Superintendent, board members discuss DeKalb County schools’ tentative reopening plan

DEKALB COUNTY, GA. — DeKalb County parents are wondering if their children will return to the classroom at all this semester.

Channel 2′s Kristen Holloway learned that district leaders are looking at a hybrid plan but a start date has not yet been set.

The hybrid plan is two days in the classroom and three days at home. Only 12 to 16 students in each class to allow for social distancing.

So half the students will come one day, the other half the next.

DeKalb County school leaders haven’t decided on a date but superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris says their approach is a slow phased in model, which will only be implemented when it’s safe.

“100 positive cases per 100,000 over a 14-day period,” Watson-Harris said.

Then the district will start with phase one -- bringing teachers back for a week, then students.

“Our cap will be 12 to 16 per classroom, that’s why we have the hybrid model because you’ll have half of the children one day and half another day. Our community survey suggests that there will be a number of parents and families that select virtual so that cut down the numbers even further,” Watson-Harris said.

Watson-Harris says masks will be mandatory for students and staff in school and on the bus.

For staff members not comfortable returning to their buildings, Watson-Harris says they will be able to file for certain types of leave.

“If they have young children at home, if they have certain hardships, if they have underlying health conditions. Our Human Resources will certainly work will our staff,” Watson-Harris said.

The superintendent wants to be very clear, this plan, which is 46 pages long on a PowerPoint, is very fluid. In fact, they started a focus group with teachers, parents and district leaders to add ideas or take-aways.

But not everyone is onboard with this tentative plan.

Some DeKalb County board members had strong words during a virtual meeting on Monday.

“I will not have blood on my hands. You all can come back whenever you want, I not be coming into a building,” said Dr. Joyce Morley.

Morley expressed that she’s also concerned the weight falls on teachers to make sure students socially distance

“They can’t even be 4 feet apart in classroom, less than 6 feet apart and you putting that on teachers. Add another thing to them but you’re not giving them any more money. It’s utterly ridiculous,” Morley said.

Vice Chair Vicky Turner said in the middle of a pandemic, following the data and science will be key for reopening.

“I think there are so many mysteries as it relates to COVID-19. We just don’t know, and I don’t want to find out after we’ve experienced a tragedy,” Turner said.