Lisa Herring, the incoming Atlanta Public Schools superintendent, is shown in this screen grab as she talks to parents about the district's reopening plans during a town hall on Thursday, June 18, 2020.

Incoming APS superintendent talks to parents about reopening options

The incoming Atlanta Public Schools superintendent outlined how public health guidelines will inform decisions about reopening schools

Lisa Herring, the Birmingham, Alabama, school system superintendent who will take over at APS on July 1, addressed parents during an online town hall on Thursday. 

The district hosted the event to discuss the reopening scenarios under consideration for when school resumes Aug. 10. Herring plans to announce the reopening plan in early to mid-July, and the district is surveying parents about their preferences

Atlanta schools closed in mid-March in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus. District officials are considering three options for the start of next school year: In-person instruction, virtual lessons or a hybrid of those two. 

Herring said the district would hold in-person classes only  if public health guidelines indicate that there is low-to-no spread of COVID-19. In that event, school buildings could reopen with safety practices in place. 

Classes would be fully online if a substantial spread of COVID-19 remains in the community, Herring said. In that scenario, no buildings or schools would be in use. The district could switch to a different model if the public health outlook improves. 

If there’s a minimal to moderate spread of the virus, the district could implement a hybrid option. In that scenario, half of a school’s students would go to school to be taught in-person and the other half would stay home doing online classes. The two groups of students would switch places depending on the day, allowing for staggered use of buildings. 

APS has held a series of virtual town halls to update parents during the coronavirus closures. Herring is working for the district as a consultant to prepare for the leadership transition. Thursday’s event was the first time she served as the district’s public face during a coronavirus town hall discussion. 

The district will host a second virtual town hall, this time with a Spanish interpreter, at 6:30 p.m. Monday on the APS Facebook page.

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