Fulton County Schools superintendent details plans for students’ fall return

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Fulton County School’s superintendent, Dr. Mike Looney, said he expects more than 90,000 students to walk into classrooms on August 9.

There is a virtual option for students, and masks will be optional for those who return to classrooms. Teachers and students will not be asked if they are vaccinated.

“The fact that we’ve been able to have summer school in very large numbers this year without incident is a reflection of our ability to mitigate risk for our students and our staff members,” said Looney.

The district will still encourage students and staff to wear masks.

“We will continue to encourage mask-wearing of employees and students as they find appropriate in need,” said Looney.

Looney said the district has a three-year plan to make up learning losses students may have experienced during the pandemic.

“We’re not trying to do everything all at once. We’re compacting our curriculum. We’re providing a high-dosage intervention and tutoring services, and we know that we’re in this for the long haul,” said Looney.

Students learning virtually experienced a different environment over the past year.

“Students have really accelerated in a virtual environment. But for most students and in public schools, most students gain so much more value from being in a face-to-face environment,” said Looney.

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There are resources that students benefit from when learning in an actual school building.

“There are so many other assets and resources available in physical school versus virtual school, such as the libraries, such as the school counselor, you know, talking to the janitor as you’re walking down the hall,” said Looney.

Looney said he is cautiously optimistic that school for Fulton County students is going to look a lot like 2019. He’s realistic and said they’re ready to adjust if COVID-19 cases climb.