Atlanta Public Schools has made changes to its 2021-22 class schedule after parents and students objected to the original plans.
“I want to thank you for your involvement in our engagement sessions about our Atlanta Public Schools’ three-year academic recovery plan,” Superintendent Lisa Herring said in a June 7 memo sent to parents and guardians and posted to the district’s website. “Your feedback and recommendations were critically important in finalizing the 2021-2022 school year bell schedule to accommodate for additional student learning time.”
Herring announced the changes after both hearing the complaints and using data from a survey the district hosted May 18 through June 7 to gather the public’s comment on the proposed changes. The survey was conducted via emails, virtual town halls and engagement sessions, social media, mainstream media (through announcements on TV, in print and on news outlets' websites) and on the district’s website, said Seth Coleman, a school system spokesman.
The district plans to add 30 minutes to each elementary school day in 2021-22 to address learning loss among those students due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic started in March 2020, the district has spent most of that time in virtual classes and did not switch to in-person instruction, in phases, until late January and early February.
In Herring’s memo, she said elementary schools will switch from a schedule of 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to one of 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., middle schools will go from a schedule of 9:05 a.m. to 4:05 p.m. to one of 9:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. and high schools will shift from a schedule of 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to one of 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
A total of 6,240 individuals participated in the survey, with the breakdown as follows: 3,873 parents or guardians, 974 students, 1,434 employees and 340 community members. The majority of respondents represented Midtown (formerly Grady) and North Atlanta high schools.
Regarding a question about which school schedule option was preferred, including adding 30 minutes to each elementary school day, 72.79% chose Option B, which calls for elementary schools to have class from 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., middle schools to have class from 9:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. and high schools to have class from 8:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
The rest (27.21%) selected Option A, which calls for elementary schools to have class from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., middle schools to have class from 9:05 a.m. to 4:05 p.m. and high schools to have class from 7:45 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.
The district starts the 2021-22 academic year Aug. 5, when it resumes in-person classes with students having the option to take them online.