The Week with Dr. Lisa Herring Week of September 28

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.

In this week’s video, we will share with you continued plans relative to Phase II of Return+Learn. As superintendent, I feel it is important that you understand that we recognize the different positions of our communities, our families, our students, and especially our staff.

In an effort to consider what Phase II might look like for APS, it’s important to note that multiple variables remain in front of us to make these very serious decisions.

As we prepare to share with you different components of Phase II, we stay connected with families who wish to stay virtual. We also recognize that there are families who have the capacity to consider face-to-face.

Just as importantly, we are making certain that our staff, our students, and our schools are ready to receive individuals regardless of what options they select.

The pandemic has not gone way. It is still Mission Critical.

And every decision is grounded in the science of the public health data that will continue to guide us.

Today, I have important updates about our proposed Return+Learn plan to start bringing students back for face-to-face instruction. Plus, we have a critical homework assignment for all of our families.

First, the Return+Learn updates!

As we move into Phase II and later stages of Return+Learn, we are providing students and families with three instructional model options.

First, we have the Virtual Instructional Model, which is currently in place and is designed for families who don’t feel comfortable sending their children back to school but plan to remain with their current school for the rest of the school year.

Second, we have in-person instruction in our schools, which is designed for our families who feel comfortable with returning their students to a face-to-face, in-school environment.

Third, we offer virtual instruction through Atlanta Virtual Academy and Atlanta Virtual Academy Jr., which is designed for our families who wish for their students to remain in a virtual environment regardless of how we shift delivery models at our local schools.

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 
  • Some of our elementary students in traditional APS schools.

At this time, we plan to allow students whose families are comfortable with face-to-face teaching and learning to come for four days of in-person instruction each week. All other students would remain in virtual instruction either in their home school or Atlanta Virtual Academy.

For more details about each instructional model, please visit

Of course, all of these proposed models and timelines remain 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.

And now for your homework assignment. We need to know which instructional models each of our families want for their students for the rest of the school semester. This week, we sent an Intent to Return Declaration form to every family. You can also access it at:

We need all of our families to complete the form so that we have accurate numbers about students planning a return to in-person instruction as their primary option. This data is critical in creating schedules, assigning students, and developing plans for the rest of the school semester.

The form defaults to virtual instruction; therefore, if a parent declines to fill out the form before the October 12 deadline, the form will indicate your student will remain in the virtual instructional model they are currently participating, whether it is with their school or with Atlanta Virtual Academy.

So please make your decision now and help us plan for the rest of the school year.

That’s “The Week” for this week! Thanks for the engagement and support. Remember you have an October 12 deadline to complete your homework assignment: the Intent to Return Declaration form!

Please BE WELL!

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