STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) – Bulloch County Schools is receiving backlash for its response to COVID-19 and the toll it’s having on educators, offering teachers a month to wear blue jeans as cases increase.

An email apparently sent to all employees by Superintendent Charles Wilson Thursday thanked the staff members for all they’re doing for their coworkers and their students.

“Everyone fights their own battles but all of you are angels and heroes to our children and they need you. Please remember that,” Wilson wrote.

He reportedly went on to write, “I talked with principals today and we all agreed that, though it is a small gesture, you would enjoy the liberty of wearing jeans for the next month. So, by all means, please enjoy your jeans throughout the month of September (and the rest of August).”

The email was picked up by a few national news outlets, including “high-end tabloid” The Daily Beast, who reportedly spoke with three teachers in the district. One teacher called the gesture “offensive” and all three said the superintendent hadn’t grasped the severity of the district’s COVID situation.

When asked for comment on the articles, a spokesperson for Bulloch County Schools told WSAV: “The superintendent, nor the school district, responds to cyberbullying.”

The spokesperson doubled down when pressed for a response, saying, “Again, we will not speak to the disinformation of these articles.”

According to the district’s latest COVID report, last week there were 245 cases among the roughly 13,000 students and staff in the district. That accounts for nearly 2% of the district’s population.

Additionally, nearly 17% of students and staff had been identified as close contacts.

The district did respond with the following statement when asked if teacher requests regarding masks had been addressed:

Masks are not mandated in Bulloch County Schools. As part of our High-Spread COVID-19 protocols, masks are more strongly encouraged, signage to encourage masks has been placed throughout our buildings, an inventory of masks are at all buildings for employees and students who request them. Our superintendent and Board of Education have discussed the issue of masks, and they continuously review our protocols for any further mitigation efforts. Feedback from parents and employees about masks has been received and reflects many differing views.

Bulloch County Schools

Under the “High-Spread” protocol, the district can also implement a distance learning plan as needed. Bulloch County Schools already offers a virtual program and online learning for those who are isolated or quarantined.