return to school

DUNWOODY, Ga. — The Dunwoody City Council threw its support behind a plan by DeKalb County Schools that will establish new guidelines for returning students to classrooms.

At its Dec. 14 meeting, the council heard a report from Mayor Lynn Deutsch, who had been notified that school officials were considering the plan that same night.

Deutsch said school officials had lowered the bar for offering in-person instruction so long as the positivity rate for COVID-19 remained at or below 10 percent of the county’s population.

“From the information that I have been sent, it looks like the first group back would be kindergarten through second grade and grades six through nine, if the parents chose to do so,” she said. “If it drops further to 8 to 10 percent, the rest will be given the option to return to the classroom.”

DeKalb School District 1 Board Member Stan Jester joined the meeting online and confirmed details of the board’s decision. But, he said, half of the parents who had been polled, along with the majority of the district’s teachers, were against a second semester return.

“A letter or a resolution of support would be greatly appreciated,” Jester said, adding that teachers would not be given the choice of whether to return, although accommodations may be given in special cases.

The mayor, joined by several council members, offered support for the new guidelines.

“Every other district around us has returned,” Councilman John Heneghan said. “This is a step in the right direction.”

“Kids need to have the option to return,” Councilwoman Stacey Harris said. “The GHSA (Georgia State High School Association) says you can wrestle, but you can’t shake hands with your opponent. DeKalb needs to have a plan. Right now, they have no plan.”

The council supported Deutsch’s plan to write a letter in support of the return to in-person learning.

In other matters at the council meeting, officials held a public hearing regarding a change in zoning that would allow for a secondary school to occupy space at 301 and 303 Perimeter Center North.

However, according to the owner’s representatives, the rezoning from OCR (office-commercial-residential) to PC-2 (Perimeter Center 2) is just the first step in the process, and a lease for that property has yet to be signed.

“We are not solidified as to a tenant, and we are in discussions with several institutions,” Henry Bailey, the counsel representing Perimeter Sterling Properties, said. “I can tell you that this will probably be a for-profit college or graduate-level school.”

Cathy covers local government and community news for the Dunwoody area.

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