We have several significant announcements that affect how our school system transitions to Winter Break and then returns for second semester.
The information is lengthy, therefore it is organized into three parts: (1) a switch to remote learning for certain schools for the remainder of this week; (2) information about our return-to-school plan for safely coming back together in January; and (3) additional voluntary COVID-19 testing sites under way to provide more options for our employees and community.
Transition to Remote Learning for Certain Schools
Due to an increase of COVID-19 cases in the community, Superintendent Mike Looney has made the decision to switch to remote learning for all high schools beginning Wednesday, December 16. Wednesday through Friday are already half-days due to final exams, and with the higher number of recent cases occurring at the high school level, the decision was made to switch to remote learning until the end of the week. North Springs High School, however, will begin remote learning on Tuesday, December 15, due to the impact of quarantining and staff absences. Schools will communicate schedule details regarding those days.
For elementary and middle schools, we will continue to follow the school-by-school process when determining whether to switch to remote learning. We will honor our commitment to keep schools open as long as it is safe and operationally possible. However, due to the number of cases and staff quarantines, the following schools have reached a Level 2 on the FCS Closing Matrix and will switch to remote learning through Friday, December 18:
- Renaissance Elementary School
- Evoline C. West Elementary School
- Hopewell Middle School
- McNair Middle School
- Webb Bridge Middle School
Return-to-School Plan – Second Semester
Our return-to-school plan for second semester includes a two-week transition that begins remotely for staff/students and ends with in-school learning.
- Week of January 4-8:
- Second semester begins for students on Wednesday, January 6.
- Tuesday, Jan. 5, was added to Monday, Jan 4, as a teacher workday/student holiday because many schools are election polling sites.
- All PreK-12 students will participate in remote learning January 6 - 8.
- Week of January 11-15:
- Middle and high school students will participate in remote learning on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12, while elementary students return to school for Face-to-Face instruction, if they chose the in-person learning model for second semester.
- On Jan. 13, PreK-12 students (except those who chose remote learning) will come back for Face-to-Face instruction.
- A calendar representation of these details can be seen here: Transitioning Safely into Second Semester
Voluntary COVID-19 Testing
Similar to the return from Thanksgiving break, students and employees are encouraged to seek COVID-19 testing before returning to a school or an FCS workplace if they (1) have traveled out of state/country during winter break; (2) participated in any large gatherings; (3) suspect being exposed to COVID-19; and/or (4) currently have/had flu-like or COVID-like symptoms.
On January 2, Fulton County Schools will again partner with CORE to host drive-up testing sites at two Fulton County Schools locations, one in North Fulton and one in South Fulton. These locations are still being confirmed and will be communicated before the end of the week [Updated to add: Banneker High School (6015 Feldwood Road, College Park) and North Springs High School (7447 Roswell Road NE, Sandy Springs) will be the testing sites from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) Each site can administer up to 500 tests, so families and employees are encouraged to undergo testing through any health provider – a family physician, urgent care center, CORE test site, health department, pharmacy drive-up lane, etc. This link is not an exhaustive list of all local providers who offer COVID-19 testing, but it provides information on free test sites coordinated specifically by the Fulton County Board of Health.
Please know that COVID-19 testing is completely voluntary. However, being able to identify individuals with COVID-19 is a critical, proactive measure to keeping infected individuals from unintentionally spreading the virus to others. When COVID-19 testing was recommended after the Thanksgiving holiday, the two FCS CORE test sites reported 64 positive results, which led to notifying those individuals so they could quarantine and not continue to spread the virus. The January 2 test date aims to similarly identify infected individuals so they do not return to school or work until they are well.
CORE has again agreed to expedite the reporting process from the FCS sites, with most results reported within 48 hours. Those not receiving results within that timeframe should not come to an FCS workplace or school until results are received. And finally, as a reminder, parents whose children undergo testing are reminded to make a report to the school district’s Parent (Student) COVID-19 Reporting Portal. Employees should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (with their phone number) if they have a positive result, are still waiting for their test results, or have had direct contact with someone testing positive.
While we wish this message was more festive in keeping with the holiday season, the information is vital to keeping our community healthy so that school operations can safely resume in January. There is no greater responsibility than keeping our families and employees safe and healthy right now as we continue educating our students.
We genuinely hope that this Winter Break will be a happy, restful and enjoyable time, but we also urge your family to keep their guards up so everyone can remain safe and healthy. Continue to wash your hands often, wear a mask/face covering, and practice social distancing when in public!
We look forward to saying goodbye to this unusual 2020 year and saying hello to you in 2021!
Fulton County Schools