Alpharetta - Milton Edition - July 2020

LEARNING OPTIONS AT FULTON COUNTY SCHOOLS

limiting large gatherings. Teachers will also imple- ment more digital programs in classes so students and faculty both have more practice with such pro- grams in the event that schools close again and a vir- tual learning environment is a necessity. Outside visitors will also be limited, and extensive cleaning measures will be taken between classes as well as before and after school. Buses will have adjusted loading and unloading methods with assigned seating and extra cleaning measures. Bus drivers will be provided face shields or masks, and sanitizing stations will be installed on school buses. “We will have challenges based on layout ... based on furniture ... based on class sizes ... and we will change ourmethods because of that,” Jones said. “The complex re-entry into school is a leadership challenge that our leaders are ready and willing to lean into.” Virtual learning For parents who elect to enroll their student in one of the two virtual options, remote learning will be more rigorous than it was this spring. “We had tomake that transition so quickly to have students all working from home, that we character- ize more as emergency remote learning than we do online learning,” Sharp said. “If you’re really doing an online learning program ... there generally is a lot of thought and care and planning that goes into how are you going to execute it? What are you going to do? What are the protocols you’re going to use? … Nobody had time for that.” Faculty and board members also stressed the dif- ference between remote learning this spring versus this fall. District 2 board member Katie Reeves, who represents a large portion of Alpharetta, said the relaxed school expectations from this spring will not carry over into the fall. “People want to know if [remote learning is] going to be like last spring. It’s not,” Reeves said. “It’s still full-time school, and I think people should under- stand that.” Individual remote learning is available for rst to eighth grades at their home schools, while the remote option for ninth to 12th gradeswill operate through the existing Fulton Virtual School. High school students will still stay enrolled at their current school. Parents with children inpre-Kor kindergartenwhowant to opt out of in-person school will not have digital options, and work will instead be distributed in paper packets. Additionally, devices will be provided to all stu- dents in rst to 12th grades who enroll in either of the remote learning options, and Wi-Fi hot spots will be distributed on an as-needed basis. Students needing meal service while in the remote learning model can still receive free meals through local schools. Not all courses, particularly elective courses, will be oered in the virtual format. Virtual clubs will be oered, but extracurricular activities and athletics will not be oered. “There is no adequate replacement for a teacher and students working together in a classroom,” Loo- ney said. Anna Lotz contributed to this report.

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Georgia closed shortly after to help curb the spread. FCS leadership was forced to roll out remote learn- ing quickly to continue the school year after closing facilities for the remainder of the spring semester. Students interested in Fulton Virtual School and individual remote learning, which require semes- terlong commitments, had until July 17 to register. Ocials have stressed that virtual learning options will be much more organized and rigorous than at the end of the last school year. “There’s an old saying that the only constant in life is change. And that’s probably never truer than it is today,” FCS Chief Operations Ocer Pat- rick Burke said during the June 29 board meeting. “Parents, students and sta will see change as they come back into their school environment and the upcoming year.” Board members voted June 29 to push the school year start date from Aug. 10 to Aug. 17, citing that one-third of FCS campuses will be used as polling places for the Aug. 11 election, and the district needs additional time to clean and disinfect these schools. “Since elections bring large numbers of voters and other members of the public into our buildings, this creates an additional safety concern,” FCS ocials said in a news release June 29. If COVID-19 data indicates it is not safe to reopen schools for in-person instruction, FCS Superinten- dent Mike Looney said a universal remote learning option will be implemented districtwide at the start of the school year. FCS ocials also have a closure matrix prepared in the event that COVID-19 cases occur within the district upon returning to in-person instruction, adjusted based on state and local public health guid- ance on the level of community spread. This closure decision matrix allows the district to adjust closures based on the individual school, cluster, zone or region as needed rather than implementing a blan- ket closure districtwide. Returning for in-person instruction Jean Sharp, board member of the Digital Learning Collaborative—a national group dedicated to best practices in digital learning—said school districts across the nation, including FCS, have faced major challenges preparing for what in-person instruction should look like this fall. “It’s really causing a big challenge for school dis- tricts, because we know how to start a new school year—we’ve done that for many, many years—but suddenly we’re faced with a new school year that’s going to look signicantly dierent than it’s ever looked before,” Sharp said. For students returning for in-person instruction, hand sanitizing stations will be installed throughout schools, and all FCS employees will wear facemasks, as required and provided by the district, according to Chief Academic Ocer Cli Jones. Students will not be required to wear face coverings to school; however, students are still strongly encouraged to wear face coverings at school and are expected to wear one on the bus, he said June 29. Schools will enforce social distancing in various ways, including facing desks in one direction and

COMPILED BY KARA MCINTYRE DESIGNED BY LINDSAY SCOTT

Fulton County Schools board members and Superintendent Mike Looney presented two options for returning to school this fall: face-to-face instruction or individual remote learning/Fulton Virtual School. Should COVID-19 data from public health ocials show a health concern for returning to school in-person, FCS is expected to implement a universal remote learning option for the entire district.

FACETOFACE INSTRUCTION

• Traditional classroom instruction with modied social distancing and cleaning practices in place • Athletics, recess, physical education, art, band, specials, connections, chorus and orchestra will still be allowed • All grades eligible

Parents can choose to enroll their children in a digital learning option if they do not wish to send their child to in-person schooling. Parents with children in pre-K or kindergarten will not have digital options, and work will instead be distributed in paper packets should the parent opt out of in-person instruction.

DIGITAL INSTRUCTION

• Attendance taken daily • Full-time instruction each day • Not all courses, particularly electives and specials, will be oered • No athletics or extracurricular activities • Virtual clubs oered • Semesterlong commitment

• Grading consistent with on-campus grading • District will provide devices to all students and Wi-Fi hotspots as needed

GRADES 18 INDIVIDUAL REMOTE LEARNING

• Students stay enrolled at their home school • Accelerated curriculum oered for sixth through eighth grades

GRADES 912 FULTONVIRTUAL SCHOOL • Students stay enrolled at their home school and register for the existing Fulton Virtual School as a secondary school/program • A total of 24 Advanced Placement classes will be available

For more information, visit communityimpact.com .

SOURCE: FULTON COUNTY SCHOOLS COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

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