Marietta schools could reopen some classrooms after Labor Day

The Marietta City School System has released a phased approach to reopening its classrooms in September. The school board will discuss the proposal during its virtual work session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11.
The Marietta City School System has released a phased approach to reopening its classrooms in September. The school board will discuss the proposal during its virtual work session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11.

Credit: Marietta City Schools

Credit: Marietta City Schools

Marietta City Schools, which reopened a week ago for virtual classes, could allow some students to return to in-person class as early as next month, but could return all students to the classroom as long as there is a consistent decline in coronavirus cases.

That’s according to preliminary details of the system’s proposed reopening plan, which was unveiled Monday in a message to district families from Superintendent Grant Rivera. The plan will be discussed in detail during the Marietta City School Board’s virtual work session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11 and needs the board’s approval.

According to the proposed plan, the district’s phased approached to in-person learning would be extended to its youngest students and students with disabilities first — as early as Sept. 8. Under the first phase, students in pre-kindergarten through second grade and some students with special needs who are in grades three through five would be in the classroom two days a week, while other students continue with virtual classes.

Rivera said the plan is designed to return the younger and special needs students first because they “often times have the greatest difficulties in accessing virtual learning.”

If the board approves the plan, Rivera said other students would return in a phased approach to the classrooms two days a week, but would eventually be in class five days a week. Those students would be in classrooms with no more than nine of their peers to allow for social distancing, and would have to wear face coverings and have their temperatures checked daily, Rivera said.

The superintendent, who said the plan is “responsive” to how the virus is spreading in Cobb, added the district will implement frequent outside breaks, adjust HVAC equipment to provide greater ventilation and allow staff to deliver meals to classrooms to reduce the amount of time students need to be in the hallways.

Rivera said the system’s plan would be offered in addition to the full virtual learning option that’s already in place.

Cobb & Douglas Public Health officials will join Tuesday’s meeting to discuss with school board members the latest information about the coronavirus pandemic in Cobb County. As of Monday, Cobb had 13,729 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus. The county has had 320 deaths caused by the virus and 1,393 hospitalizations, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

READ | Marietta schools offer childcare for teachers during remote learning

“Words cannot capture my degree of gratitude for each of you,” Rivera said in the message. “Whether we agree or disagree on if or how our schools should open for in-person learning, one thing is certain: in the history of our school district, our families have never been so involved in their child’s education. Thank you for joining us as we meet this moment together. Our children need us now more than ever.”

Marietta City Schools, which has just under 8,900 students, began the school year with virtual classes on Aug. 4. The system’s unveiling of its school reopening plan came a week after Cobb County schools released its own proposal to do a phased approach back to in-person classes. It also follows news of COVID-19 cases cropping up in Cherokee and Paulding County schools, which both opened for virtual and in-person classes last week without a mandate for students to wear masks.

North Paulding High School, which entered the national spotlight last week when an infamous photo of students walking in a crowded hallway went viral on social media, also moved to virtual learning this week after six students and three staffers were diagnosed with COVID-19. Paulding’s school officials plan to allow students to return on Wednesday after the buildings have been cleaned.

READ | Five Marietta schools employees test positive for COVID-19

Gov. Brian Kemp said Monday he would not implement a statewide masks requirement for public schools, adding he believes local superintendents should make those decisions for their districts.

“We’ve given the responsibility to the schools, to the local superintendents,” Kemp said. “Like most things in education, I’m a firm believer that the local governments know their schools better than the state government does.”

Marietta City Schools work session on Tuesday will be broadcast via Zoom. The passcode to watch the meeting is 382413.

Like Cobb County News Now on Facebook | Follow on Twitter