Fulton Co. Schools announce reopen date, students to choose in-person or online learning

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — The Fulton County School Board has voted to reopen school on Aug. 17.

The board voted unanimously Monday to push back the start date a week from their original start date of Aug. 10.

Students will also have two choices of how to attend class: in-person classes or virtual. Once they decide, it will be a commitment for a whole semester.

Online registration for the virtual model will be open Tuesday through July 17.

Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes will only be offered in an in-person setting.

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“I am nervous about sending my kids back because I’m just not sure of their safety,” said parent Marcie, who did not want to use her last name.

Marcie says she has two elementary schoolers and a middle schooler in Fulton County.

“I think that the most perfect thing would be to gear up for a school year of online learning,” Marcie said.

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The district will provide devices and hotspots as needed to students choosing the online option.

Staff will be given two reusable masks and will be required to wear them. Students who ride the bus are expected to wear a face covering and will be strongly encouraged -- but not mandated -- to wear them in school.

Looney said the district will teach children why mask-wearing is important, and teachers will incentivize students to wear them.

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“I believe that if we can get a penetration rate of above 70% of voluntary compliance that we will be doing very well by our school community, our employees and our students,” he said. “There are always going to be concerns about everybody being required to wear a mask for a myriad of reasons and so to that point I believe that we are better off influencing through the power of relationship than requiring.”

Classroom layouts will be modified, and desks will be spaced out. Changes will be made to lunch service and buses. Schools won’t hold large assemblies. Class changes will be staggered so that not everyone floods the hallway all at once.

[RELATED: Gwinnett County releases plan for return to school in August]

The district is planning additional online informational meetings to answer more questions and provide information.

The Fulton school system is Georgia’s fourth largest school district, with more than 93,500 students.

Information for this article from Vanessa McCray and Ben Brasch with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.