“We all want it to be normal, we all want our regular life back and I have nothing but sympathy and empathy for the people who do, but we are not living in normal periods,” he told CNN. “And that’s the thing, people are just choosing to live as if it is, until it is impossible to ignore.”
Chambers, who fears the coronavirus will spread throughout the area, which is about 30 minutes north of Atlanta, says he saw this coming. He, along with other district parents, received a letter from Cherokee County School Superintendent Brian Hightower in mid-July announcing a 77-page reopening plan.
“A day later a vote was taken, with limited opportunities for the public to participate,” Chambers said of the vote, which he said was limited to those who were able to show up at the last minute. “When the committee that created the reopening plan was set up, there were no teachers on it and teachers were not given the opportunity to review it before it was published to the public.”
In a statement to CNN on Wednesday, the Cherokee County called the allegations fake.
“Attendance at the meeting in person was open to 90 citizens and was attended by 60, with half of those speaking in public; an additional 6,000 watched the meeting online,” Barbara Jacoby, chief communications officer with Cherokee County, wrote in a statement.
She added, “Two committees, one composed entirely of teachers and staff and one composed of parents, partners (Department of Family and Child Service, local hospital, caregiver home) and staff, contributed to the recommended plan. by Superintendent “.
The Chambers became a well-known local activist after he wrote an open letter to the superintendent that exploded the reopening plan.
“I see little evidence that the guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Health Department were a guiding factor in creating these policies. In fact, your plan seems to be softening or repeatedly ignoring their recommendations altogether. while it seems to envision a ‘better scenario’ when it comes to young people enforcing these changing rules and the ability of teachers to monitor and enforce them, ”wrote Chambers, a game designer.
The plan now in place in schools means students in some schools do not do social distances and some adults do not wear face masks. Chambers believes students who go in person are in danger and is keeping his 10-year-old and 4-year-old at home.
Closed High School
CNN reached out to Superintendent Hightower, who declined to be interviewed. School District Communications Chief Barbara P. Jacoby said, “(O) communication efforts are focused on communicating directly with parents.”
On Tuesday, Hightower told parents Etowah High School in Woodstock would be close to private tutoring, from the end of the day until at least Aug. 31. There have been 14 positive cases of coronavirus at school, he said, with tests awaiting another 15 students. About 294 students and staff were asked to quarantine.
Hightower encouraged people to distance themselves from society and wear masks. “As your Superintendent, I wear a mask whenever I can not socially distance myself. We know all parents do not believe that scientific research shows that masks are useful, but I believe that and I see masks as an important measure to help us keep schools open, “he wrote to his parents.
The search for masks is a decision left to individual schools in Cherokee County. Across Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp has encouraged wearing masks, but ruled out any mandate and says he supports local decision-making.
Just north of Woodstock, Brandy Heath thought sending her fourth and sixth graders back to classes at Freedom Middle and Liberty Elementary in Canton was definitely the best option for their teaching.
“I sent my son to teach face to face because, as every parent knows, school is the best place for our children. Their teachers are educated and they can teach our children things we can not. , “she told CNN.
“However, the second day of school my son said to me, ‘Mom, I’m not feeling safe. “We are not social’s distancing, there are no precautions to be taken to keep us safe,” Heath told CNN about her fourth grade.
As soon as she heard this, Heath, who says she is compromised immune, pulled her children back home to learn at a distance.
“We expected the Cherokee County School District to keep our children safe. To take precautions to ensure their safety. And it is not being done,” she said.
After returning to the Woodstock playground, Jamie Chambers said he sometimes feels like he is fighting for a losing battle. In this deeply conservative part of Georgia, he says politics continues to be put before science, and even some school officials told staff they believe the coronavirus is a hoax, he said.
Some of the parents in the park appeared less concerned about the virus.
“I do not regret sending my children to school,” said a fourth- and fifth-grade mother, who declined to give her name. “They will either get the virus in school or out of school, they can also send it back.”
This story is updated with a statement from the Cherokee County and clarifies that some schools do not have social distance and some adults do not wear face masks according to the district plan.