DeKalb parents to receive schools update at Monday’s virtual town hall

Families in the DeKalb County School District will receive an update Monday during a virtual town hall on the district’s instruction plan for students. Currently, district officials say buildings will reopen only when countywide coronavirus infections . drop below 100 cases per 100,000 people for 14 straight days. DeKalb and Clayton County Schools are the only school districts statewide that have neither set a 2021 reopening date nor provided . their parents an in-person learning option this school year. Some parents call DeKalb’s metric “unattainable” or “antiquated”. We are at a space where we all have to make or continue to make tough decisions, Cheryl Watson-Harris, DeKalb superintendent . Parents can follow the school district’s Facebook page at 6 p.m. to join the virtual town hall

Families in the DeKalb County School District will receive an update Monday during a virtual town hall on the district’s instruction plan for students.

Some parents want schools to reopen for face-to-face learning months after the district transitioned to an online-only model in August. DeKalb superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris told the school board last week that many parents are concerned that the metric being used to determine when to reopen classrooms for in-person learning is too restrictive.

Currently, district officials say buildings will reopen only when countywide coronavirus infections drop below 100 cases per 100,000 people for 14 straight days. DeKalb had 400 cases per 100,000 people in two consecutive weeks, Georgia Department of Health officials said on Dec. 10.

“No matter how you slice it, no matter what metrics you use, we’re still in the high community spread category,” Watson-Harris said.

DeKalb and Clayton County Schools are the only school districts statewide that have neither set a 2021 reopening date nor provided their parents an in-person learning option this school year.

Atlanta Public Schools will resume in-person learning starting Jan. 25. City Schools of Decatur will offer that option to students in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade on Jan. 19.

Some parents call DeKalb’s metric “unattainable” or “antiquated.” Austin Elementary parent Callen Henretty said DeKalb’s youngest students should be allowed to do in-person learning, for instance, if the district is reinstating indoor sports.

Officials at last week’s DeKalb school board meeting discussed the merits of updating their metrics in accordance to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. Possibilities included a 10% positivity rate for two weeks, and a community spread of 200 cases per 100,000 people.

Watson-Harris said school districts nationally are waiting for positivity rates anywhere from 3% to 6% before reopening. DeKalb’s positivity rate exceeded 10% on Dec. 10, according to the state health department.

“I want our parents to know that we hear what you’re saying, and this isn’t a plan that we developed and put on a shelf as we’re all waiting around,” Watson-Harris said. “We are at a space where we all have to make or continue to make tough decisions.”

Dunwoody City Councilman John Heneghan writes in his blog that the northern Atlanta suburb has received several emails concerning DeKalb schools. Dunwoody’s city council is meeting on Monday to discuss the possible actions it can take despite its lack of school oversight.

Parents can follow the school district’s Facebook page at 6 p.m. to join the virtual town hall.

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