Some Gwinnett County students, teachers are back in classrooms today

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Some students in the state’s largest district are back at school. Gwinnett County started the transition to in-person learning today.

Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach learned this is just phase one of the plan.

Gwinnett is opening just for kindergarten and first grades at elementary, sixth grade only at middle and only 9th graders in the high schools.

The return to school and a phased re-opening in Gwinnett County public schools brought protests and passioned pleas on both sides.

More than 30 spoke at last week’s board meeting. Some were very emotional, including the mom of a special needs student.

“Noah’s now a 6th grader having just completed his first week of digital learning. I’m saddened to see the shell of the once thriving student,” said parent Lindsey Willis.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Schools and coronavirus]

The mother of three boys in the district also urged for a return to face-to-face learning, where she says some students could be left home alone while parents work, or in an abusive environment where social and emotional health get neglected.

“I want them to have a safe place to go. These are sweet, innocent children. They are stuck in these homes, please let them go back to school,” Willis said.


But the board also heard from parents urging schools not to re-open. And from teachers, some saying they were given no choice to take leave or work remotely and are forced to go back.

[COUNTY-BY-COUNTY: Plans for returning to school this fall]

That includes one first grade teacher who will return to the classroom Wednesday.

“I, Amy Forehand, do not feel safe teaching in Gwinnett County Public Schools under the current plan. I’m scared for my health, I’m scared for my family’s health, I’m scared for my co-worker’s health and I’m scared for my student’s health,” said teacher Amy Forehand.