FULTON COUNTY, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — In a virtual press conference on July 16, 2020, Fulton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney announced students will not return to their classrooms for the 2020-21 school year, but instead, they will resume their studies remotely from home until further notice.

Looney said virtual classes will start on August 17.

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He called the recent months “unusual trying times,” as he explained how he, the school board and staff members have been doing everything possible to resume school normally.

He briefly recapped the June 9 school board meeting, where members discussed several scenarios about reopening school in August, including a possible one-week delay.

At that time, he said there were 140 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents in Fulton County. Looney said, as of today, there are 1,069 active cases per 100,000 citizens in the county.

He says he has been clear that reopening was contingent upon the level of virus spread the schools would face when when determining if they would re-open, and he said the data is currently moving in the wrong direction. He also indicated how he pleaded with community to mask up and observe social distancing ahead of the new school year in hopes of resuming classes in-person.

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In terms of athletics, Looney said, although the Georgia Athletic Association allowed conditioning exercises to begin on June 8, FCS waited one week before systematically opening up those exercises for athletes, which he says has not gone well.

He said the GAA permits up to 50 athletes to participate in conditioning exercises, and FCS only allows 20. However, he says the number of COVID-19 cases among coaches and athletes continues to rise.

While he says he would rather students engage with teachers in classrooms, he says it’s not safe to do so.

Looney says the school system will engage with the community and take questions at the next school board meeting on July 23.

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He asked the school community to do what they can to stem the spread of the virus in the meantime.