Fulton County Schools pivots reopening to all virtual learning

After presenting extensive reopening plans for either in-person or individual remote learning, Fulton County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney pivoted the district's reopening strategy to universal remote learning. (Designed by Isabella Short)
After presenting extensive reopening plans for either in-person or individual remote learning, Fulton County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney pivoted the district's reopening strategy to universal remote learning. (Designed by Isabella Short)

After presenting extensive reopening plans for either in-person or individual remote learning, Fulton County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney pivoted the district's reopening strategy to universal remote learning. (Designed by Isabella Short)

Fulton County Schools will start the school year Aug. 17 in a universal remote learning fashion, per a live video announcement from FCS Superintendent Mike Looney July 16. The announcement comes after presenting extensive reopening plan guidelines and expectations for parents to select either in-person or individual remote learning for their children.

The district's decision follows Atlanta Public Schools' decision July 10 to reopen with all virtual learning for the first nine weeks. FCS will remain in a universal remote learning environment until further notice.

At the time of the first board meeting with reopening options June 9, there were 640 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents in Fulton County, Looney said. As of the latest COVID-19 daily status report from the Georgia Department of Public Health, which was updated July 15 at 3 p.m., there are 1,069 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents of Fulton County, Looney said.

"I have been very clear all along that the reopening of Fulton County Schools was predicated on the level of community spread that our schools would be facing when we resume school," Looney said during the announcement. "Unfortunately, that data continues to move in the wrong direction. I'm resolute in making sure that when we do return to school, that our students and staff members can do so in a safe and effective manner."

Looney cited a rising number of cases in the athletics department as part of the reasoning for pivoting to a universal remote learning option, as athletes resumed practice in small groups earlier this summer. The Georgia High School Association allowed athletic conditioning exercises to begin on June 8, but FCS delayed their opening of conditioning exercises by one week to see more data, according to Looney.


While the GHSA permitted groups of up to 50 athletes to participate in athletic activities, FCS only permitted up to 20 athletes, Looney said—but the number of COVID-19 cases among athletes and coaches has continued to rise.

"Because of this, I have a hard time visualizing if with groups of 20 athletes, we can't safely get together and practice and condition, I'm not sure how we can do school in a safe manner," Looney said. "We are asking [parents] to make preparations for students to be at home [for school] beginning Aug. 17."
By Kara McIntyre
Kara started with Community Impact Newspaper as the summer intern for the south Houston office in June 2018 after graduating with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. She became the reporter for north Houston's Tomball/Magnolia edition in September 2018, moving to Alpharetta in January 2020 after a promotion to be the editor of the Alpharetta/Milton edition, which is Community Impact's first market in Georgia.


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