Cobb schools set to begin new year with online classes

The Cobb County School District will begin the 2020-21 school with remote learning for its 113,000 students.

Credit: Pixabay

Credit: Pixabay

Students in Georgia’s second-largest school district will begin a new year Monday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cobb County School District is starting the 2020-21 school year with virtual learning for its 113,000 students.

The district employs more than 18,000 employees, including over 5,900 teachers, according to its website. Cobb schools originally planned to offer both in-person and virtual learning options for students returning to school. However, the district opted to take the remote learning route after seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Cobb’s Teaching and Learning System is the main hub where students will access their classrooms lessons. The district said the platform is “a game-changer in helping the best teachers in the nation serve our students.”

“While we do not anticipate any issues with the technology, we are prepared for the questions that will come any time 113,000+ people begin utilizing a new tool,” the district said in a statement.

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Cobb also has a CTLS Parent platform where parents can stay abreast of their child’s education. Students will be able to access additional tools under the CTLS Learn system.

Cobb students won’t go hungry while getting their lessons from home. Students have the opportunity to receive school meals five days a week while schools are closed to in-person classes. Most schools in the district will schedule meal pickups 4-6 p.m. Mondays. Each meal kit will include five breakfasts and lunches and instructions on how they can be reheated at home.

Families who want to receive meals have to complete the online pre-order process, which begins on Tuesdays and runs through noon Thursdays. That process can be done on the district’s MyPaymentPlus website. Parents who have not created a MyPaymentPlus account need to create one before they can receive the meals.

The school district, which said it has about 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases, does have a plan to eventually transition back to the classroom. Cobb’s reopening approach for students and teachers would be done in three phases, and the system said it would only be implemented when public health data and guidance indicates its safe to do so.

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Under phase one, kindergarten through fifth-grade students and some students with special needs would return to the classroom. Phase two would allow middle school students to return and high school students would come back under the third phase. Parents would be allowed to continue with remote learning.

The plan has been criticized by several dozen Cobb parents who have clamored for the district to offer an in-person option. Those parents, which are circulating a petition calling on the school board to reinstate the in-person classroom option, have held protests to voice their demands.

School Board member Charisse Davis said she wants the public to understand that while it may be frustrating for some parents to not have the in-person classroom option for their students, the district will do what it can to make the remote learning process run as smoothly as possible.

“I want to make sure that we are all giving each other and our teachers some grace during this time,” she said. “This is going to take a (higher) level of patience for all of us.”

Board member David Chastain added the district is closely watching and learning from the experiences of school systems in neighboring systems. Any decisions made by the district about going the virtual route was done with the health and safety of students and teachers in mind, Chastain said.

“They’ve made the best decision they can, given the circumstances and I, as a board member, trust them,” he said.

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