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Cobb school board to discuss reopening plan, virtual learning

By Kristal Dixon, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

Details about the Cobb County School District’s reopening plan are expected to be discussed Thursday morning at the school board’s monthly virtual meeting.

Board member Charisse Davis said she wants to know more about how the district’s reopening plan will affect students who will continue with virtual learning. She also will ask for an update on the Cobb Teaching and Learning System, the district’s virtual learning platform, and what’s being done to improve the user experience for students and parents.

Davis said she continues to get emails from parents who say they have trouble logging on and accessing the program.

“We often times have the same issues in our own home,” she said of her family.

Board member Dr. Jaha Howard said he wants Superintendent Chris Ragsdale to share more information about his decision to reopen schools on Oct. 5 to kindergarten through fifth-grade students and some kindergarten through 12th grade special education students.

He also wants to discuss what he calls the district’s underwhelming communication strategy to parents and educators during the pandemic and its plan to ensure all students have the technology needed to learn remotely. Cobb has several schools where 5 to 20% of its students aren’t connected to CTLS on any given day, Howard said.

“Some children have been without a device for weeks,” he said. “We’ve also had an untold number of children emotionally disconnected during this pandemic. This is heartbreaking and deserves our full attention.”

Cobb County will begin its phased approach to reopening classrooms Oct. 5 when kindergarten through fifth-grade students will return to face-to-face learning. Special education classes for kindergarten through 12th grade will also have an in-person option in the first phase of the reopening. When classes resume, after-school programs for those students will also be offered.

Phase two, which will bring back sixth- through eighth-grade students, has a tentative start date of Monday, Oct. 19. Ninth- through 12th-grade students are set to return Thursday, Nov. 5.

Thursday’s school board meeting will begin at 10 a.m. and will be live streamed on the district’s website.

Residents who want to speak to the board using Zoom must pre-register by filling out the registration form. The form will be active beginning 40 minutes before the meeting until 10 minutes prior to the 10 a.m. start time or until the maximum number of 15 speakers have registered.

Once you register, you will receive a confirmation email that will provide a Zoom link to the meeting. Speakers will be admitted to the Zoom waiting room and when it’s their time to speak, they will be given a maximum two minutes to speak. Residents review the district guidelines for public comment on CCSD’s website.

Despite criticism of its decision to not broadcast public comment during its live, virtual meeting last month, a school system spokesman said the district will continue its practice of making that part of the meeting available on the district’s website after the meeting ends.

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