Unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions as the Fulton County Board of Education held its first ever virtual meeting March 19.
The board has not met in person since Feb. 20 and likely will not assemble in person until the “all clear” signal is given by public health officials.
A spokesman for Fulton Schools said the board will continue to heed the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which currently recommends groups greater than 10 not gather together.
In addition to routine business regarding contracts and budgetary issues, the board discussed actions related to the closure of all school buildings until further notice. Currently the district’s 94,000 students are continuing learning mainly online.
Remote Learning Update
Fulton County was the first school system in the state to report staff members who tested positive for coronavirus, and it was among the first districts to close all schools and move to remote learning.
The move to online learning was facilitated by Fulton’s personal device process which assigns a device, such as a Chromebook, Surface or IPad, to students in grades 6-12, for use in and out of school.
“Many Fulton students whose schools began device deployment earlier this year are familiar with and using their devices to successfully complete and submit schoolwork,” School Superintendent Mike Looney said.
He said that while the students may need additional support from their teachers or technology support while completing assignments from home, the process is working.
For students in the younger grades or for those with no access to computers, the district purchased and quickly distributed nearly 3,300 devices to fill the gap.
“We appreciate the patience of our parents and staff as we continue this new phase of device deployment,” Looney said. “Just as students are learning digitally, we are also learning our way through this new process.”
Although the district has had “Digital Learning Days” on occasion to test the plan, it has never implemented remote learning to this scale.
“We are on our way, together, and we will arrive at a good place with our remote learning platform,” Looney promised.
Food Distribution Sites
Fulton Schools is relying on the USDA’s “Seamless Summer Option” to serve meals to students during the school closure. The program is used to feed students during the summer and has expanded to cover the gap created with the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week the district offered meals at six sites across the district, delivering more than 15,000 meals to children.
Beginning this week, the meal distribution will be expanded to 21 sites, including five locations in North Fulton. Distributions will occur from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 23, March 25 and March 27.
“This moves us from a centralized hub model to a more decentralized model and provides increased access to meals while also meeting public health guidance related to social distancing,” Looney said.
North Fulton sites include Esther Jackson, Mimosa and Vickery Mill elementary schools in Roswell; Haynes Bridge Middle in Alpharetta; and Holcomb Bridge Middle in Roswell.
Meals are available to all children 18 and younger, and the child must be present at pickup.