FCS Community Update for December 11, 2020
December 10 Post-Meeting Update
The Fulton County School Board met Thursday, December 10, for its monthly action board meeting at the South Learning Center. Following are highlights of some of the more highly-discussed topics, with the full agenda available online. Additional information and reminders regarding community forums for the proposed K-8 Model, the K-2 textbook adoption process, and registration for FCS' new STEM high schools are included after the Board update.
Farewell to School Board Member Linda Bryant
Fellow School Board members, principals, district staff and colleagues bid a fond farewell to Linda Bryant as she enters retirement. Mrs. Bryant is a former teacher, PTA president, local school advisory committee chair, and later, spent 20+ years with the Georgia probations/corrections department. She also has been chair of the Superintendent's Advisory Committee and a past member of the Fulton Education Foundation Board of Directors, Fulton County Employees' Pension Board and Fulton County Employees' Charitable Fund. Mrs. Bryant held the positions of president and vice president of the Fulton County School Board several times during her 27-year career with Fulton County Schools.
New Board Member Sworn In
Franchesca Warren, who was elected to fill the FCBOE District 4 post, was sworn in for a four-year term of office. Her term officially begins January 1, and her first appearance as school board member will be at the January 12 work session at the North Learning Center.
As in previous meetings, Superintendent Mike Looney provided a brief COVID-19 report. Data on pediatric cases in Fulton County, which includes Atlanta Public Schools and Fulton County Schools, show similar trends for both school systems despite their different learning models. Atlanta Public Schools is in Universal Remote Learning mode where all students attend school virtually and Fulton County Schools has options of students learning in school or at home; however, the community spread is comparable.
Dr. Looney also said that with cases expected to increase due to travelling and family/larger group gatherings over the Winter Break, the district is developing a plan for the safe return for students and staff in January. Details will be shared before the district closes for the two-week break. He also reinforced that second semester will continue with the option of Face-to-Face or Remote Learning as instructional models for students, and that the deadline for parents to make their choice closes Friday, December 11 (more details below). The district also will continue using the FCS Closing Matrix to close schools or modify instruction on a case-by-case basis.
Free COVID-19 Testing: January 2
Similar to the return from Thanksgiving break, students and employees are encouraged to seek COVID-19 testing before returning to an FCS workplace or school particularly if they (1) have travelled out of state/country during winter break; (2) participated in any large gatherings; (3) suspect being exposed to COVID-19; and (4) currently have/had flu-like or COVID-like symptoms.
On January 2, Fulton County Schools will again partner with CORE, the organization working with the Fulton County Board of Health, to provide additional free COVID-19 testing sites. Two to-be-determined locations – one in North Fulton and one in South Fulton – will allow up to 500 free tests per location. Families and employees are encouraged to seek testing through any health provider – a family physician, urgent care center, health department, pharmacy drive-up lane, etc. – as the CORE sites have limited capacity. 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.
The November 29 testing provided by CORE was successful in that it identified 64 individuals who otherwise may have continued to spread the virus to others. 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 are reminded that they must not come to an FCS workplace or school until results are received. Also, 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.
Construction Program Management and Information Technology Updates
David Knotts, Executive Director of Capital Programs, shared a construction program management report on the program’s accomplishments, key performance indicators, special topics, upcoming projects, and challenges to be faced over the next year. Dr. Emily Bell, Chief Technology Officer, and Dr. Ryan Moore, Executive Director of Strategic Planning, also presented an update on Information Technology and its use for tracking and analyzing data for student achievement. Video of all presentations to the School Board can be found on the district’s website.
Important Reminders and Updates
Today is Deadline for Second Semester Commitment Survey
Today, December 11, is the deadline for parents to decide whether they want their children to attend school in-person or virtually for second semester beginning in January 2021. A commitment survey, similar to what was used for first semester, allows parents to select the model they want for their child(ren).
The survey’s early results show a 3% increase of parents choosing Face-to-Face instruction over remote learning, as compared to the totals from first semester. As a reminder, if the survey is not complete, the student’s learning environment will default to the model they are in as of this upcoming Monday, December 14. The decision will remain in effect for the first nine weeks of second semester so that schools and teachers can allocate resources and plan accordingly.
Deadline for STEM Magnet Schools is December 15
The deadline for two new STEM magnet high schools is next Tuesday, December 15. Both opening in August 2021, Global Impact Academy (GIA) in Fairburn and Innovation Academy (IA) in Alpharetta are recruiting for their inaugural student bodies of 9th and 10th grade students. Both schools have an academic focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), with specific course pathways offered in engineering, healthcare and information technology. Students currently in 8th or 9th grade with STEM interests are encouraged to check out the schools to determine if they could be a good educational fit. More information is available at www.fultonschools.org/apply.
Save the Date: January Online Community Forums for K-8 Model
Fulton County Schools will host two additional online community forums to share the K-8 proposal and to collect input in January. The forums will be January 11 and January 25, and both will be held 6-8 p.m. The first was held December 7.
The proposed plan calls for the replacement Conley Hills Elementary School and Hapeville Elementary School, both in the Tri-Cities High School cluster, to become kindergarten through eighth grade schools. The online community forums also will gather information for drawing potential attendance boundaries to fill the Conley Hills and Hapeville campuses and balance the enrollments of surrounding schools, should the K-8 model be adopted by the School Board later this year. More information is posted here.
Last Call for Holiday Giving through Purposity
Only a few days remain until Friday, December 18, which is the end of our holiday giving program through Purposity. Purposity can be used any time for meeting the essential needs of our students, but in theme with the holiday season, we focused on sharing gifts to make their holidays brighter.
About 300 students still have no one sponsoring their holiday gifts. Will you be the one who answers the call? You can select a gift through the Purposity app (available through iPhone and Android app stores) and have it directly shipped to the students’ homes. This keeps your holiday giving safe and contact-free while still bringing a smile to a student’s face. No rushing to the store, battling long lines or struggling with the wrapping paper – it’s so easy to use Purposity to get into the giving spirit!