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City Schools of Decatur outlines its thinking on reopening schools

COVID-19 Decatur

City Schools of Decatur outlines its thinking on reopening schools

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FILE PHOTO USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES: The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education. Top row, left to right: former Superintendent David Dude and School Board Chair Lewis Jones. Bottom row, left to right: School board members James Herndon, Tasha White (Vice Chair), Heather Tell and Jana Johnson-Davis. Image obtained via City Schools of Decatur


Decatur, GA — It is unclear when local schools will reopen, but City Schools of Decatur recently gave its parents some insight into how it will handle reopenings and who will get to return to the classroom first.

In a recent letter to parents, the district discussed its “Phased Return to In-Person Learning.”

As the title implies, the district is considering a phased approach that would allow certain groups of students to return to class ahead of other groups, depending on their grade level and needs.

“As promised, we will announce a decision on or before Sept. 18 for how learning will proceed after Sept. 25,” the letter says. “We hope that we can begin to deliver some in-person activities and instruction very soon, and the current data are encouraging. In the coming days, we will begin surveying staff, students, and parents to gauge their perspectives on returning to buildings. These data will help the district and school teams working on procedures and facility readiness.

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“Although no concrete decisions have been made at this time, and the guidance from agencies is ever-evolving, we are continuing our planning for a phased return. The data and levels of spread to define each phase are still being reviewed.”

The timing between the phases could be days or weeks, the letter notes.

“Specific programs may also be phased within the larger phase, such as bringing kindergarten students back prior to first and second graders,” the letter says. “In general, each phase would be completed prior to the next phase being implemented, but exceptions will be made on a case by case basis.”

Here are all of the phases listed in the recent CSD newsletter:

Phase One Priority Return:

– Mandatory evaluations and assessments for special education, 504, etc., conducted 1-on-1

– Adapted Curriculum/Program Special Education classes and some 3-5-year-old students with IEPs, A/B groups

– Decatur Student Center small counseling groups or individual counseling

– In-district outdoor athletic conditioning and activities

Phase Two Priority Return:

– Birth-3-year-old programs, A/B groups

– Pre-K students, A/B groups

– Grade K-2 students, A/B groups

– Grade 3-5 students, A/B groups

– Outdoor athletic competitions, with limited spectators, with visiting teams following similar safety protocols

– In-district indoor athletic conditioning and activities

– 1-on-1 or small group mentoring programs (prioritizing outdoor activities)

Phase Three Priority Return:

– Grade 6-8 students, A/B groups

– Grade 9-12 students, A/B groups

– Indoor athletic competitions, with limited spectators, with visiting teams following similar safety protocols

Phase Four Priority Return:

– Birth-3-year-old programs, all weekdays

– Pre-K students, all weekdays

– Grade K-2 students, all weekdays

– Grade 3-5 students, all weekdays

Phase Five Priority Return:

– Grade 6-8 students, all weekdays

– Grade 9-12 students, all weekdays

Where A/B groups are indicated, the hybrid scenario we are leaning toward is running the current Monday/Tuesday schedule for one group on a Monday and Tuesday, using Wednesday to deep clean and sanitize buildings, then running the current Monday/Tuesday schedule on Thursday and Friday for the other group, using the weekend to deep clean and sanitize buildings. In phases two through five, support programs such as Special Education (IEPs) will provide services in accordance with the general education schedule denoted for each age group.

The letter also provides some information on what indicators the school district is looking at to determine when to allow students back into classrooms.

The letter says the school district is encouraged by the current data it is seeing.

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“These data are encouraging to us and for many, this is the first time in a long time that we can see a return to in-person activities on the horizon,” the letter says.

The school district said it wants to see cases consistently decreasing and/or very low, stable counts of cases. The school district also is examining “event risk” data, meaning, “The risk that at least one person at an event of a certain size is currently infected with COVID-19. Due to potential under-testing, estimates are also provided at 5, 10, and 20 times current levels (CI).”

What does the School District want to see?

“Low risk estimates for events of around 30 people,” the letter says.

To see the full letter, which includes charts and graphs the school district is using in its analysis, click here.

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