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Athens City Schools prepares for virtual students to come back sooner than planned

Acting Superintendent Beth Patton says the main focus over the next few weeks will be organizing middle and high school students' schedules before they come back, so students will have a smooth transition.

Posted: Sep 15, 2020 11:34 PM
Updated: Sep 16, 2020 8:03 AM

Athens City Schools officials say many students who chose to work remotely this school year have changed their minds and want to come back to traditional classrooms. So, they've decided to help them return to normal classes sooner than planned.

Acting Superintendent Beth Patton says the main focus over the next few weeks will be organizing middle and high school students' schedules before they come back, so students will have a smooth transition.

Many parents say they are glad their children will be learning in-person again.

"I know it's a very steep learning curve and it's not the most user-friendly platform, I will say," said parent Erica Unger.

Unger says online learning has been a challenge for students across the district.

"The teachers are professionals and they do this stuff all day, every day, so I know they are going to get more from being at school than being at home," said Unger.

That's why she's excited her two oldest children will be back in the classroom soon.

"My older two kids are in 10th grade and 7th grade, so they are at an age where they can be responsible, they can wash their hands like they are supposed to, they can hopefully keep socially distant," said Unger.

Patton says she has received more than 80 emails from parents asking if their children can come back to traditional school earlier.

"A lot of our parents have gone back to work, a lot of them were working from home, and now, they've transitioned back into the office and they just don't have childcare. They don't have anyone at home to work with the students," said Patton.

Now, the district is allowing elementary students to come back on Sept. 28 and middle and high school students to return on Oct. 6. The original return date was Oct. 19.

"Secondary is starting a little later because the scheduling for all those students to come back into the building takes a little bit longer," said Patton.

Patton says cleaning, such as spraying classrooms and wiping down desks, will be increased. Parents say they trust the district to take care of their children.

"There's nothing like one-on-one learning or being around peers," said parent, Brittany Brown.

"I just hope the district and teachers are transparent and patient and graceful," said Unger.

Patton says virtual students who want to transition back into the classroom don't have to return on the earlier dates. They still have the option to come back on Oct. 19.

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