Decision on reopening Atlanta schools will be made by next superintendent

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen addresses the Atlanta Press Club in this file photo from Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. VANESSA McCRAY/vanessa.mccray@ajc.com
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen addresses the Atlanta Press Club in this file photo from Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. VANESSA McCRAY/vanessa.mccray@ajc.com

A month before her contract expires, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen is planning for a leadership transition and next school year.

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen held a virtual town hall session on Tuesday during which she outlined the district’s approach to the start of next school year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Carstarphen’s contract expires June 30. Lisa Herring, the incoming superintendent, will take over July 1.

It will be up to the Herring-led administration to make decisions about how to start the next school year and reopen school buildings, Carstarphen said. For now, the district still plans to begin next school year on Aug. 10.

Carstarphen said she and an APS coronavirus task force are compiling information, studying research and reviewing possible scenarios. Educators around the country are considering various educational models for the fall, from resuming face-to-face instruction to continuing online lessons to a blended approach that mixes in-person and virtual learning.

“My job is to try to pull that together for the consideration of the next administration, and they’ll make the decisions on what that looks like,” Carstarphen said.

There’s a host of things to consider. How will buses safely transport students while maintaining social distancing? Will students and teachers be required to wear masks? And how will the district meet other health guidelines from  installing sneeze guards to making sure food is safe?

Carstarphen said she’s preparing a detailed update on academics, legal issues and staff vacancies to pass on to Herring.

The board previously agreed to pay Herring to work as a consultant before her official start date to help with the transition.

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