Clayton Schools leader warns virtual-only learning could be extended

Clayton County Schools Superintendent Morcease Beasley earlier this week warned residents that flu season could exacerbate COVID-19 and impact second semester in-person instruction options. (Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Clayton County Schools Superintendent Morcease Beasley earlier this week warned residents that flu season could exacerbate COVID-19 and impact second semester in-person instruction options. (Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Clayton County Schools Superintendent Morcease Beasley is warning parents in the south metro Atlanta district that all-virtual learning could continue into the winter months.

During a district update earlier this week, Beasley said Clayton Schools leaders will decide in January whether county COVID-19 rates have fallen enough to allow the system to offer in-person classes in the second semester.

But, he said, be aware that that assessment will be taking place during flu season.

“I’m hopeful that things could look better in January,” Beasley said during a YouTube Live presentation Monday. “However, we are all mindful that January is in the middle of winter. Therefore, we know that we’ll not only be dealing with the normal flu season, but possibly a continued surge that we’re experiencing with the virus today.”

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Clayton County is only one of a few districts in metro Atlanta that have not offered face-to-face instruction so far this academic year because of pandemic concerns.

Atlanta Public Schools officials have said they will not offer in-person classes this semester and DeKalb County Schools is waiting for COVID-19 infection rates to drop below 100 cases per 100,000 people for 14 consecutive days. DeKalb’s most recent rates were more than 200 cases per 100,000 people.

Clayton decided late last month to remain all-virtual for the remainder of the first semester because infection county rates failed to fall below 100 cases per 100,000 people.

“We are looking for three periods of two-weeks of which the data is decreasing," Beasley said. “We have not had that. As a matter of fact, the data is now surging upward in the wrong direction.”

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