The Cobb School District announced Monday its plan for returning staff to their school buildings in preparation for face-to-face learning.

Students began the school year on August 17 remotely due to the pandemic, but Superintendent Chris Ragsdale recently announced a phased approach to beginning face-to-face learning could be rolled out due to conditions reported by Cobb-Douglas Public Health.

That plan gives students the option of returning to campus on this schedule:

♦ Oct. 5: elementary and special education students

♦ Oct. 19: middle school students

♦ Nov 5: high school students

The school district’s plan for staff, outlined in a 7-page document titled “Face-to-Face Classroom Guidance for Staff,” has all employees returning to campus on this schedule:

♦ Sept. 21: elementary and special education staff

♦ Oct. 5: middle school staff

♦ Oct 22: high school staff

The plan notes that when staff do return, “All safety precautions (symptom screening, sanitizing protocol, social distancing, mandatory masks, etc.) will be in place daily.”

The school district is allowing teachers that are returning to their school on September 21 to bring their school-age children to work. A district representative said that with teachers having only one week prior to their return date, providing additional flexibility is the right thing to do.

Cobb Board of Education Chair Brad Wheeler said the district’s decision to reopen schools was possible given the recent decline in the number and percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus in Cobb County. But he referred questions regarding the staff plan to district administrators.

“Daily operations is not a job description for the board,” Wheeler said. “(Superintendent Chris) Ragsdale and his staff are making those decisions based on what they believe is safe for our students and staff, and he’s getting that from the Cobb-Douglas Public Health Department. … But the board, we’re not involved in those discussions.”

The chair acknowledged some people have reached out expressing concerns for teacher safety, which he said he has forwarded to district administration.

The plan outlines a quarantine process for students and staff should exposure to the coronavirus occur. For instance, if anyone has had close contact with a positive student or employee (defined as less than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) there will be a quarantine period of 14 days.

Among the options employees have if they are concerned about working in the school building are applying for the Family Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In “Face-to-Face Classroom Guidance for Staff,” the district answered some frequently asked questions.

Employees at high risk of becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus are encouraged to meet with a supervisor “to discuss what safeguards are in place, or can be put in place, to maximize safety.” Such employees include, but are not limited to, those undergoing cancer treatment or who suffer from a chronic lung disease, according to the state Department of Public Health.

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