Gwinnett County Public Schools will give families two options for the fall 2020 semester: have their children attend classes in-person, or have them participate in digital learning instead.
Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks had indicated last week that the school system was leaning in that direction, but held out the caveat of that being “if possible” and pending feedback from a survey that closed last week. The COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic caused the school system to move to digital learning for the second half of the spring 2020 semester.
On Thursday, district officials confirmed plans to have students back in the classroom when the school year begins Aug. 5. The catch is that there will be an alternative option to have a child do digital learning for the fall semester instead. Families have to make that decision early in July.
“Students will attend school based on the option chosen for all of first semester (through December),” district officials said in a statement. “A change may be made after the first nine weeks, if it is needed to better serve the student.
“On Monday, June 29, an email will be sent to the enrolling parent of every GCPS student. That parent will be asked to select one of the two options for each student in the home. Decisions must be made by July 10. Students in families who do not select an option by July 10 will be assigned to in-person instruction. Families will receive verification of their selection for each child.”
The plan announced Thursday came after a survey conducted by the district showed no option for instructing students in the fall had more than 50% support from families in the school district.
The survey, which ended last week, showed only 43% of families preferred in-class-only instruction while another 34% of families preferred digital learning-only instruction. The district said 23% of families preferred a mixture of in-person and digital learning.
“Gwinnett County Public Schools considered this feedback and other relevant information available at the time,” district officials said in a statement. “Leaders thoroughly studied combining in-person and digital learning. The many challenges related to this option make it one the school system cannot effectively manage with existing resources.
“Therefore, it was determined that the most prudent course of action is to open the school year with in-person instruction, along with an option for digital learning, for students in grades K-12.”