Atlanta high school shifts to virtual learning after fire

Frederick Douglass High School shifted to online learning for three days after a fire damaged the building. (Vanessa McCray/AJC file photo)

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Frederick Douglass High School shifted to online learning for three days after a fire damaged the building. (Vanessa McCray/AJC file photo)

Students at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta are learning online for a few days after a fire in a boys’ bathroom damaged the building.

Atlanta Fire Department spokeswoman Alyssa Richardson said crews responded to the campus on Hamilton E. Holmes Drive just before noon Thursday. The school, which enrolls more than 1,100 students, was evacuated before fire crews arrived.

The fire was located in a third-floor boys’ restroom, she said. Thick smoke also filled a hallway. She described the fire as small and said it was extinguished when the sprinkler system activated.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to Richardson and an Atlanta Public Schools spokesman.

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The school shifted to virtual learning Friday, which will continue Monday and Tuesday. Students will return to in-person learning Wednesday, according to APS.

Most school staff, including teachers, will work remotely Friday and return to campus Monday. Those who work on the school’s operations and maintenance teams will be on-site to help with cleanup.

Families can pick up breakfast and lunch meals from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Friday, Monday and Tuesday.

While the school did not release details about the fire, interim Principal Forrestella Taylor wrote about the incident in a letter to families that is posted on the school’s website.

She urged parents to use the next few days to talk to their children “about making better choices in terms of conflict resolution, as well as the consequences they could face for their actions.”

She wrote: “Our school and the district have programs and resources available to any student or family who needs assistance in this area. Please contact the school for guidance, and if you have any questions or concerns about what took place today, or about our plans for the next few days, feel free to contact my office.”

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