Cobb school Superintendent Chris Ragsdale has announced the district plans a return to in-person classes on Aug. 3, the first scheduled day of school. Families will also have the option to attend school virtually.

So far, there are no plans to alter the school calendar, he said, addressing the Cobb school board on Thursday morning. But Ragsdale said plans are “subject to change,” based on health officials’ guidance.

“Currently, we will not be conducting a hybrid schedule,” he said, referring to staggered schedules where some students report to school buildings on designated days and others report on different days. “However, we will be offering a remote option for parents that are not comfortable seeing their kids back to a face-to-face instructional model.”

District officials say families who wish to attend school online will have to register for the virtual option and commit to at least a full semester.

Families will have to register for virtual school between July 2 and July 10, through the district’s ParentVUE Portal. Students new to Cobb will have to register as a student first, by visiting www.cobbk12.org/aboutccsd/enrollment.

The superintendent said teachers will either be responsible for online classes or in-person classes, but not both.

For families who choose to send their students back to school in person, Ragsdale said the district is asking for families’ help in ensuring their students aren’t coming to school sick or with a fever for any reason.

“We need to have people take this seriously, but at the same time we have to have school,” he said.

Ragsdale said measures to be implemented by the return to class include temperature checks, ramped up sanitation, potentially limited visitation in schools and installation of additional sneeze guards. Students and staff will be strongly encouraged to wear masks, but will not be required to do so, except in cases where health officials have required it — for example for food service staff. Social distancing will be enforced “whenever possible,” the district says.

When COVID-19 forced school building closures beginning March 16, Cobb schools shortly after announced a suspension of attendance incentives for students. Ragsdale said those suspensions will continue for students and staff in the new school year.

Ragsdale also noted that substitute teachers would be “vitally important” in a school year where staff and students alike may miss more school than normal. The superintendent said the district always struggles to staff enough substitute teachers, and the upcoming school year will be no different.

But to school board member Charisse Davis’ suggestion that the district may consider paying substitutes more to attract them, Ragsdale predicted it was unlikely and pointed to the impending statewide budget cuts and last year’s raises for all staff, which included subs.

Davis also expressed concern for bus drivers upon return to school, many of whom she said are retirees or generally older residents who may be at higher risk for complication of COVID-19.

Ragsdale said additional measures will be implemented to protect them.

He said many of the specifics for how the school will carry out its new processes and procedures are still being developed.

“We will continue to be in regular discussion with state and public health officials as their guidance is updated. We look forward to your input and appreciate your support as we support learning for every student in Cobb County during these unpredictable times,” a news release from Cobb schools said.

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