The DeKalb County School District has announced staggered dates to return to in-person learning in January if COVID-19 positivity rates remain at certain levels.

Staff could return as soon as Jan. 4, and some students as soon as Jan. 19, the date classes are scheduled to resume after winter break.

Previously, DCSD officials said they wouldn’t return to face-to-face learning until the countywide COVID-19 diagnoses dropped below 100 cases per 100,000 people for 14 straight days. As of Dec. 13 those numbers were 373 cases per 100,000 people.

But at a Dec. 14 town hall meeting, Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris said the district is planning to allow staff to return to school when there is a 10% positivity rate for two weeks. They would be teaching remotely at that point.

The school district had no comment about the new dates., said Carla Parker, communications specialist.

As of the dates Nov. 26 through Dec. 9, the positivity rate was 10%, according to Eric Nickens, spokesman for the DeKalb County Board of Health.

If  the positivity rate is between 8% and 10% Jan. 19, students in Pre-K; kindergarten through second grade can return, along with sixth- and ninth-graders.

The remaining grade levels will phase-in on Jan. 25 if the positivity rate is between 5% and 8%, following a hybrid model of the school district’s plan.

The district will follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on mask-wearing, social distancing, hand-washing and cleaning and disinfecting.

The district will continuously monitor current COVID-19 data and assess the level of spread to determine if and when the current learning model should be adjusted, according to its website. The next assessments will be presented during upcoming board meetings.

Holly R. Price

Holly R. Price is a freelance writer based in metro Atlanta.