GCPS ISC_Gwinnett Schools file photo

Gwinnett County Public Schools students will be back in the classroom on Monday — if their parents opted for in-person learning, that is.

The school system announced on Friday that the district will resume in-person instruction on Monday for students whose families have selected that option.

The district did note that Tuesday, Jan. 26, is a scheduled Digital Learning Day for all students. It is one of four at-home asynchronous learning days this semester that will provide additional planning time for teachers, the district said.

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On Tuesday, meals will be available for curbside pick-up at schools, and, the district will deliver meals along all bus routes countywide, said Sloan Roach, Executive Director of Communications and Media Relations. Roach said families should expect buses to run their routes from approximately 10:45 a.m. to noon, beginning at the first stops on the route.

The district began the spring semester with both in-person and digital learning on Jan. 7. But as COVID numbers in the county increased, which also caused a shortage of teachers who either had COVID-19 or had been in contact with someone who had it, the district went to digital only learning for all students this past week (Jan. 19-22).

The issue of whether students should be back in the classroom was a major topic of debate at the Gwinnett County school board meeting on Thursday.

“Our children were, and are, fortunate enough to attend a fantastic elementary school in our little corner of Gwinnett County where the teachers love them, educate them and make them feel welcome every day,” one parent, Craig Martin, told the school board. “it’s because I care about the well-being of my children, as well as others in Gwinnett County, all of us are made in the image of God remember, that I strongly advocate for our schools to remain open for in-person and face-to-face learning.”

But, one educator, Anthony Downer, pointed to the death of Gwinnett County paraprofessional Maude Jones, who died from COVID-19 earlier this month. It is believed that Jones likely was exposed to the disease at the school she worked in.

“It is time we give teachers the choice to work from home,” he said. “I wish that were a choice our colleague, the late Mrs. Jones had.”

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