Teachers, parents rally outside APS headquarters as some students return to in-person learning

ATLANTA — Teachers are urging school leaders at Atlanta Public Schools to not have students return to in-person learning in classrooms.

Students in Pre-K through 2nd grade were back in schools Monday. Parents and teachers that are part of a group called We Demand Safety APS rallied outside APS headquarters Monday afternoon, upset about the return to face-to-face leaning.

Late Friday, Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring announced she would postpone the return of students in 3rd through 12th grade. Instead of coming back next week, APS will wait one to two weeks.

During a news conference Monday, Herring said the delay will give APS more time to implement a new surveillance testing program to curb spread of the virus. It also allows the district’s youngest and “most vulnerable” students to get the academic support they need.

Many teachers and parents believe the announcement about surveillance testing is a step in the right direction - but were still rallying because they believe teachers are still in danger.

APS is the first school district in metro Atlanta to offer COVID-19 surveillance testing in all of its schools.

TRENDING STORIES:

“(This) has been recognized as one of the surest ways to help create a safe environment,” Herring said.

She believes it’s the next best thing as school officials and employees wait their turn to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Teachers and other employees are expected to get results their test results in 24 hours.

Jennifer Rogers-Givens is an APS parent who also represents hundreds of teachers with a group called We Demand Safety APS.

“We definitely think this is a step in the right direction,” Rogers-Givens said.

She said the group agrees the step will help control the spread of the virus, but it doesn’t mean teachers are safe.

“It also doesn’t change the fact that they can still contract it. So yes, it’s great we’re testing weekly but it doesn’t mean teachers aren’t susceptible to catching COVID,” Rogers-Givens said. “Our perspective is we still believe they need to remain virtual and focus on the students they have been focusing on, the ones in the building, because they’ve been identified by the school as having a need.”

Many teachers who rallied outside district headquarters Monday said they felt it was OK for students in Pre-K to 2nd grade to return to the classroom, but it is the older students they are worried about.