The Cobb County School District shifted to remote learning the week of Jan. 18 due to COVID-19 conditions in the county. Two Cobb educators passed away from the illness the same week, which led some parents and teachers to urge district officials to stick with remote learning for the foreseeable future. However, the district will resume in-person classes the week of Jan. 25. Students who chose remote learning this semester will still be able to learn from home.
A group of Cobb parents and teachers protested the plan ahead of a school board meeting last Thursday. Several spoke at the meeting in hopes of influencing the board and Superintendent Chris Ragsdale.
Connie Jackson is the president of the Cobb County Association of Educators. She pleaded with officials to continue with virtual learning for everyone.
“…for the safety of our staff, for the safety of our students, for the safety of their parents and families,” Jackson said. “We’ve got to get the numbers down so that our people can be healthy and so that no one else dies.”
Cobb County elementary school teacher Justin Julian said teachers should have the option to work virtually.
“I am asking school leadership to meet the needs of all team members that Cobb County staff and educators are provided the same choice that our parents were provided,” Julian said. “We can fulfill our job requirements either virtually or face to face.”
Teacher Anna Clay thanked the district for switching to remote learning during the week of Jan. 18 and for letting teachers know in advance. She also asked for more information on the decision to resume in-person classes.
“By all indicators, we are in a worse COVID situation than we are than we were last week,” Clay said. “So how can we feel safe returning on Monday? How can we feel confident that decisions are being made based on data if we are not told which data points are being used in the decision-making process?”
COVID-19 plans weren’t on the board’s meeting agenda and officials didn’t discuss it after the public comment portion of Thursday’s meeting.
A spokesperson for the Cobb County School District sent WABE the following statement on reopening:
“Every member of our school community has been impacted by the ongoing battle against COVID-19. We appreciate the feedback we have received from every student, teacher, and parent. Just like everyone in our community, we are also ready for COVID-19 to no longer impact our classrooms.
Until that time, we will continue to follow the guidance of public health experts and remain committed to keeping our schools open both remotely and face-to-face.”