Cobb schools announce plan to return to in-person classes

The Cobb County School District has released a phased approach to restart in-person classes during the 2020-21 school year.
The Cobb County School District has released a phased approach to restart in-person classes during the 2020-21 school year.

Credit: Pixabay

Credit: Pixabay

Two weeks before it begins the new school year with virtual learning, the Cobb County School District is already working on a plan to get students back in the classroom.

The district on Tuesday released a phased approach for students and teachers to return to the classroom after the 2020-21 school year begins Aug. 17. Cobb County Schools is the second largest district in Georgia with about 113,000 students. Cobb’s announcement comes hours after Gwinnett County Schools, the state’s largest district, unveiled a plan that would begin phasing in face-to-face learning later this month.

Cobb County schools does not have a start date for the first phase because it will be ”determined by analyzing public health data” related to Cobb County, including community spread of COVID-19, contact tracing and efficient COVID-19 test timelines, according to the plan posted on the system’s website.

Under phase one, kindergarten through fifth-grade students will return to the classroom, and after-school programs at schools will begin for those students. The district added that its kindergarten through 12th grade “low incidence” special education classes will also have an in-person option in this phase.

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Under phase two, which will begin two weeks after phase one starts, middle school students will go back to class. High school students’ return to in-person instruction will mark phase three, which will start two weeks after phase two is implemented.

Before each phase is carried out, the district will allow parents to choose between in-person classes or remote learning for their children.

Cobb’s announcement comes three days after hundreds of parents, students and community members held a rally demanding Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and the school board allow parents to choose in-person classes for their children when the new year begins Aug. 17.

Cobb County originally planned to offer both in-person and remote learning for its students, but chose the virtual option due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.

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“We continue to be committed to re-entering face-to-face classrooms when public health conditions in Cobb County allow,” the school district said Tuesday. “Knowing COVID-19 has impacted each student, family, and staff member differently, we also look forward to offering parents the ability to choose the classroom setting which is best for their family.”

In a virtual town hall held last week, Dr. Janet Memark, district health director for Cobb & Douglas Public Health Department, said Cobb County is experiencing high transmission rates. As of Tuesday, Cobb reported 361 cases per 100,000 people within the last two weeks. Anything greater than 100 is considered a substantial spread, Memark said.

As of late Tuesday, Cobb had 11,981 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to health department numbers. Deaths have reached 303 in Cobb and total hospitalizations in the county stand at 1,320.

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