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City Schools of Decatur announces plan for in-person schooling in November, virtual learning to continue

COVID-19 Decatur

City Schools of Decatur announces plan for in-person schooling in November, virtual learning to continue

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Decatur High School. Photo by Dean Hesse.


Decatur, GA — City Schools of Decatur released an update to their “Roadmap to In-Person Learning” on Friday, announcing that they are planning for all CSD students to return to the classroom by November if it is deemed safe to do so, with students with IEPs, College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center, and Frasier Birth-3 students returning by October 12. A virtual option will be available in all phases of the re-opening plan for those who wish to continue virtual learning.

The plan is to phase students in by grade level over several weeks in November, beginning November 2nd. The students’ holiday break would still begin December 14. Approved small-group activities may resume in-person in September and October. As of September 18, approved small-group activities include DHS senior photos, DHS cheerleading, DHS band, DHS cross-country, DHS varsity football, and DHS varsity softball.

The statement reads:

All employees will resume working from their school or building by October 12. ECLC and Frasier Birth-3 students and students with IEPs served in the adapted curriculum program will return to in-person learning starting October 12. Over the three weeks starting November 2, the other 97% of our students will begin returning to in-person learning through phases based on grade levels. We plan to offer all families the option to keep their child(ren) engaged through virtual learning. We are monitoring multiple community health indicators in anticipation of a return to school, which for most students will not be until November. If the data suggest it is unsafe to return to (or remain in) school, we will adjust our plans accordingly. We are also shifting the days missed from the canceled fall break to December. Students will begin their Holiday Break on December 14.

Rigorous mitigation strategies will remain in place, including mandatory masks for all staff and students, frequent handwashing and respiratory etiquette, random temperature checks, social distancing to the extent possible, ongoing cleaning and disinfecting regimen of CSD facilities, cold plasma air filtration at all school buildings, and contact tracing in collaboration with the local health department.

A survey of stakeholders was conducted on September 16 to garner feedback about virtual and in-person learning. When asked to respond to the statement “we should transition to a hybrid or full in-person learning environment within the next month or two, if virus levels remain at current levels or below,” parents and students were evenly split between “agree” and “disagree,”and teachers and staff were also split but leaned more toward “disagree.” The survey also showed that parents, students, teachers, and staff did not feel that virtual learning was as valuable as in-person learning.

City Schools of Decatur is considering statistics on the spread of COVID-19 within Dekalb County when making these plans. “As of September 18, DeKalb County has a rate of 117 cases per 100,000 persons (higher risk) and a 7-day average of 4% positive tests (moderate risk). These values have dropped over the last several weeks. If community mitigation measures continue with fidelity, they are likely to continue to drop. We are ready to implement all five of the key mitigation strategies recommended by the CDC (lowest risk),” the statement reads.

“Based on those primary indicators, we are currently in the yellow range of that chart and likely to move toward green in the coming weeks. On the secondary indicators, current inpatient bed utilization is at 78.6% (lowest risk), ICU bed utilization is at 81% (moderate risk), inpatient bed utilization by patients with COVID-19 is at 7.3% (lower risk), and we know of no localized outbreaks (lowest risk). We will continue monitoring these data and will adjust our plans if needed.”

A virtual option will be available in all phases of the re-opening plan for those who wish to continue virtual learning.

The “road map” as of September 18th is as follows:

Phase 1 (September 18 – October 9): 100% virtual learning for all students; approved small-group activities resume in-person

Phase 2 (October 12 – October 30): Phase 1 continues; 0-3 students at College Heights and Frasier Center return; Students served in the adapted curriculum special education program return; CSD Learning Pods begin

Phase 3 (November 2 – 6): School in session (in-person and virtually); no professional learning day; Phases 1 and 2 continue; Grades Pre-K, K, 3, 6, and 9 return

Phase 4 (November 9 – 13): Phases 1, 2, and 3 continue; Grades 1, 4, 7, and 10 return

Phase 5 (November 16 – 20): Phases 1 – 4 continue; Grades 2, 5, 8, 11, and 12 return

November 23 – 27: Thanksgiving Break

November 30 – December 11 – Full in-person schooling for all CSD students

December 14 – December 18 – No School (adjustment for fall break)

December 21 – January 1 – Holiday Break

January 5 – Full in-person schooling continues for all CSD students.

For more information, read the statement from City Schools of Decatur here, visit the In-Person Learning Q&A page, and visit the Opening 2020 page.

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