The Week with Dr. Lisa Herring Week of September 21

Good day, Atlanta Public Schools!

I’m Dr. Lisa Herring, Superintendent. Welcome back to “The Week” where we provide you with a video summary of the news and information you need most from Atlanta Public Schools.

We are here in the historic classroom at the newly renovated David T. Howard Middle School to bring you the big news of the week: A proposed Return+Learn plan that starts bringing students back for face-to-face instruction as part of a hybrid model.

Based on current COVID-19 health data for the APS community and because of safety measures and protocols we have in place, I am encouraged that we can start allowing some students to return for in-person learning beginning October 26. These student groups include: 

  • Students with Disabilities attending low incidence programs including our regional, self-contained classes, and 
  • Pre-K- Second Grade students in traditional APS schools.

At this time, we are looking at a proposed Hybrid Model in which our students from PreK through second grade will return for in-person instruction two days each week on a staggered schedule with roughly half of them coming in on Monday and Tuesday and the other half on Thursday and Friday. The rest of the week would involve virtual instruction.

Our Students with Disabilities would come back for four days of face-to-face instruction.

Other students would remain in virtual instruction at this time. However, we are also entertaining proposed return models for grades 3-12. More information for those grade levels will be forthcoming.

All of these proposed models are contingent upon health data and stakeholder feedback. If public health data trends unfavorably, a return to a full virtual model may be warranted at any time.

We are asking all of our parents and families to complete a survey to detail their intent on returning to school for either face-to-face instruction or virtual.

Learn more about our plans by visiting our Return+Learn website, watching our presentation to the Atlanta Board of Education, and revisiting this week’s community town hall.

As we continue quality teaching and learning amid a season of pandemic and a season of protest, we simply could not have made it this far without the support of some amazing and generous partners.

I cannot name them all, but I am humbled by the recent donation of Mercedes-Benz USA, which recently gave APS $340,000 to support COVID-19 relief efforts. This provides personal protection equipment for our students and employees; supports learning efforts at both Miles Elementary and the Hollis Innovation Academy; and bolsters virtual learning and our Social Emotional Learning efforts across the district.

I also want to call out our partnership with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and the College Football Playoff Foundation to honor teachers who are going the extra yard! During the college football season, some APS teachers will win a $500 Donors Choose gift card via a weekly social media drawing. To enter a name for consideration, post a picture of your favorite APS teacher, tell us why they deserve to win on Twitter or Instagram, mention @apsupdate and use #TagATeacher.

We kicked off this year’s Extra Yard for Teachers program with the foundation awarding a $1,000 DonorsChoose gift card to the teacher with the most funded DonorsChoose projects. Congratulations to Shirley Pendergrass of Hollis Innovation who won with 73 projects! Outstanding job!

Finally, I want to thank the Urban League of Greater Atlanta for joining our Race2Read Challenge, now in its third year. Race2Read aims to erase the literacy gap by uniting schools, families, churches, businesses, and public and private sectors to help increase reading proficiency of APS students.

Race2Read challenges our community to read daily to help collectively reach 10 million minutes of leisure reading so Atlanta becomes the City that Reads!

CBS 46 helped us kick off this year’s Race2Read challenge with a special virtual town hall this week. “An Evening of Enlightenment —Race & Healing: A Community Conversation” moderated by Anchor Shon Gables brought together students and families with community leaders, educators, and prominent authors to address racism, anti-racism, and healing. I joined a panel that included best-selling authors Tiffany Jewell, Jewell Parker Rhodes, and Nic Stone. Watch this event again at and through Facebook and Instagram @CBS46.

That’s “The Week” for this week! Thanks for the engagement and support. Remember to complete this week’s homework assignments: Take the Race2Read challenge and complete your Parent Intent Surveys!

Please BE WELL!

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