Atlanta Public Schools begin today: Here’s what you need to know

ATLANTA — Atlanta Public Schools will begin the new school year today but it will be full of changes.

The school year was already delayed from Aug. 10 to Aug. 24, earlier this summer, to give teachers and staff more time to prepare for education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

APS will start 100 percent virtually, one of the last major metro districts to return. The one change here, is that teachers can return and teach from their classroom or from their home.

Channel 2 Action News talked to APS Superintendent Lisa Herring, who said she understands the challenges that parents are facing.

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“We’re not asking them to be teachers, we’re asking them to be parents,” Herring said.

Herring says she’s heard from parents the last several weeks and the focus this year will be on student wellness and keeping kids healthy both physically and emotionally.

“We recognize that not only with the pandemic but even outside of it, our children in various capacities have been exposed to multiple challenges,” Herring said.

She said teachers are recommended to begin every day with a social-emotional learning activity.

APS spent this last week preparing for Monday, opening schools for small groups to pick up materials and needed supplies.

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The district wants heightened communication these first nine weeks, with both parents and the community to keep that connection, even from home.

“We’ve been candid, I’ve tried to be transparent as a superintendent. All of feel angst. These are unprecedented times, so we’ve tried to give reassurance to let them know that if it were our preference, clearly we’d be face-to-face, but even in this virtual time we’re going to focus on teaching and learning,” Herring said.

The district’s providing devices and hot spots if students have problems getting connected with technology.

Whitney Alexander, a mom of three in Atlanta Public Schools, says it will be a challenge keeping her kids engaged.

“I don’t really know what the best option is moving forward,” Alexander said. “I can’t think of an ideal situation until we get a vaccine and the kids can go back to school full time.”