Now, Atlanta school officials have a new plan to give students the option to return starting Jan. 25. But, district officials think it’s crucial such decisions continue to be made at the local level.
Erica Long, senior advisor for policy and government affairs for APS, told board members in November she anticipates some legislators may try to dictate whether schools open or remain virtual only.
Some parents have urged APS to reopen schools immediately, while others have expressed concern about how the district will protect teachers’ health once face-to-face learning resumes.
“We are sensitive to the political and the community questions and concerns about how we are operating as school districts in this new model,” Long told board members. “It’s not unreasonable to expect that there will be some interest in limiting our options, so we want to make clear in our priorities that we can advocate for continued autonomy over how we operate.”
Long said the district also will keep an eye on state and federal funding. Officials said the district needs help to operate during the pandemic, which requires smaller in-person class sizes to ensure social distancing, protective gear and technology upgrades.
Esteves pointed to the state budget approved last summer that cut $950 million in school funding, prompted by the economic downturn due to the pandemic. He said he’s concerned the financial impact could worsen if there’s an attempt “to take away money” from school districts that kept buildings closed during the pandemic.
The 2021 legislative session is scheduled to start Jan. 11.