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FCS Community Update for April 23, 2021

FCS Community Update


April 22 Post-Meeting Update

The Fulton County School Board met on Thursday, April 22, for its regularly scheduled Board Meeting at the South Learning Center. Following are highlights of some of the more highly discussed topics, with the full agenda available online. Other topics discussed or approved are available via BoardDocs.


Superintendent's Report

COVID Update
Chief Talent Officer Ron Wade presented an update on the district's COVID-19 management efforts. He began by outlining the recent 14-day trend in COVID cases in Fulton County and highlighted our successful Project Vaccinate 2021 program, through which more than 3,500 employees were vaccinated at FCS sponsored events at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Click here for the complete COVID-19 update.

Mask Update

Mask Mandate Update
Superintendent Mike Looney shared that Fulton County Schools will be taking a measured, cautious approach to relaxing COVID-19 protocols, which includes updating COVID-19 restrictions and mask mandates in phases. There are several factors spurring these changes, including Governor Brian Kemp’s lifting of restrictions on group sizes and ending a ban on large gatherings. Also, vaccines are now readily available to those 16 years of age and older. In this new phase, employees and students who may have been exposed to COVID-19 but have been fully vaccinated will not have to quarantine providing they are symptom free.

Beginning Monday, May 3, 2021:

  • For outdoor activities only, masks will be recommended but not required for students in grades 9-12 and employees in high schools. All other safety protocols will remain in effect for this group of individuals.
  • At school sponsored outdoor events and activities, masks will be recommended but not required for visitors/spectators.
  • Capacity limitations are lifted on all outside school venues (stadiums, fields, etc.).
  • Coaches may attend banquets. 

Beginning Monday, May 17, 2021:

  • While engaged in outdoor activities, masks will be recommended but not required for students in grades PK-8 and employees. All other safety protocols will remain in effect for this group of individuals.
  • School Leaders, in consultation with their respective community support organizations, may schedule and host outdoor end of year celebrations to honor the achievements of students without restrictions on group sizes.

All other existing COVID-19 risk mitigation strategies will remain enforced for the balance of the 2020-21 school year. This includes requiring all staff, students, and visitors to wear a mask while inside an FCS facility, school bus, and adhere to recommended social distancing, surface sanitizing, and handwashing. More information on the new mask mandate can be found here.


Summer FOCUS:

  • The district’s Summer FOCUS Plan is an extension of the 2020-21 school year and existing COVID-19 protocols will remain in effect.

The district will continue to monitor data and collaborate with healthcare officials from the Fulton County Board of Health, the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control to determine how best to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for students, staff and visitors. We are hopeful our communities will continue to experience a decline in COVID-19 cases and an increase in the percentage of the general population being fully vaccinated. We remain committed to informing and updating stakeholders as new guidance and recommendations are received.


Face-to-Face and Virtual instructional options for the new school year
During his remarks, Dr. Looney also discussed Fulton County Schools plans to offer three options for families regarding face-to-face or virtual instruction for the upcoming academic school year. Face-to-face instruction will be the default option for all students when Fulton County Schools return in August of 2021. FCS will also have two virtual options, including the Fulton Academy of Virtual Excellence (F.A.V.E.), where students enroll in a permanent, full-time virtual school. The second option is through Fulton Virtual, where students remain enrolled in their current school and take advantage of virtual course offerings. Fulton Virtual enrollment is part-time enrollment, with a maximum of 1/2 of the school-day schedule for high school students. Course offerings vary by grade level, a full list can be found on the FCS website. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document for the face-to-face and virtual options for 2021-22 is available here.


During the pre-work session, Chief Academic Officer Cliff Jones, joined by seven FCS principals walked through the FOCUS project plan, a collaborative initiative founded on existing effective practices for academic recovery to address the impact of the pandemic on lost instruction and learning. Pre-work sessions allow staff to share preliminary reports with the Board for input before incorporating the information into a future presentation. Since Jones’ last presentation to the Board in February, seven cross-functional FOCUS groups have been working on students’ academic needs. Mr. Jones says research indicates results can be achieved by expanding the effective practices already available in the district.

During his presentation, Mr. Jones unveiled the new FOCUS logo, which was selected from a competition facilitated by the FOCUS Parent Engagement team. The winning logo was chosen from the graphic arts and design program at Chattahoochee High School. He then outlined the budgetary scope of the FOCUS plan. The two-year, $45 million budget is sixty percent of the total Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief fund (ESSER), commonly referred to as Cares 2 funds. Click here for a breakdown of the budget.

He also shared how the FOCUS team has created comprehensive plans which address the universal needs of all students while driving targeted resources and strategies to the students with greatest needs. The plan begins with two teams working on the flexible use of extended time. One team is dedicated to summer school, and one team is dedicated to extended time during the school year during and after the school day. The functions of the other work teams featured in the plan, including High Dosage Small Groups, Assessment Strategy Group, Curriculum Mapping, Parent Engagement and Parent Development, were also presented in detail. Click here for more information about the FOCUS plan.


Capital Planning 2027: Technology Plan
During the pre-work session, Chief Information Officer Emily Bell presented a high-level overview of the technology component of Capital Plan 2027. Pre-work sessions allow staff to share preliminary reports with the Board for input before incorporating the information into a future presentation. Dr. Bell illustrated the successes of the previous capital plan, in particular highlighting how its investments positioned FCS to deliver viable technology platforms, devices, and solutions during COVID-19. The next five-year cycle, Capital Plan 2027, builds on those successes and reflects increased usage and reliance on technology to complement instruction. Dr. Bell discussed key components of the plan, including upgrading and expanding the previous capital plan’s projects and platforms. A summary of the capital plan achievements and future priorities are included in the full presentation.


Bill of Rights
The Board of Education voted to approve the Bill of Rights documents for students, teachers, and parents. The Board and the District recognizes that our stakeholders are incredibly important. Through this vote, the Board and District commit to the tenets in the Fulton County School District’s Student, Teacher, and Parent Bill of Rights. While this is not a legal document creating enforceable rights, it is intended to support an environment of reciprocal accountability. The District will begin work on publicizing and marketing these documents for district-wide distribution. Click here to read the Board item and the current drafts.


Sesquicentennial Celebration
This year, Fulton County Schools is celebrating its sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary. To mark this occasion the Communications team, together with the FCS Teaching Museums, is creating a series of 12 videos chronicling our rich and storied history. Chief Communications Officer Brian Noyes shared the third video in this series, which honors our amazing teachers and features interviews with FCS alumni.


Special Recognition
The Westlake Girls Basketball team, led by longtime Coach Hilda Hankerson, proved they are an unstoppable dynasty, winning their fourth state championship in 2021. They recently took two national awards, the National GEICO Basketball Championship, and were recently crowned MaxPreps National Team of the Year – the first Georgia team to win this title.

Raven Johnson, star point guard for the team at state champion Westlake High School, was named to the McDonald’s All-American roster, one of 24 athletes in the nation of which only five are from Georgia. She was also named Player of the Year by MaxPreps and received the 2021 Jersey Mikes Naismith Girls Player of the Year trophy, the highest accolade a high school basketball player can receive in the U.S.


Facility Plan Community Meetings
As a reminder, Fulton County Schools is hosting four community engagements next week to share information on the Facility Plan under development and to solicit feedback. Meeting dates and times can be viewed on the Facility Plan website, and a special Facility Plan survey will soon go live to collect input on planning priorities.