Dr. Mike Looney

Fulton County superintendent Mike Looney speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for Crabapple Middle School’s new campus off Woodstock Road.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Fulton County School System is phasing in its return to in-person learning in four optional phases, the first of which began Sept. 8.

According to the school district’s website, Phase 1 is a voluntary opportunity for students in pre-kindergarten through second grade to receive one 90-minute instruction and support session, one day per week. All students in grades three through 12 will have the opportunity to receive additional support during Phase 1 by scheduling individualized meetings with their teachers on days, and during hours, that will be shared.

Fulton County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney said he would like to see students return to all in-person learning by “sometime in October,” but that goal depends on the number of cases of COVID-19 reported in the county.

“I’m very proud of the Fulton County community as a whole. Our numbers continue to decline,” he said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re going to beat all the hurdles we need to beat in order to get back to face-to-face instruction.”

The district has taken a number of precautions to ensure the safety of students and teachers during Phase 1, including requiring students to wear masks, checking their temperatures throughout the day and practicing social distancing.

Looney said the school system has a plan in place to make sure students don’t fall behind academically while learning virtually, starting with virtual summer schooling that took place over the summer.

“We’re going to be doing some informal assessments of our students when we do return to face-to-face instruction to determine where they are relative to where we had hoped they would be. And then we would begin shoring up any kind of learning deficits that exist,” he said. “It’s not going to be something we can resolve in a month or two. It’s going to be over the course of not only this school year but next school year.”

Looney said the district has been successful so far in its goal of ensuring that Fulton County students “have less to make up than their peers from other school districts in the state and country.”

A detailed look at Phase 1 of the reopening plan can be found at www.fultonschools.org/phase1. Weekly reports on COVID-19 cases in the school district can be found at www.fultonschools.org/coronavirusreport.

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