Georgia teachers protest plan to return to in-person learning

Georgia News

ATLANTA, Ga. (CNN Newsource) – Classes begin online next week for students in Gwinnett County, the biggest school district in Georgia, but officials plan to bring at least some students back to in-person classes by the end of the month.

The plan is raising concerns for some teachers, who are sounding the alarm with protest.

“It seems like standardized test scores matter a whole lot to this county,” protester Brian Westlake said. “But Covid test scores don’t seem to matter enough.”

Teachers honked from inside their cars in Gwinnett County outside of Atlanta this week, in contrast to the protest organized by some parents two weeks ago in the same spot, calling for face to face instruction.

A district spokesperson said their difficult decisions will not be popular with everyone, but say they’re committed to students’ health, safety, and education.

“It seems that they keep making decisions, milquetoast decisions, that placate different parties without considering that we need consistency, and we need bold leadership,” Anthony Downer said.

Toye Powell teaches second grade students, who would be back in the classroom at the end of August, but she says no one has given her any detailed plans of what that looks like.

“I’ll be in the room teaching children on top of also teaching online children today, I actually have three jobs: a mom, a classroom teacher and an online teacher,” Powell said.

Powell’s own children are allowed to go with her to work, which alleviates childcare concerns, but she says it’s not ideal since they have asthma.

About 260 Gwinnett County employees have already tested positive or are in quarantine before school has started. In Cherokee County, at least 260 students and eight teachers at an elementary school tested positive during the first week of school.

Special education teacher Nicole Conway says she loves her job and her students, but these fears are real for her.

“If the students do come back into the building it’s – it’s really like a 90% chance right now that I’m probably going to end up resigning to make sure that my personal babies are safe,” Conway said.

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