and staff safety.

    Since COVID-19 disrupted everything we know about schools and the classroom, we have made decisions based on three simple priorities: student and staff safety, guidance from public health experts who best understand COVID-19, and the ability for every Cobb family to choose the classroom environment which is best for their child. We need each of you as a member of our One Team to keep us aligned with those priorities.

    As a proud Superintendent who has seen this Team achieve more, while overcoming ever-changing obstacles, I am asking for you to maintain your commitment to your students in a very actionable way. Your commitment to student and staff safety is made real by following the public health guidance for Cobb families and staff and is the very best way you can continue to fight COVID-19 as One Team.

    We have already adapted our schools and our classrooms significantly, and we will continue to take every possible step to keep our hallways safe, our classrooms healthy, and our schools open both remotely and face-to-face. What will not change and what cannot change, is our commitment to every Cobb student as One Team, with One Goal. Your commitment to that Goal is what makes Cobb County the best place to teach, lead, and learn, and I thank you for it. Enjoy the rest of your holiday break, you certainly deserve it.

    Best regards,

    Chris Ragsdale

  20. Science & stats


    Georgia is 1 of 6 states in “crisis”. Setting records for # of hospitalizations, which is correlated with increases in deaths… Let’s stay out of DCSDs underperforming HVAC.

  21. If I worked in Cobb as a teacher, I’d quit effective immediately. How dare that superintendent take that tone. Shame. Most likely Mr. Key would still be here to ring in the new year if only he had been teaching in Dekalb county.
    And now, sadly, the DeKalb District wants to take away the safety they have been providing for all the students, faculty, and staff.
    It’s not too late, Superintendent Watson-Harris to stand up and continue to protect us all. Please.

  22. @DSW2Contributor: Thank you for posting the note. All I can say is wow. Very cold and calculating and dismissive of the value of human life.

  23. DSW2Contributor

    WHOA! The December 18 CDC article and infographic that is being used to say F2F schools are safe is actually based “upon a fundamental misunderstanding of statistics!”

    That is according to Justin Feldman, an Epidemiologist who is a Health & Human Rights Fellow at the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights:

  24. Allow teachers to leave without loosing their certification. Dekalb County teachers have taken the abuse for so long. Yes, surrounding counties are in school but look at their numbers. Teachers are treated like trash and we take it it but now the abuse is too much! Teachers do not deserve to to have their certification taken because they are not comfortable with f2f instruction.

    What do you think f2f instruction is going to look like? Students and teachers will not be able to understand each other with the mask. Teachers will still be teaching online. Students will still be on Chrome books. The difference is that students and teachers will not be able to communicate effectively.

  25. Time for Real Talk

    @Teacher123, your post from 12/28, 1:30pm, is spot on.

    For many years I worked a 12-month job in public higher education. I moved to a 10-month position with DCSD to have the same breaks as my young children. I am nearing the end of my 2nd full year with DCSD (I started mid-year). A few people told me it would be “challenging,” but I’ve had bad jobs before. How much worse could this be? It has been shocking. The stories teachers tell here are not exaggerated. Teachers don’t speak up, because there’s a pervasive culture of fear.

    I believe what is being translated here as teachers complaining is teachers **begging** for a modicum of respect. In my prior career, I was trusted to do my job well and was periodically evaluated–not constantly observed. I was given time on the clock to perform my assigned duties. I was allowed restroom breaks whenever I needed them and was never without soap, paper towels, and TP. I was supported by my clients instead of being attacked. (Parents/guardians, do you listen with reason to your child’s teachers or immediately become defensive?)

  26. Time for Real Talk

    Teachers received an email on August 24 that contained this line: “Here’s some great news for employees. The board approvals include a full salary step increase effective the first workday in January 2021 for eligible employees. A new pay plan will be sent prior to the change reflecting the new adjustment.” Can’t wait!

  27. I'm just saying.

    1899 American lives were lost to Covid-19 yesterday. Over 65,000 Americans have died this month from Covid-19, and December isn’t over yet. I’m just saying.

  28. @ Time for Real Talk…

    The new salary schedule is posted. I saw the new schedule last week. I am not sure it the schedule reflects a whole or half step.

    I hope the increase meets your expectations.

  29. Daily Rate,
    Thanks for the confirmation. I thought that was the way it worked but my confidence was rattled when my daughter informed me her circumstances are the opposite.

    Insurance benefits appear to be cafeteria style and I’ll model it with configurable split of the premiums. I don’t know if retirees have access to these group plans should they retire before medicare eligibility.

    IRS has details on 403b. I’m not sure if there is employer matching or if it has been or will be consistent. I know some colleges/universities eliminated matching for financial reasons predating CoVid.

    The defined benefit programs seem straightforward and are documented online. Back of the envelope suggests that a 30yr veteran retiring with a $60K salary who lives 20 more yrs would receive just under 70% of their salary per year during retirement. Spreading this over the period of employment gives a benefit of around 45% of the $60K pay. Accounting for actual lifespan, investment rates, inflation, PSERS death benefits, and career pay increases would affect the calculations, but it seems like a significant benefit.

    I feel a spreadsheet coming on 🙂

  30. Exhausted in DeKalb

    @time for real talk — I listen to our teachers. We’ve had so many great teachers over the past few years and I have always respected the insight and real talk they’ve provided to me. Maybe I’ve been lucky, but I’ve felt like it’s a mutually respectful relationship and that includes some tough conversations (I have a child with ADHD and school is really, really tough for him).

    As a parent, I do have concerns about virtual school. It’s not real school. This is not due to our teachers, who have done everything humanly possible to try to make it work. We’ve tried a learning pod, a facilitator at home with just our kids, and even managing ourselves while working. All three have been epic disasters for various reasons.

    While I’m not part of that vile F2F group, I am hopeful for a return to the classroom. I do not know what to do. Of course I don’t want a single human being getting sick. I don’t put the education of my kids before the health of our teachers. But I ask you — what is the solution here? Should we just give up on the school year? I understand the proposed F2F schedule (masks, all on computers) isn’t ideal either. I’m genuinely curious what teachers recommend. Are y’all going to be able to re-tool the curriculum moving forward to catch these kiddos up? I’m asking as I think that might help parents make a more informed decision.

    Our school foundation gave each teacher a bonus last week because our community collectively sees what an asset our teachers are. I realize not all schools are like this. But when I say there are schools/community that love their teachers, mine is one of them (Ashford Park Elementary in Brookhaven).

  31. Exhausted, too.


    I’m exhausted, too. I used to have a passion for this profession and for the students I teach. That passion is gone. This job is literally just a paycheck for me at this point, and I know I’m not the only teacher who feels this way. It’s nice that your foundation gave teachers bonuses. The rest of us got our pay cut by almost $3,000 this year while continuously being pressured to give and do more. And now we’re supposed to risk our health and safety and keep smiles on our faces so parents like you can throw your kids back in school and pretend like the world is sunshine and rainbows. I’m sure you can keep the teachers at Ashford Park buttered up with nice bonuses and decent Christmas and Teacher Appreciation gifts from your foundation, but those of us who work in the real DeKalb are fed up.

  32. Exhausted in DeKalb

    @Exhausted, too – “parents like me”? Did you read anything I wrote? Good luck in your next profession. I hope it’s the sunshine and rainbows YOU are seeking. Oh – and if you have kids, have fun with virtual school from 8am to 2pm and then your real job from 2pm to midnight. That’s my reality but you don’t find me complaining on my Board member’s blog about it (because my options are the same as yours – deal with it or find something else).

  33. Exhausted, too.


    What do you think teachers with kids have been dealing with this entire time? That active teaching you see is only half of the job. You don’t see the evenings and weekends we work doing things we can’t do during the school day. You don’t see me having to keep my kindergartener locked in the bedroom all day so that he’s not seen or heard on the camera while I’m teaching. You don’t see his assignments piled up that have to get done on the weekends instead of the weekdays because he’s completely over school by the time my workday ends. My own child has been neglected just so I can fulfill the duties of this job that you clearly think amounts to nothing more than babysitting. So, YES, parents like you are the problem. Especially since you seem to think teachers either aren’t parents or that we’ve found some amazing magical system at home to deal with our kids who are also doing virtual learning. And I will continue to “complain” on my board member’s blog because that’s exactly who is supposed to address my concerns as a teacher AND parent in DeKalb County. If you don’t like the responses you see, feel free to go to your little parent group on Facebook and get treated with kid gloves, and continue to pat yourselves on the back for throwing money at your teachers to keep them quiet and docile.

    As for your comment about my “next” career- I’m actively working on that now. Until then, I will continue to get paid by DeKalb County for the job I do. I will also continue to express my displeasure with what’s going on. No teacher should have to leave the profession to get treated with respect.

  34. Exhausted in DeKalb

    @exhausted too – for a teacher, you surely don’t read very well.

    I don’t think teachers are babysitters. Again, reading comprehension.

    And for the record, I too despise that parent group that you refer too – I also wrote that (but reading….).

  35. Exhausted, too.


    “…that parent group that you refer too…” Fist of all, it’s “to”… Secondly, a large part of your post centered around the fact that you can’t figure out who to manage the child you gave birth to because he has ADHD. Your post also showed that you work from home, so not being able to work because you can’t find/afford childcare isn’t an issue. Your post tells me that you’re ready to get him out of the house so that you can go back to normal, regardless of the risk that it poses to teachers, our families, or the surrounding community. So, yes, you do regard teachers as babysitters, and you think it’s okay because you give the teachers at your school a nice gift card every once in a while. Reading comprehension also involves inferencing, sweetheart.

  36. Exhausted in DeKalb

    Alright – I think you’re probably just as frustrated as me but for reasons you can’t possibly comprehend because you’re so convinced that parents don’t respect you and your chosen career turns out to be something you no longer what to do.

    Also, it’s “…can’t figure out how to manage”. Not “who”. Two can play that game, honey.

    Finally- don’t bring my child into it. How dare you. You don’t have a clue. You’re a low person. I’m done.

  37. Perhaps it’s time to begin a new thread…this is even nastier and more petty than usual. Geez…
    Meanwhile, I think the DeKalb reentry plan is fine- teachers first for two weeks, then gradually bring in kids- but the timing is awful. Back this whole thing up for 2-4 weeks so we can see what treasures the holiday left everyone. Happier New Year!

  38. Exhausted, too.


    Since I’m off the clock, I’ll speak as a north DeKalb parent in my final comments to you.

    “(I have a child with ADHD and school is really, really tough for him).” <—That's what you wrote. If you don't want your kids brought up, don't bring them up yourself. You also didn't address the rest of my comment because you know that it's true. You're frustrated because you can't figure out how to deal with your own child. I'm frustrated because I'm being asked to risk the health and safety of MY child because of parents like you. Virtual learning isn't ideal for everyone, but I will do what I need to do to keep my family safe. I can manage my household through effective parenting, and I have no intentions of risking my child's teacher's life because it's "hard" to manage. You can claim to not be a part of that F2F parenting group, but I'm sure your child will be sitting in a classroom in January. And, thanks to parents like you, the quality virtual learning is going to go down the drain because teachers will have to simultaneously manage the online platform and babysit your kid in person. MY child's education will be impacted because you can't manage your child at home. So, we have nowhere near the same level of frustrations or concerns. Anyway, you can stop with the faux concern and platitudes because all of it is falling on deaf ears. Have a great day, sweetheart.

  39. @ Exhausted in DeKalb, you’re real problem is going to begin next school year when you find out how many teachers have left the profession because of lack of respect and complete disregard for our health and safety. This year will be nothing compared to your problem of finding a certified teacher to teach your children next school year. A lot of teachers have had it. That Cobb county superintendent letter SAID IT ALL. So you got your way this year, but you’ve also pushed a lot of highly qualified teachers out the door because we have other options.

  40. DeKalb County is separate, but not equal. When comparing Ashford Park Elementary School to Panola Road Elementary School the contrast is evident. Ashford Park Elementary is located in zip code 30319. Panola Way Elementary is located in zip code 30058.
    The demographics at Ashford Park are; 58% White, 16% Hispanic, 14% Black, and 5% Asian. The demographics at Panola Way are; 92% Black, 6% Hispanic, 2% other, and 0% White.
    According to the Dekalb Health Department the last two weeks rate of growth in zip code 30339 for the Covid-19 virus was 26%. The last two weeks growth for the Covid-19 virus in zip code 30058 was146%. (not a typo) https://www.dekalbhealth.net/covid-19dekalb/

    Most have been made aware that African Americans are much more disproportionately affected by this virus. It should also be noted that African American, Hispanic and Native American children are also more disproportionately affected as well.
    The school system, teachers, and parents in Panola Way would be wise to take into consideration all these factors when deciding if this school and similar like schools are safe for this population of students to return face to face. The schools system, teachers, and parents at Ashford Park or similar like schools may come to a different conclusion regarding the safety of face to face instruction for their population of students. Again, separate, but not equal.

  41. Can you provide a link to the salary schedule? I’ve not seen it, and haven’t been able to find it. My school’s bookkeeper hasn’t seen it either…

  42. Correction; I wrote zip code 30339, it is in fact 30319 as previously noted.

  43. https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/hr/files/2020/12/teacher-salary-schedule-FY21-effective-1.1.2021.pdf

    If the link does not work, visit the county’s website, scroll to careers, select Employee Resources, select 2020-2021 schedule effective January 1st, 2021.

    I hope this helps!

  44. DSW2Contributor

    CBS TV news just showed 200 teachers and a casket protesting out in front of the Palace today (December 29.)

    Also, here is a Channel-2 story from last week – ‘I can’t teach if I’m dead’: Teachers protest DeKalb’s plan to return to classrooms next month

  45. Probably a dumb question, but don’t step increases usually come at the beginning of the academic year? Will this set a new precedent? Will we get another step next January 2022, or will we resume the normal step increase model August/September 2022?

  46. Lock your kindergartener in a bedroom? You’d think a teacher would be more creative than that. **shrugs**

  47. Exhausted, too.


    You’re welcome to advocate for DeKalb to increase teacher pay so that I can afford a new home with an office space. For now, he does his virtual learning in the bedroom so that I can teach in the living room. He attends his classes and then goes on his reading and math programs until lunch. After we have lunch, it’s small groups and a nap. When he wakes up, he’s able to watch PBS Kids until I’m done. He knows that I’m not available until my laptop is closed for the day. He’s adjusted well to his current schedule and he knows how to get into his classes and onto the learning platforms that I have him using. Of course I’d love to be able to step away from my computer and interact with him all day, but that would require me to not do my job. If you have a more creative solution for my 5 yr old’s day while I’m working, I’d love to hear it.

  48. Exhausted, too – I think you are looking for someone to argue with! Geesh.

  49. The Queen Bequeath

    Dekalb schools’ go back regardless of transmission rates or teachers’ potential fatalities.

  50. Percent positive was 18.8 yesterday and 12.8 today. What is up with that? Professionalism means that either the board or superintendent or somebody in Dekalb communicates with us about this. Hiding is not professional at all.

  51. DSW2Contributor

    GA DPH data as of 12/29/2020, 2:50:10 PM:

    Dekalb County, % Positive Last Two Weeks: 10.7%.

    Dekalb County, % PCR Tests Positive: 12.8
    Dekalb County, 7-Day Moving Average: 12.3

    Statewide, % PCR Tests Positive: 18.7
    Statewide, 7-Day Moving Average: 16.3
    I am still waiting for Ms. Watson-Harris to do the right thing, specifically:

    (1) Announce that Phases I, II and III of the return are all delayed. [Today is the 3rd day in a row that Dekalb’s positivity rate is above 10%. Per her December 14 promise to the community, the earliest that Ms. Watson-Harris will allow staff into buildings is January 13, two weeks from tomorrow.]

    (2) Change the January 4 & 5 Asynchronous Learning days back to full virtual instruction days. [There is no reason for those days to be Asynchronous now that staff cannot be in the buildings those days, getting classrooms ready.]

    (3) Cancel the Professional Development Institute (Jan 15) so that Jan 14 & 15 could be used by teachers to return to their buildings and setup their classrooms [in case the positivity rate drops below 10% by January 1.]

    I had thought Mrs. Watson-Harris would have done all three of these on things Monday morning because I believed she was an honest leader who communicated in a timely manner, meant what she said and did what she said she was going to do. Sadly, my faith in her is a little shaken.

    Everyday Ms. Watson-Harris does not do what she promised to do is a day she harms her own professional reputation and lowers her standing in the communities she claims to serve.

  52. We Need Vaccine

    And the so-called metric cheerleader is using was 10.7% today, up .7% in two days. I bet it gets to 12-13% by mid January. Won’t matter to her though.

  53. DSW2Contributor

    Wil Nobles, the new AJC reporter assigned to cover Dekalb County schools, tweeted some pics of today’s protest:

    He also has an article posted on AJC.com titled “DeKalb residents hold a second protest against school reopening plans”:

  54. @ DSW2Contributor, oh I see, I was looking at Dekalb’s daily rate. I went back and reread her newsletter. She’s using the 14 day average and your numbers are correct. Thank you and yes, she should to go ahead and call it. She said 10 percent and obviously the numbers are just going up and will be higher at the next 14 day release.

  55. @ DSW2Contributor,

    Super Watson-Harris is a dishonest leader who communicates in an untimely manner, does not mean what she says, and does not do what she says she is going to do.

    At that emergency-called principals’ meeting held days before schools let out for winter break, numerous principals queried Stacey Stepney about the “metric” being used to determine reentry of staff into the schools. Finally, Stepney responded something along these lines: “Don’t you get it. The decision has been made to reopen, and we are reopening.” Period! Metrics be damned!

    As has been stated by several on this blog, the main reason for reopening is all about the greenbacks, baby.

    DeKalb is hemorrhaging students to other counties, to private schools, to homeschooling, to the streets. With each student lost from the rolls, dollars go with them, dollars that the higher-ups could use to paint their offices orange, get new furniture, enjoy 90-minute lunches, take their lovers to the Bahamas, promote worthless sororal/fraternal sisters and brothers to important positions where they do nothing but wreak havoc and collect inflated salaries (HR comes to mind), fund and staff questionable parent centers with parent coordinators who some earn more than teachers with PHDs/EDDs and 20+ years of service, maintain a professional learning center filled with overweight adults who could not make it in the classrooms, pay QUENTIN FRETWELL of all people to be a COVID pandemic specialist and make recommendations as to what the school system should do (THAT is MOST laughable and sad), create curriculum positions for each subject area with 3 coordinators and 3 “helpers,” etc.

    An “honest leader who communicated in a timely manner, meant what she said and did what she said she was going to do”? You have GOT to be kidding me.

  56. Megan Davidson

    @ Humpty Dance
    @ DSW2Contributor
    I remember Bahama Betty!
    Refresh my memory…which Super was that?
    Is she still around?

  57. DSW2Contributor

    From the Wall Street Journal:
    First Case of New Fast-Spreading Coronavirus Strain in U.S. Reported in Colorado
    By Lukas I. Alpert

    Colorado reported the first case in the U.S. of a fast-spreading variant of Covid-19 that was first detected in the United Kingdom and led to a widespread lockdown and travel restrictions there.

    Health officials said the case was confirmed by a state lab and found in a man in his 20s in Elbert County who had no history of travel. The man had been placed into isolation and details of his case reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    “We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels,” said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.

  58. @ DSW2Contributor, sounds like a great time to open the schools back up for f2f instruction!

  59. By all reports it seems the new variant is more transmissible by all, Particularly CHILDREN.

    Push back 2-4 weeks and see where we stand then. We all want to be f2f, but now is not the time.

  60. I’m curious as to why the teachers posting here that are against returning to school haven’t been vocal about DCSD getting the school building fixed and getting whatever support is needed so they could return to school ASAP? Why were they not out protesting about school being closed when virtually all other school districts were back in school? Why didn’t they insist on teaching 5 days a week to try to limit how far behind the students are falling? Why haven’t they been raising the alarm about the harm to kids not being in school?

    If that had been happening these past 10 months I think things would be very different. I’m sure the majority of the residents/parents would be behind you, and the school board could be holding the DCSD accountable to get you what you need. You would be considered real hero’s.

  61. @Curious: Where are teachers supposed to find the time to protest the deteriorating buildings, inadequate ventilation, lack of supplies, etc., which by the way are nothing new. It has just become dangerous under these circumstances. The protests this week and last week were done during unpaid vacation. I think many teachers will agree with me that we are actually working more than we do when we are in the classroom. Do you think that we were provided virtual lesson plans that were ready made and could be implemented on the spot? No, we are doing them from scratch and it is very time consuming. And for the Wednesdays where people think we are out getting our nails done, we are grading papers, doing the virtual lesson plans for the following week, calling parents and students, attending meetings, tutoring one on one or in small groups, etc. Why have parents who are on this blog and heard us complain about the conditions SINCE AUGUST not out there protesting so that they will do something about it so that their students and the staff will be safe? Why is it that the public expects teachers to do everything, to be the scapegoat for all problems? Where is the responsibility of DCSD to do their job to provide a safe environment for everyone, especially during a pandemic. We are not worried only about ourselves. We are worried about the students & their families as well. Where is the responsibility of the community? Why are they not out there protesting for everyone? Why is the community not demanding concrete things from DCSD, and just accepting & believing that they have a good & safe plan for re-entry when they do not?

  62. I'm just saying.

    3626 American lives were lost to Covid-19 yesterday. I’m just saying.

  63. “The Board of Education adopted the resolution for Black Lives Matter At DeKalb Schools Week of Action 2020 on July 13, 2020. The goal of this week is to spark on ongoing movement of critical reflection and honest conversation in school communities for people of all ages to engage with issues of racial justice.” DCSD

    For one week Black lives mattered, after that one week no lives matter, not black lives, not brown lives, nor white lives. What matters is getting that Quality Basic Education (QBE) numbers up. The school systems is in jeopardy of potentially loosing millions of dollars from the state if student enrollment numbers are not increased. Ms. Harris etc., are willing to sacrifice a few teachers and students in order to meet the goal of increased student enrollment. It’s money over lives. Harsh, but true!

  64. Reason for Re-Opening is Obvious

    County is worried about losing funds. Teachers’ safety is a far second reason. Pitiable reason to risk lives.

  65. I am really sickened. I’m really saddened. I’m feeling beyond betrayed. As a Dekalb county teacher of 18 almost 19 years and a product of DeKalb County School Systems myself… I’m stunned and hurt and angry at the betrayal that my superintendent and school board has displayed to me. Although I can only speak for myself, my peers are also hurt and enraged by this twist of the knife.

    There’s no data supporting this move, yet all my meetings are data driven. My lesson plans are data driven. My lessons are data driven. My lessons are data driven. My collab meetings are data driven… yet, we are willfully choosing to ignore the data and the science that may keep thousands of employees, students, staff, AND THEIR FAMILY members safe because….???? I honestly missed the rationale although I have listened and I have read EVERYTHING…

    How will I teach anxiously and from such a depressed state!? I’m concerned for my mom and stepdad both with underlying conditions with whom I shop for, commune with, pick up meds for, etc. I’m concerned for my husband and… for myself. I too have underlying health conditions. Why don’t OUR LIVES matter?

  66. Vanessa Thompson

    Who are the members of the Covid Task Force?

  67. Notice how everyone in charge of Dekalb county are cutting and running. Radio silence from everyone, cowards.

  68. That’s fine, you cowards hide away and the brave teachers risking our lives are the ones showing up everyday. People in charge, all administration will forever be remembered as cowards as long as I live. School board included! You are putting the women and children at risk for death while you hide in your homes -COWARDS!

  69. 2+ 2 always makes 5

    The “we opened after other counties” argument ignores the science and variables of current conditions that are actually causing some places that have opened to return to virtual learning. (Cobb, Forsyth)

  70. Medical Advisory Committee
    I think that school based employees should be part of the Medical Advisory Committee. There should be teachers from high, middle and elementary school. These people could share the concerns and questions of their fellow teachers. I also think that it would be helpful to have bus drivers as part of the committee. Being able to transport students safely is essential. Plant engineers and custodians should also be a part of the committee, since they will be responsible for keeping the schools clean and the heat and air running . Even though these people are not school based, I think that the people handling FMLA should be on the committee. They could share the kinds of leave request that they are seeing.

  71. I have read many of these messages about returning to school. I know from a parent perspective, it may be hard to understand what goes on in a school each day. Here is a breakdown of a normal Kindergarten day:

    Students enter in the morning and go straight to their classroom. They will then stay at their seats until we take our first restroom break. This will be about an hour into the day. After the restroom the students will go back to their seats and complete the online activities that I have assigned for the day. I will be continuing to post all assignments online. This is so the students and I do not have to touch the same papers/supplies. They will continue work for about another hour and a half. (So far that is 2.5 hours at their seats in front of their device.) Next, lunch will be brought to our classroom where students will take off their masks in our tiny room to all eat for about 30 minutes. This is the same classroom that we are sitting in all day. So after about 30 minutes with masks off they will then put their masks back on to have a 15 minute recess. (This is mostly inside due to cold temps and rainy days.) During recess they will not be allowed to get close to each other or play with each other. This time will most likely be spent walking around the filed. Playground use will not be allowed. After recess the students will have another restroom break. (Just a heads up… It will be impossible to clean the restrooms after each student) Next, the students will return to the classroom where they will spend the last hours of the day in their seats. They will not be allowed to walk around the room or talk to their friends. When it is time to be dismissed for the day , the students will remain in their seats until their bus/car is called. This is a total of at least 6 hours in their seats. No interaction with friends. Very little interaction with their teachers. NO movement for most of the day. Now lets talk about space in the room. I have 5 tables in my room and 13 students wanting to return f2f. There is no way that I can socially distance my students. It is impossible in my classroom and most of the classrooms in the county. I absolutely LOVE each and everyone of my students and their families but I will not risk my family’s life and well being even if that means social distancing myself from my students.

    I am a teacher and a parent for Dekalb County. I can tell you right now that there is no way I am going to send my child back to school right now. I know what the school is able to do as far as social distancing and cleaning. It is not safe and nothing they have shown me in the past, or with their plan, has shown me they can keep our children safe.

    People will listen to their doctors about how to keep their children safe but not the teachers that have been in the classroom for 15+ years.

    Just a little side note about Virtual Learning: The students are working with computers better than they ever have. The parents are so involved in the students learning that they are truly thriving. Virtual Learning has amazing possibilities.

  72. Baby, it's CoVid Outside!

    Hi all, I was watching the news this morning and just saw the following:

    The first report was about the second week of parent and teacher protests at the DCSD central office. There were over 300 protesting yesterday. Deborah Jones, president from ODE (Organization of DeKalb Educators), spoke and said that the DCSD has been silent since its rushed decision the few days before the break. Perfect timing, by the way. All letters, calls, texts and emails to the Superintendent and the Board have been ignored and left unanswered. There are petitions with thousands and thousands of signatures against the re-opening of schools. The news organizations have all reached out to the district, but again crickets, no comment. This is not acceptable!!

    Then, the following news stories were about rising cases around the metro area & blood/plasma shortages. Metro Atlanta hospitals have seen a 339% increase in cases the last few weeks and the percentage is rising every day. They’re asking everyone to donate blood/plasma if they’ve had a positive CoVid test or antibodies test within the last 2 weeks. There is a waiting list for plasma. Then, finally, Gov. Brian Kemp came on and said they’re re-opening the World Congress Center tomorrow (New Year’s Eve) to serve as an overflow hospital. Hospitals are full as cases keep rising around our state. And more cases are expected after this holiday break. Also, there is a new CoVid strain that’s 70% more contagious and spreading around the world at an astronomical rate.

    But yet, here we are, planning to send teachers and students back to school. Seriously, where is the common sense? How is this a good plan? What else can teachers do? Quit? Die? Sacrifice a friend or family member to die? Teachers can’t teach from the grave. Ask the family of the teacher who died on Christmas day in Cobb County. Furthermore, what is the life of one student or staff member worth to you? This virus is real and so are the fears of going back to school.

    Parents/students have a choice to return to school, teachers don’t unless they want to quit. And trust me, some already have. I don’t know one teacher who’s looking forward to going back to school right now. Why can’t the DCSD wait until teachers are vaccinated? Why the rush? Please continue virtual learning until this is under control. We’ve all made it this far. Let’s not add to the growing number of cases in this county or state. Make the right decision for everyone’s safety!

  73. If you’ve had to complain about your child’s school not having working HVAC, or the fire Marshall has been called because part of the school is over capacity… maybe don’t push for people to be in that building during a pandemic.

  74. Aesop’s Fables on the Frontline

    Anybody else notice and perhaps know why the sub system Frontline formerly Aesop isn’t taking absences til February?
    Seems like a problematic part of a potential reopening plan to not even have an operative system of potential subs in place to replace teachers that are absent…

    Any trouble shooters on this or just a part of the perfect storm here with the grand reopening?

  75. @Aesops: I have heard, though it is not confirmed, that the county is not really looking to have subs right now because they are not trained and/or do not have access to the virtual platforms, and if they sub they will not be able to do anything except blatantly babysit kids on Chromebooks. Plus, I doubt they will have enough subs anyway. Most DCSD subs I know have absolutely no intention of returning to the schools during a pandemic. At 90 bucks a day there are safer places to work right now.

  76. They are going to force non teachers (paras, counselors, social workers, librarians, etc) to act as subs. There won’t be true subs.

  77. Safety concerns


    From the article:

    ● We found that case rates for school districts are often much higher than case rates in the community. Meanwhile, within our data, a recent review of school district case rates based on total enrollment showed that less than 3% of all districts reporting two or more cases met a lowest-risk, case-rate threshold advised by the CDC for communities.

    ● We also have seen that the percentage of students enrolled for in-person classes directly impacts the case rate in school districts. A recent study based on our data found school districts can reduce COVID-19 case rates by about 40% by reducing the in-person class size by 50%.

    ● Based on data from Florida, we know that school districts without mask mandates have an average case rate (12.1 per 1,000) nearly twice as high as those with mask mandates (6.9 per 1,000).

    If we are going to have students when cases are so high in the community, we need to know what steps are being taken to enforce masks in the building.

  78. Exhausted, too.

    Safety Concerns:

    Thanks for sharing. That article says what teachers have been saying this entire time. For whatever reason, people look at our multiple degrees and years of work experience and assume that we have the knowledge of a kindergartener. It shouldn’t take a USA News article for people to acknowledge that what we’ve been saying for a year is correct. This disrespect is exactly why teachers are leaving this profession in droves.

    This part of the article stood out to me the most, especially since it’s the privileged parents with resources who are the ones pushing for schools to open:

    “Limiting the in-person attendance of students who are more capable of online learning can facilitate this, just like healthy people practicing social distancing facilitates the protection of high-risk groups.”

    These parents are more than capable of facilitating virtual learning from home to reduce the number of students in the classroom, but they simply do not want to do that. If students with severe and profound disabilities were the only ones allowed in the buildings, I don’t think a single teacher would have an issue with that happening. But, it’s not those students. It’s the children of people who refuse to wear masks, who refuse to limit social interactions, and who are just plain tired of dealing with their own (fully capable) children who are pushing for this reopening.

    Another part of the article that stood out:

    “Those recommendations could be implemented in places where community case rates fall into the CDC’s “lowest-risk” category. Many places don’t fall into that category at the moment, and many more won’t in the next two months. The data shows that, until community case rates fall, schools should limit in-person classes – for the benefit of everyone.”

    So, why is Watson-Harris disregarding all of the data and forcing buildings to reopen? Again, pressure from the privileged parents. In this county, money talks. The safety of ALL students, ALL staff, and ALL of the DeKalb community isn’t even on the radar.

  79. Vanessa Thompson

    With the vaccine being rolled out to teachers in February, what is the rush?
    Safety open the end of March. This would allow for two doses and immunity

  80. Did the Board not have to approve the reopening plan? What was that vote? Is this truly just the Superintendent’s call?

  81. Vanessa Thompson

    @ Dan | December 30, 2020 at 10:31 AM |
    DCSD Covid-19 Medical Advisory Committee

    Thank you for the link.
    Next question, who in this group works daily with children in the school house?

  82. Exhausted, too : what makes you think parents are more than capable? If your experience and degree(s) are so valuable (and I believe they are), how do you make the assumption that someone without these credentials can simply step in? I’ll answer my own question – they can’t.

    Watching a 15-minute video and getting a single lesson per subject per week does not provide adequate instruction on concepts that are difficult to grasp. When the kids have questions (all day long), parents are supposed to step in and teach things without any training, education, or experience. I can tell you that I taught my kid to carry the one because I couldn’t figure out regrouping even after watching videos. I also had a kid in tears when I wasn’t adequately explaining why some E’s are silent and some aren’t.

    But – give me a crisis and 5 minutes to write a statement that you’ll see all over the news within the hour and it’s no sweat. We have different skills. Teachers are invaluable.

    So, please, stop with the maddening “parents can do it but don’t want to”. Many of us have tried everything we can think of but are still not teachers. Does this mean I think school should open right now? No.

  83. @ DeKalbMess, Did you know that teachers were never taught the “new way” either, aka common core? We were told “good luck!” when the standards changed. Welcome to our world! Now, can you admit the school system is a complete mess and teachers have tried to make the best of it, but many, many of us have had it and are walking away. Can you seeeee that now?? Your few months in our shoes, yeah, insane isn’t it?

  84. Fearless Leader

    Positivity rate is 11.1% today. That’s with your arcane metric. Good call on reopening school during worst phase of the pandemic…

  85. Great editorial that explains the true state of DeKalb buildings:


  86. Exhausted, too.


    “Teachers are invaluable, but let’s risk their lives so we can get some peace from our kids during the day.” Please stop. You gave birth to your kids but you can’t figure out how to keep them occupied and engaged at your own house? That’s weird. I also don’t know what school your child attends that is only providing a 15 minute lesson one day per week because that’s not even the approved DeKalb County virtual schedule. Either you’re lying, or your entire school is out of compliance. My kindergartener is in virtual learning with his teachers and classmates all morning. Then, he has small groups after lunch. I can see your concerns about answering high school and (maybe) even middle school questions, but if you can’t figure out how to answer questions about basic elementary skills, then I don’t know what to tell you. I’m sure that you can reach out to the teacher for help sincerely they’re (according to you) only working 15 minutes per day. Also, are you telling me that your kids never ask you questions about homework or projects? Or, is that something you expect someone else to do for you as well?

  87. I didn’t say I wanted you or anyone to risk their lives. I said I did not think schools should open.

    But sure, insult me and insinuate I’m lying because you’re so offended that I’ve declared teachers to be invaluable, and their experience/skill set as not easily duplicated.


  88. Yes: yes, I can see the school system is a mess even more than I did before. Someone told me several months ago that they believed the pandemic would likely change public education forever and I still don’t know if they meant for the better or for the worse. Obviously, something has to give.

    I think it’s crazy that teachers are expected to do all that they do and it’s not surprising that so many are developing an exit strategy.

    But why regrouping?!? Another thread perhaps.

  89. Exhausted, too.


    You’re right. My statement to you was misplaced, and so were my frustrations. I’m actually livid with the county for their lack of clear communication, Watson-Harris for lying, and other parents on this blog who’ve consistently talked down to teachers and pretty much told us to stay in our place. You’re not one of those parents. My apologies, and thanks for your support. Also, if your child is only getting 15 minutes of instruction per day, that is not the approved schedule and I think those concerns should be voiced.

  90. Soooo… the plan is to just “show up” Monday and go from there? Just show up to a building that you haven’t taught in for almost a year and see what happens (and let’s not forget new teachers who have NEVER been in their buildings). No communication whatsoever. No wonder she was the second choice. This is stupidity in its highest form and my anxiety level is off the chart right now.

  91. I’ve taught for…a while. Thinking about waiting until Jan. 14-15 to enter the building. Seems practical, logical, and appropriate if the numbers come down. What’s the rush? What consequences await?

  92. @ Confused,

    She was the second PUBLIC choice, but the fourth or fifth PRIVATE one. I heard that several “candidates” chose to bypass the opportunity to be tarnished by association with this POS (acronym used to protect the sensitive North DeKalb types from semantic reality) school system.

  93. Hello Jester. What happens if you are a special education teacher and all of your students are remaining virtual? Will the teacher still need to return to the building to teach?

    Also, are teachers being released at 2pm until second semester begins?

  94. Shaking my Head

    I have been closely monitoring the news this Christmas Break and keep shaking my head. I’ve been working in this district for 30 plus years and I am becoming more and more disappointed with the leadership. When I was hired, DeKalb was the district where EVERYONE wanted to work. They had high standards for teachers , administrators and far fewer district level people with high salaries yet very EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP! I also live in DeKalb and I keep thinking that they are wasting my tax paying dollars with poor leadership. Who would think that it is a wise decision for staff members and/or students to return to school after many of them have been traveling during the Christmas break along with their families at at time when the numbers are going up, a new strain is now present and spreading, teachers on the front line are dying and most districts are disclosing their true numbers? How many of our parents are going to be truthful about their children presenting symptoms when they want them out of the house? How many parents are going disclose that they tested positive for the virus yet continue sending their children to school? How many parents are going to ignore the phone call when we call them to pick up their sick child who is presenting symptoms? What substitute is going to come into a building and attempt to teach concurrently when they may not be technology savvy for a lower per hour rate than other districts? It is much harder to teach online but the teachers have been doing an outstanding job. It would have made better sense for staff to return on January 19 so that there would be at least 10 days for staff and their families to quarantine after the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays and the students could return on February 1. We are still seeing an uptick from the Thanksgiving break and now we will begin seeing an uptick from the Christmas break yet we are returning to buildings? What sense does that make? We all would like to get back to work in the buildings but safely. I’m sure if we had responsible leadership like back in my early years in DeKalb, this irresponsible decision would not have even been a thought. In the meantime, I’ll just keep shaking my head.

  95. @Shakingmmyhead: Totally agree with you. I have also been in DeKalb for a long time, and I am also a parent and a tax payer. The DeKalb we knew is long gone, and I am pretty sure it will never come back. I have been saddened as an employee, a parent, and a resident, to see the permanent decline of what was once a good school system. However, when the goal is to keep people in redundant jobs at a top heavy bureaucracy and waste money on senseless things that do not improve education, or actually support those doing all of the hard work in the school buildings, then this is the result. It also means that you do not attract good employees and/or leaders, and the ones with any sense leave and go on to other things. Sadly this is the same story in school systems across the country. We do not value education in this country as a public service to all, and we are going to pay the price for it if something is not done. If the wealthy and privileged are the only ones afforded a decent education, then society as a whole is going to suffer for it.

  96. Is the medical advisory committee subject to open records requests? How do we find out what advice they gave to the Superintendent? Did they ever take any votes? Have any of the members been asked if they support the Superintendent’s plan to reopen?

  97. Ben, just file an Open Records Request for meeting agendas and/or minutes.


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