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story.lead_photo.caption A task force at Fulton Public Schools is working on plans for remote learning. Photo by Olivia Garrett / Fulton Sun.

Last week, Fulton Public Schools parents and staff responded to a survey from the district, letting the schools know what is important to them regarding distance learning and re-entry this fall.

The parent survey, which attempted to gauge comfort levels, received 662 responses.

A question inquiring about returning to in-person classes indicates that many parents aren't totally comfortable returning to school. Though "completely comfortable" was the most popular option on a five-point scale of comfort levels, only 29.5 percent indicated that was how they felt.

Many parents fell somewhere in the middle, but 16.7 percent, said they were not comfortable with in-person classes.

In a similar question, 146 said they were uncertain whether they plan on returning to in-person school. Almost 8 percent, or 51 respondents, said they don't plan on returning.

"In our Return to Learn Plan, there are many steps designed to help staff and students be more comfortable with returning," Karen Snethen said in an email. "The plan should also help parents make the decision on whether to send their kids to school in person or choose the virtual option. Once they see what we are putting in place, they can evaluate and make the best decision for their student(s)."

The district is tentatively expected to release the fall COVID-19 back-to-school plan Friday.

One option available to parents is virtual learning with classes taught by a vendor outside the district. This option is described in an earlier Fulton Sun article, "Fulton Public Schools prepares for upcoming school year" at bit.ly/2OMisfe.

When listing their priorities, 68.7 percent of parents said enhanced cleaning is important. Other measures, like temperature screening and hand-washing and sanitizing measures, were also popular.

On the issue of face masks, 31.6 percent listed available face masks as important, while only 11.3 percent want face masks to be required. The Fulton City Council is currently considering the issue of face masks — members of the public in support of and in opposition to a city mask ordinance spoke at a public forum Tuesday evening.

When it comes to what the district can do to support families, 65.3 percent of families pointed to training on tools like Zoom and Google Classroom, two things that were used widely during the period of distance learning this spring.

The district also wanted parent feedback on transportation. Only 25.3 percent of respondents said they were completely comfortable with bus riding. On a five-point scale, with five representing "completely comfortable" and one representing "not comfortable," 147 parents chose a one or a two.

At the same time, only 68.7 percent of parents said they could provide their own transportation.

When it comes to staff opinions, the district's internal survey came back with similar feedback. The district collected 210 responses to its staff Return to Learn Survey.

Like parents, staff pointed to enhanced cleaning, temperature screenings and hand-washing and sanitizing as important measures. Staff input on mask-wearing was also similar to the views expressed by parents — 27.1 percent support having available face masks, while 18.8 percent support requiring face masks.

Staff survey respondents reported slightly higher comfort levels returning to school than parents — staff results skewed to the more comfortable side. Even so, 19 staff respondents said they were not comfortable returning to school.

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