Atlanta schools to discuss academic recovery plan amid parent concerns

By Vanessa McCray, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta Public Schools will hold a parent meeting to discuss a three-year plan to help students who have struggled academicallyduring the pandemic.

The virtual meeting — billed as a “parent and community engagement session” — will start at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and can be viewed on the district’s Facebook page. Officials plan to review the academic recovery strategy, which includes a summer program, a new screening tool to gauge math and reading abilities, and intervention periods in the school day.

In a Friday letter to parents, Superintendent Lisa Herring said the approach will help “address the unfinished learning and learning loss our students experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Some parents and students are critical of the plan, in part, because of how it will impact school schedules. Elementary students will spend 30 more minutes in school each day. When school resumes in August, their new schedule will be 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., instead of 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring speaks during  Teacher Appreciation Week at Mays High School in Atlanta Friday, May 7, 2021. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

The high school day will start 45 minutes earlier, at 7:45 a.m. It’s a move the district said was necessary to accommodate transportation needs.

The new schedules surprised many, and an online petition opposing the earlier high school start time had surpassed 2,700 signatures as of Monday. students, parents push back on earlier high school start time

Several Atlanta parent groups are circulating a separate letter asking Herring to rescind the schedule changes until there’s more public input and to give schools flexibility in how they provide academic support, among other requests.

”The pattern of communicating major announcements with no prior engagement with parents, students, local school leaders and teachers is a recipe for distrust and lack of confidence in APS leadership,” reads a draft of the letter.

APS parent Sara Zeigler said more than 500 parents, students, teachers and staff signed the letter within a few hours of it being posted online. The group plans to send the letter to the superintendent Wednesday, ahead of Thursday’s meeting.

Zeigler said representatives from around the district worked together to create the letter.