COVID-19 ‘surge’ forces all Fulton Schools classes online next week

(File photo)
(File photo)

Fulton County Schools will hold all classes online the week of Jan. 11 due to a “post-holiday surge of positive cases” of COVID-19, the district announced at 2 p.m. Friday.

The announcement said officials remain “committed to offering face-to-face instruction for families who have selected this option” but recent developments have made that unsafe.

District leaders kept a close eye on case numbers following winter break, and their fears came true.

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The surge of cases is “impacting our ability to sufficiently operate schools; local hospitals report they are near or at capacity, and new information has been shared about vaccination availability to school personnel. These developments have all been part of the decision-making process leading to this delay,” the district wrote.

Georgia’s healthcare system is being stressed by the rollout of the vaccine. Like everyone else over that age, district employees older than 65 will be able to get a vaccine. But the rest? Fulton Schools said officials don’t know when all teachers will get the vaccine but the district assures it is pushing to get them as soon as possible.

Fulton on March 13 became the first school district in metro Atlanta to stop live instruction as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19. The district started bringing students back from digital learning with guidance from health officials on Sept. 8.

But days before Fulton brought students back into classrooms, a group of teachers protested the district’s plan — saying it put students and staff in danger.

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The 95,000-student district welcomed all willing children back into classrooms on Oct. 14, with the rest learning online. It started at a roughly 50-50 split. There have been intermittent closures but instruction hasn’t entirely stopped districtwide due to COVID-19 since re-opening.

Fulton County commissioners this week encouraged public health officials to teachers vaccinated quickly for safety, but elected officials are also mindful of how the lack of need for childcare could help the economy.

“We recognize that our families have experienced significant changes during this pandemic and are ready for a return to normalcy,” the district wrote. “Fulton County Schools shares this desire and remains committed to providing a safe environment for our students to learn and our teachers and staff to work.”

For those wanting to learn in person, the plan is to return to classrooms on Jan. 19 after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

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