As schools, colleges return after Labor Day holiday, the debate continues over in-person learning

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — As a portion of Marietta City Schools’ 8,900 students prepare to return to the classroom Tuesday morning, the district is making sure no child goes hungry.

It is now offering free meals to all students, including those who will remain at home where they’re participating in virtual learning.

Like most school districts across the state, Marietta will reopen in different phases.

Pre-K and kindergarten students, as well as those in first and second grades, will be part of the district’s first phase.

It’s also a similar approach in Cobb County, where the state’s second-largest school district is set to resume in-person learning Oct. 5, with elementary and special education students returning first.

In a recent video to parents, Cobb County Superintendent Chris Ragsdale explained why face-to-face and remote learning students currently in the same class will get the same instruction from the same teacher.

“This will prevent disruptions to existing relationships that students have already made with teachers and will prevent teachers from being asked to do two different jobs at the same time,” Ragsdale said.

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“I’m glad we have the option. I’m interested to hear how they’re going to work schedules in terms of face-to-face and virtual since right now, those schedules have been very different,” parent Beth Edwards told Channel 2′s Michael Seiden. “For our household, having three kids and have two working parents, it is a big sigh of relief.”

But not everyone supports in-person learning, especially on the campus of the University of Georgia.

“I don’t think we should have even been on campus this semester because of the rise of cases,” UGA student Ramin Zareian said.

“It’s definitely stressful because you are worried about your health,” UGA student Gabi Earl said.

But there is a growing group of parents and students who are becoming vocal about their desire for Georgia students to stay on campus and in class.

Nicole Johnson is a member of the online group Keep Georgia Universities Open.

“I’m not particularly worried about changes, spikes from the (Labor Day) weekend,” Johnson said.

Last month, dozens of tenured UGA professors called the reopening of campus “as currently planned unwise.”

The Facebook group is writing letters and calling top administrators and the governor to make their case.

“If they send us home, I’d be pretty devastated,” UGA freshman Zach Morin said.

Back in Cobb County, district leaders, students and staff will be required to wear masks on buses and in buildings. Also, teachers have to wear them while teaching in-person classes next month.