The Fulton County School System says it set an Oct. 14 return to in-person classes a bit sooner than a previously announced two-week review due to a break and a workday in the district’s calendar.

FCS previously said its reopening phases would be based on two-week review of COVID-19 statistics, but the decision to return to face-to-face instruction came 11 days into that cycle. The return to face-to-face instruction five days a week is for students at all schools, though parents can still decide to have their children taught remotely. FCS entered that “phase IV” of its reopening schedule on Oct. 5.

Brian Noyes, director of communications for the district, said Oct. 14 was chosen for two reasons.

“It was a natural break in the calendar,” he said. “Oct 9 is the last day of the first nine weeks of instruction. Oct 14 starts the second next nine-week cycle in the first semester.”

The other reason is that Oct. 13 is a teacher workday. That allows a day dedicated for professional development to prepare them for the adjustment, he said.

The district entered Phase I on Sept. 8, which brought many Pre-K through second-grade students to classrooms for 90 minutes of instruction and special education students for 180 minutes.

Phase II was skipped over to go straight to Phase III on Sept. 21, with a full day of in-person instruction each week for students in every grade level.

Phase IV began on Oct. 5 with students attending in-person for two days per week.

And face-to-face instruction five days per week is scheduled to begin Oct. 14.

Students could remain in Universal Remote Learning through Dec. 18 or come back face-to-face. Decisions for the second semester beginning in 2021 will be made later.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.