Blog and News

December 7, 2020

School Reopening Update

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Dear Team & Family,

I hope that you all had a great weekend and are rested and renewed as we prepare to close out the calendar year.

I’m writing today with an update on our reopening plans and to seek your input as we look ahead to 2021.   

When we began this school year, we committed to using science and data, working in concert with our district partners, and following guidance from local, state, and federal officials in our decision making.  We have also had the opportunity to learn from schools and districts across the country that have reopened and done so safely and securely. 

We have growing research that shows that the spread of Covid-19 among children is significantly lower than among older demographics and that community transmission in schools is low. We also know that for many of our scholars, our schools are more than just a source of learning. In addition to these considerations, our communities’ perspectives – scholars, families, and staff – have remained at the forefront of our decision-making.

Based upon all of these inputs, we have decided to proceed with a phased approach that will meet the needs of our community, while continuing to ensure safety and excellence.  Details of this approach can be found below:

Phase 1

Our first phase will see leaders return to our buildings beginning on January 19, 2021.

Phase 2

Our second phase will welcome teachers and staff who volunteer to return to our buildings on January 25, 2021. 

This will be 100% voluntary and will provide our school teams with a runway to launch the necessary systems and routines to eventually welcome scholars back into our buildings.

Phase 3

Our third phase will launch with a targeted group of scholars returning to our buildings for supervised, synchronous instruction beginning on February 8, 2021. 

This small group pilot will see scholars returning to our building and participating in synchronous virtual instruction from our schools in small groups of 3-5.  Our plan is designed to meet our scholars’ needs in a safe, secure way and to provide a place for scholars who have had the most challenges with virtual learning.

Phase 4

Our fourth phase will provide families with a choice to return to face-to-face instruction at our schools, with safe social distancing protocols in place. 

As part of Phase 4, all staff (excluding those with pre-existing or high risk conditions) will return to our buildings for work each day. Prior to scholars returning in Phase 4, there will be a period of time for all staff to return to buildings, prepare for scholars’ return and implement all necessary systems and routines to ensure a safe and secure reopening.

We will continue to monitor public health data, consult with our district partners, follow evolving local, state, and federal guidance and gather input from our community and communicate a targeted start date for Phase 4 in the coming weeks.

We remain committed to proactively seeking your feedback and sharing more about our approach over the coming weeks.  

District Partners

As you may be aware, Atlanta Public Schools announced during a Facebook Town Hall last week that they will be returning to face-to-face instruction beginning in January.  APS is providing families with the choice as to whether they wish to participate in face-to-face instruction over the next two weeks.  Starting on January 25, 2021, those scholars attending APS schools who elect to return to face-to-face instruction will begin returning to their schools in a phased-in approach, culminating on February 4, 2021, when all scholars who elected to return will be back in school.

The approach adopted by APS is one that we have seen many districts across the country elect – providing families with choice and prioritizing the safety and wellness of the community.

Similarly, Fulton County adopted a phased-in approach to in-person learning and has been providing face-to-face instruction since October.

With gratitude,

Kinnari Patel-Smyth