The Cobb County Board school district reported a spike of over 551 active Covid-19 cases after just three weeks of opening their doors to children for in-person schooling. Now parents are furious. They say they’ve been deceived and have received countless pieces of “misinformation.”
One of the wealthiest counties in Georgia, the Cobb County Board supervises the education of over 112,000 students over 109 total schools. On top of that, teachers and faculty make up for another 7,300.
Parents became enraged after multiple days of entire grades being sent home, exacerbated by the district’s easing of Covid-19 protocols.
According to parents in Cobb County, Ga., they were asked if they preferred online or in-person schooling for upcoming months, and were promised precautions such as Plexiglas dividers, mask mandates, social distancing, and cafeteria capacity limitations, should they choose to send their kids back to school.
Described as a “bait-and-switch,” the parents soon realized that after most parents elected to do in-person schooling, the Cobb County Board significantly relaxed most of the protocols that it had originally promised.
“Every day seems like a series of terrible decisions that we have to make,” one parent told CNN.
Fighting over their kids safety, the Cobb County Board situation has quickly become a microcosm of a global issue, as people across the county debate the safest way to transition back to work and normal daily life.
After the Cobb County Board sent home the entire fifth grade last week, angry parents arrived at East Side Elementary to protest. Standing on opposite ends of the parking lot, counterprotestors demanding to “unmask our kids” showed up to debate the majority of the crowd asking for a return to masks in the classroom.
“I feel like they’re catering to a minority because they’re louder and they’re meaner and they’re not rational,” said Amber OBot, a Cobb County parent. Mother to a 5-year-old attending kindergarten, she told CNN that she is considering having her child wait another year to start school unless Cobb County can get their act together.
Erick Allen, a state representative in Georgia, was stunned to find that the agenda for Thursday’s Cobb County Board meeting did not mention the words “Covid” or “health” once throughout the talking points. Instead, the agenda detailed discussion for the demolition of an inactive middle school and recognitions for Teacher of the Year.
The only response from the school board has come from the email account of Vice Chairman David Banks, in which a retired naval officer and former hospital administrator who introduced himself as “Emery L. of Smyrna Georgia,” wrote that he believed that, “Those pushing the use of masks DO NOT KNOW what they are talking about.”
Angry parents responded to the email full of misinformation and received angry responses leading them to factually incorrect sources such as “Dr. Anthony Fauci paid a Chinese government lab to research Covid-19 and lied to the US Senate about it” and “the vaccines contain toxic chemicals that can ‘penetrate the brain with injury, and infect the entire human body.'”
“It feels like we’re living in a dictatorship with this Cobb County school board,” a parent of two told CNN. “Is this a game with kids’ lives?”
This past Tuesday, East Cobb Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine warned the county that there was a “dramatic rise in pediatric infections.”
On Wednesday, a letter signed by over 240 doctors, physicians, and health officials was sent to the Cobb County Board, outlining their concern that the school district is putting children at risk by not following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for Covid-19 outbreaks.
“The recommendations are that schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students in classrooms wherever possible, combined with indoor mask wearing, to reduce transmission risk,” the letter stated. “Currently our hospitals, ICUs, and clinics are struggling to provide care for the whole community, and with the continued rise in cases our hospitals could become overburdened.”
Sara Cavorley, a mother of five, including one 13-year-old who has a weakened immune system after fighting off a rare form of leukemia, said that she has since taken them all out of school. “I shouldn’t have to choose between my children’s life and school,” she said. “That’s a no-brainer. I choose my kids.”