More Atlanta students pick in-person learning for final 9 weeks

Atlanta Public Schools will start its final nine-week quarter on March 22. BOB ANDRES/ AJC FILE ART

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

Atlanta Public Schools will start its final nine-week quarter on March 22. BOB ANDRES/ AJC FILE ART

A couple thousand more Atlanta students plan to return to campuses during the last quarter of the school year.

More than 15,000 students opted for face-to-face learning starting March 22, the beginning of Atlanta Public Schools’ fourth quarter. The district will teach other students virtually for the remaining nine weeks of the school year.

APS will continue to reserve Wednesdays as an independent work day during which all students learn remotely.

The number of students choosing to learn in-person represents roughly 41% of students who attend the district’s traditional, non-charter schools, according to data obtained Monday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an open-records request.

That’s up from about 13,000, or roughly one-third, of students who said they planned to go back when campuses first began to reopen in late January.

The sites with the highest percent of in-person learners are all elementary schools in the district’s North Atlanta and Grady clusters. Return rates vary widely by school, from a high of 86% at Morris Brandon Elementary School on the city’s north side to a low of 13.4% at Carver Early College, a southeast Atlanta high school.

District officials previously said that if a large number of students choose to return to a specific school, then the school may switch to a hybrid schedule to lessen the number of people in the building at any one time.

Only one school, Mary Lin Elementary School, will take that approach. Nearly three quarters of the school’s students said they plan to return to the school, but only those with the greatest academic, social and emotional needs will learn in-person four days a week.

Other students who selected the in-person option will go to Mary Lin two days a week and learn virtually the other three.

The remaining Atlanta schools with high percentages of returning students will implement “other creative solutions to accommodate students,” said APS spokesman Seth Coleman, in an email.

There are several reasons why more families may be more willing to send their children back now.

Local COVID-19 case numbers have fallen significantly since in the last few months, and more people are now eligible for the vaccine. APS plans to offer employee’s the first dose of the vaccine on March 24, 26 and 27 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Atlanta schools with highest percentage of in-person students for the fourth quarter:

Morris Brandon Elementary School: 86%

Jackson Elementary School: 83.6%

Sarah Smith Elementary School: 76.5%

Mary Lin Elementary School: 73.1%

Morningside Elementary School: 72.6%

E. Rivers Elementary School: 71.6%

Springdale Park Elementary School: 66.2%

Garden Hills Elementary School: 61.3%

Bolton Academy Elementary School: 60.2%