Superintendent Dr TerryOatts .jpg

Dr. Terry Oatts

CONYERS — Rockdale County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts announced RCPS will implement a virtual-only instructional model for all students and will not return to brick-and-mortar classrooms for the 2020-21 fall semester. The school year will start Aug. 24 virtually and will remain virtual for the fall semester.

“Our focus for the last few months has been on working diligently to pursue a reopening plan that prioritizes student and staff safety and well-being,” said Oatts. “I commend our staff for their patience, persistence and professionalism as they’ve worked collaboratively to create processes and structures that maximize student and staff safety.

“As superintendent, I recognize and accept that ultimately the safety and well-being of our district’s 20,000-plus students and staff are my responsibility. I’ve always maintained that in planning for reopening our schools, our charge is to minimize as much risk as possible while understanding that, despite our best efforts, we cannot totally eliminate all risk. The issue has always been — can we sufficiently eliminate enough risk.”

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Oatts said that the school system engaged extensively with the school system’s stakeholders before reaching the virtual-only conclusion. He said the trajectory of COVID-19 in Rockdale, the metro area and statewide made it clear that the school system could not sufficiently minimize the risk for students and staff members.

Oatts said the school system “will deploy our substantial digital assets to ensure the continuity of instructional delivery in a virtual format throughout fall semester.”

While fall semester will be virtual-only, Oatts said the school system will work toward a safe reopening for the second semester.

“During this time, we will continue to work vigorously to ensure a safe reopening of schools for second semester,” he said. “At that point, we will be beyond the height of the flu season and what public health experts predict could be a difficult COVID-19 spike or even a second wave mid to late fall. I reserve the discretion to apply all our reopening planning to include the hybrid model and other instructional service delivery options for our second semester reopening, subject to public health conditions.”

“I do not make this decision lightly, but I most definitely make this decision in the interest of student and staff safety and wellbeing and the wellbeing of the community in Rockdale County.”

More details on the 2020-21 fall semester will be coming soon. Check back frequently to

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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Eddie Shirey

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