The Week with Dr. Lisa Herring Week of October 5

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.

Phase II Return + Learn

In this week’s video, we will keep you up to date on our plans and progress for Phase II of Return+Learn. We continue to work from a flexible and determined plan that has always been based on the latest health data and research.

Our plan includes input from our stakeholders, most importantly our employees and families. We know there are differing opinions across families and communities regarding our reopening plan, and we have considered many different voices throughout this process. We truly do acknowledge those opinions and differences. At the same time, we must make decisions in the best interest of Atlanta Public Schools as a whole.

I want to thank our APS parents and the community for the resilience, focus, and patience they’ve shown throughout the first phase of our Return+Learn plan which began on August 24.

I ask for that same commitment as we prepare for Phase II, and I want to assure everyone that we will stay connected with you throughout this process.

I want to encourage all of us to be unified as a school district and as a community to get through this season of pandemic and continue to put our students first.

Based on current COVID-19 health data and because of safety measures and protocols we have in place, we will make a final decision regarding next steps for reopening on October 16th.  We will base our decision on the most up to date public health data. As a reminder, a goal to shift to our hybrid remains guided by the Dept of Public Health data that suggests at less than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14 day period is the indicator to shift. We will be monitoring and posting updates leading up to October 16th

Once the data trends favorably,  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 
  • Students attending Pre-K through 5th -grade classes in traditional APS schools.

At that 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.

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.

Please visit our website at for more information about our instructional models and our reopening plan.

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.

[Parent Intent to Return Forms]

To help us prepare for our Phase II reopening, we need all families to complete the Intent to Return Declaration form by Monday, October 12. Completing this information is an important part of our reopening process, and I want to thank the thousands of families who have already completed the form. But, we still need to hear from ALL of our families by the deadline. The form is available on our homepage at Please complete it today.  

That information will give us an accurate account of students planning to return for in-person instruction. This data is critical in creating schedules, assigning students, and developing plans for the rest of the school semester.

If a parent doesn’t complete the form by the October 12 deadline, the form will default to virtual instruction, meaning your student will remain in the virtual instructional model they are currently in, whether it is with their school or with Atlanta Virtual Academy.

Please help us plan for the rest of the school year by making your decision today.

Georgia PreK Week

Did you know that it’s the 10th year of Georgia Pre-K Week! I had so much fun reading the picture book Behind the Little Red Door” as part of the annual celebration of the state’s prekindergarten program. The book ponders what kind of adventures and environments might exist just beyond a red door as described by Coy Bowles and illustrated by Joanna Davidovich.

In years past, Atlanta Public Schools invited our community, our legislators, and our parents into our schools to participate in Pre-K activities. Amid this season of a pandemic, we cannot open our schools in traditional fashion, but we can still use this week to help our students get excited about reading! And, shine a spotlight on our hardworking Pre-K teachers, students, and families.

I encourage you to take time this week to read a book to our youngest learners. I know they will be so excited to hear you read an exciting story. Taking the time to read to our young learners could spark a lifelong passion for reading in our children.

Use the hashtag #GAPreKWeek to help celebrate our teachers!

That’s “The Week” for this week! Thanks for watching. And, don’t forget, complete your Intent to Return Declaration form by October 12. Have a great week and Please BE WELL!

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