Parents question decision by APS to send teachers, staff back to classroom Tuesday

ATLANTA — Starting Tuesday, it’s back to school buildings for teachers and staff within Atlanta Public Schools.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, some parents are worried, with some students set to join teachers next week.

Laura Lahiff is a mother of three children who go to school in the district.

“I think she was backed into a corner, most likely,” Lahiff said.

She told Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes that she’s very involved in the virtual town hall meetings and has listened to superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring say she’s following the most current COVID-19 data when making decisions.

Lahiff said she is confused as to why district employees are back in school buildings this week and why students who choose to are heading back into schools next week

“We are now at levels that are eight-times what it was when it was deemed unsafe back then. So at this point it seems dangerous and foolhearted to return back to in-person learning,” Lahiff said.

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Parent Robert Quarles has a different perspective. His daughters, who are 5- and 6-years-old, are enrolled in private school so they could learn face to face.

He told Fernandes that it’s been successful since August.

“I don’t think there’s anything unique about one district or another at the basic level. I think if people can put together a smart plan and be thoughtful and work together as a community of how they implement that plan, you know it makes sense and it’s good for everybody,” Quarles said.

He said making all students wear masks all day is part of that plan.

“Parents have to lead their tribes and you make your children understand why it’s important and they will do it. That’s the way I view it at least,” Quarles said.

Fernandes said a survey of about 600 APS teachers found more than 80% said they feel forced to go back to the classroom and they’re scared.