DeKalb Schools set to present plan for reopening schools in the fall

By Marlon A. Walker

The DeKalb County School District will continue preparing its road map for bringing students and teachers back to classrooms for the upcoming school year, district officials said after state officials announced guidance for K-12 school systems.

The plan, which will be presented during the DeKalb County Board of Education’s monthly meeting on June 8, could include changes to classroom set-up, as well as lunchtime and recess. Exact details were not available Tuesday.

“The DeKalb County School District will now align its framework plan with the state’s guidance,” Superintendent Ramona Tyson said. “The District appreciates the fact that (the Georgia Department of Education) recognizes local school districts need the authority and flexibility to meet varying complexities.”

On Monday, the Georgia Department of Education released “Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools,” a 10-page document written by state education and public health officials providing guidance for those in charge of Georgia’s nearly 2 million grade-school students. The document includes responses to low, moderate and substantial spread of the coronavirus, including guidance for hand-washing, mask wearing and social distancing. Should the coronavirus’ spread be considered substantial when school is set to begin, for example, school buildings would close and be disinfected, with districts implementing distance learning and delivering meals to students.

Classrooms have not been used in DeKalb since March 12, when school buildings were first closed to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The state’s guidelines are just that, as the state’s 180 school districts operate independently. Tyson said recently she was waiting for the state’s recovery guidance to consider it with other recommendations the district has taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health department officials.

Still, the plan she will present could change before the first day of school. Tyson, who has worked for the district more than 30 years, has said she intends to retire at the end of the month. She became interim superintendent in November after the school board agreed to part ways with former Superintendent Steve Green. Green initially announced about a year ago that he planned to leave the school district at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

“This plan is designed as a transitioning document for final decisions by the incoming superintendent on July 1,” Tyson said.

Since then, the school board seemed to pick an heir apparent for the role in Rudy Crew, currently president of New York’s Medgar Evers College. Two weeks after Crew was announced as the single finalist for the job, the board voted 4-3 not to hire him, leaving them scrambling to find either an interim or permanent solution by July 1.

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