COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Georgia’s second largest school district rolled out a new website to give families an overview of its reopening plan, but several parents and teachers are frustrated because they say it lacks real answers.
Parents can choose between face-to-face or remote learning for their children.
Numerous parents, including the Edwards family of East Cobb, argue the school district has not cited specific protocols or procedures for numerous items including scheduling, classroom set-ups, or what schools will do if there’s an outbreak.
“We want our children to go back to school. We really do, but we also want to go in feeling like everything possible has been done to keep both the staff and the student safe,” said Beth Edwards.
Beth is a former Cobb County teacher. She and her husband, John, have three children in the Walton High School cluster.
John Edwards sent an email on July 12th to Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and members of the Cobb County school board.
“If you and the board are convinced that your safety measures are sufficient for our children and teachers, I challenge you to spend two full school weeks sitting in the same classroom as our children, following the same protocols. I look forward to your answer,” Edwards wrote.
Edwards told Channel 2′s Chris Jose he heard from board members Charisse Davis and Jaha Howard.
Jose reached out to the board members and the superintendent on Wednesday.
Davis called Jose and told him that she “shares the frustration and concern” of parents and teachers.
Davis is not only a board member, she’s also a mother, and told Jose she doesn’t know if she’ll send her kids back yet either.
School board members Brad Wheeler and Randy Scamihorn also replied to Jose via email. Here are their responses:
“Yes, I have read his email. I would like to accept this however I have prior commitments which would prevent this. If our schools are not safe to attend, then we should not be opening them,” Wheeler wrote.
“First, let me say that I do empathize with this father’s concern. Parents are and should be passionate about their children’s welfare. My own daughter is a teacher in Cobb County School System and her health is extremely important to me. She plans to return to school and will gladly wear a mask and do whatever else is requested of her to keep her students safe.
“Because I do not work full-time (except for the School Board), I would be happy to sit in a classroom all day for however long I can, but not everyone has that available time. That’s of course subject to rules and policies of the District, because I’m not sure if that is allowed right now. Of course, in the current climate, I’m sure there will be parents who say, “Why can’t I sit in the classroom?” Parents aren’t allowed to come in school as before due to added measures to protect the students. Along these lines, let me add that each board member is present at the commencement ceremonies for their high schools, as I was last night. I wore a mask except when on stage with appropriate distancing, but when I mingled with guests, some had masks and some didn’t.
“In summary, I assure you that I do care about the students. I care about their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Unfortunately, there are no clear-cut answers that will 100% satisfy everyone’s needs and wishes. I have been inundated with e-mails for and against masks, for and against virtual learning with cited scientific and medical references supporting both viewpoints. I believe Mr. Ragsdale is doing his best to consider everyone’s concerns, based upon extensive research, and allowing for as much choice as possible. Some individual needs will be handled on a case by case basis.
“I hope that we can come to the best results possible for the students, the teachers and staff, and parents without personal attacks which serve no purpose other than to sow division,” Scamihorn said.
Teachers, parents and students will protest the school district’s reopening plan on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Larry Bell Park in Marietta.
Organizers say the group will march to district headquarters ahead of a 7 p.m. school board meeting.
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