Incoming Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring led a virtual town hall on June 18 to discuss the 2020-21 school year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Herring laid out three potential scenarios for the Aug. 10 reopening – traditional, virtual, and hybrid – and said a decision guided by public health data would be made by mid-July.

Lisa Herring, the incoming superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, speaks during the June 18 town hall.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of the students, families, and employees,” Herring said, noting that the system would remain flexible as COVID-19 numbers fluctuate.

While some public comments called for a return to regular school, Herring indicated that COVID-19 cases will inform the way APS returns.

Under the traditional model, students would have face-to-face instruction time again at APS facilities. However, there would be required personal protection equipment for staff, limited class sizes, staggered scheduling and temperature checks at the door, and students would be required to wear a mask. Herring said APS would choose that model only if data indicates low or no spread of the virus.

If virus diagnosis numbers remain high, the virtual option would continue online learning for all students and facilities would remain shuttered.

The hybrid model would be implemented if there was minimal to moderate spread of the virus, Herring said. “Hybrid” would mean students are in the classroom some days and learning at home on others.

Herring said parents could choose virtual learning for their students, who would remain enrolled in APS and identified with their home school. The system is also considering an expansion of its APS Virtual Academy, which is currently used for middle and high school students.

APS sent out a survey to parents — which is also open to the community — asking for feedback on the proposed models. The deadline to answer the survey is June 30. It can be accessed in English and Spanish at this link.

A second virtual town hall will be held Monday, June 22, 6:30 p.m. via It will be available in both English and Spanish.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.