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Fulton County Schools to Start Virtually on Aug. 17

In a press conference earlier today, Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney announced that Fulton County Schools will begin the 2020-2021 school year using the Universal Remote Learning model. The first day of instruction will be Aug. 17. 

“The data and information from our health partners is overwhelming. This virus is spreading and not slowing down,” said Superintendent Mike Looney. “I was hopeful the direction would change, but it is clear that we must pivot from the Face-to-Face model to the Universal Remote Learning model in order to keep our students, their families, and our staff members safe.”   

In May, Superintendent Looney announced three models the district was developing while monitoring the spread of COVID-19: (1) Face-to-Face instruction with enhanced cleaning and social distancing protocols; (2) Universal Remote Learning; and (3) Blended Learning using a combination of remote and in-person instruction. In June, he announced the district would open with Face-to-Face instruction but allow families to choose a virtual option for their students. He also shared that the district would remain agile and adjust to another model if data warranted a change. 

“Our district is in a situation we never imagined or expected, but moving to Universal Remote Learning is the right thing to do. Keeping our students and employees safe is our top priority,” said Fulton School Board President Julia Bernath. “The School Board has full confidence in Dr. Looney and his decision.”   

“It is important our families know we have been preparing for this scenario,” said Superintendent Looney. “We learned a great deal last spring. We saw what was working and what was not, and we used feedback from our parents, students, and staff to make changes in how instruction would be delivered remotely. There will be more rigor, more accountability, and more support. Teachers also are receiving more training so they can successfully deliver meaningful instruction in a remote environment.”  

As examples, some changes will benefit students and their parents helping at home. The number of online platforms has been streamlined, with ClassLink used as the single sign-on for district software applications and Microsoft Teams used for instruction and communication. Students will follow a predetermined school schedule, and grading and attendance practices will be consistent and recorded. Fulton County Schools will continue to provide digital learning devices for students in grades 3-12, but prekindergarten through second grade will rely heavily on printed learning packets.The district also will share resources with parents for how to help their student at home.  

Other changes will better support teachers and allow more access to educational resources while providing increased opportunities for professional support and sharing of best practices. Teachers will be expected to submit lesson plans for all learning activities, and this will help school leaders provide more guidance and input to teachers needing support. 

Superintendent Looney will present more specific details about Universal Remote Learning at the School Board’s next meeting on Thursday, July 23, as well as share the revised back-to-school plan with the Georgia Department of Education. 

Story updated July 16 at 3:45 p.m.

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