FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Fulton County Schools will require parents to decide on their child’s learning format for next semester and commit to either remote or in-person learning for at least nine weeks.

The system re-opened schools in mid-October with approximately 60 percent of students choosing to return to face-to-face learning. Since then, about 10 percent of those students have returned to remote learning as COVID cases increase across the county.

schoolgirl studying math during online lesson at home, self-isolation

The constant changes in numbers have created scheduling and logistical challenges for staff already dealing with widespread disruptions to education over the past several months.

“[Therefore] parents are being asked through a commitment survey to decide which model they want for their children,” Superintendent Mike Looney said. “Parents must declare their decision by Dec. 11 or their child’s placement will default to the learning environment they were in as of December 14.”

He said the nine-week commitment will allow schools and teachers to allocate resources and create plans most effectively.

Chief Academic Officer Cliff Jones said that since October, parents have been allowed to go “back and forth” on their child’s learning format based on changing situations.

“But at this point we need [parents] to commit to nine weeks,” Jones said. “Before we leave for winter break, we will need to create the best schedule for students and staff.”

He said the process may result in students not having the same teachers next semester as they have this semester, depending on the numbers. Teachers will also continue teaching some students in the classroom and others attending via remote connections.

“[We understand] is it not easy to teach simultaneously and we want to commend our staff for the commitment to doing the ‘not easy’ thing for our students,” Jones said.

He said academic officers across the nation are all struggling with the issues of teaching kids in person and remotely at the same time, and learning to adapt along the way.

“We are all trying to solve the same problems and working together to find the best solution,” Jones said. “But it is going well [in Fulton Schools] and we are learning how to take advantage of online learning.”

Parents who are curious about how teachers work with students both in the classroom and remote learning can view videos created by Fulton Schools. The videos demonstrate how the model works and show the way teachers are adapting to the challenges. The videos are available at www.fultonschools.org.

Candy Waylock is an award winning education reporter who has covered all things education for Appen Media over the past 20 years. She is an Alpharetta resident.

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