Georgia Democrats, educators, slam Trump and Kemp’s reckless push to reopen schools

August 11, 2020

Last week, Trump continued to lie about the threat of coronavirus to children as he pushed schools to reopen without putting in place comprehensive guidelines that would allow them to reopen safely. Medical experts, educators, and parents have repeatedly sounded the alarm on Trump risking children’s health and safety, but he’s ignored them — as more and more children are getting infected. And now, Brian Kemp has ruled out ordering public school systems to impose mask mandates for returning students and teachers, leaving it up to the individual schools.

Yesterday, Georgia Democrats and education leaders, including Amy Westmoreland, a former school nurse in Paulding County who recently resigned due to concerns about coronavirus, slammed Trump and Kemp for their reckless reopening push, which has caused outbreaks in Georgia schools and put teachers, students and faculty at risk. More below:

AJC:  Democrats were sharply critical of Kemp’s school policy. State Rep. Beth Moore, who has been soliciting anonymous tips from students, parent and faculty, said Republicans have been “doubling down and making it worse.“ ”The adults in the room where decisions are made aren’t taking this virus seriously — and the people who will suffer from this are our teachers, children and their families,” said Moore, a Democrat from Peachtree Corners.

Georgia Recorder: State Democrats blamed Kemp and President Donald Trump for the schools’ troubles, saying their push to reopen businesses worsened the spread of COVID-19 in the state. “We know that it did not have to be this bad,” said state Sen. Nikema Williams, who also chairs the Georgia Democratic Party. “Back when this pandemic started, Donald Trump and Brian Kemp were warned by public health experts and doctors that without serious action, we would lose safe, in-person schooling in the fall, but instead of reopening schools in August, Brian Kemp reopened bars and bowling alleys in May.”

Associated Press: “It’s so risky and our caseload is not being effectively managed, that there is just no way right now that we can sensibly open schools for in-person instruction,” said Gwinnett County school board member Everton Blair, a Democrat. “Then you see evidence of the very same thing in counties across the state, where immediately, the first day that they open, they’re immediately quarantined.” […] Georgia state Rep. Beth Moore, a Peachtree Corners Democrat, set up an email address for anonymous complaints and said she’s gotten hundreds, mostly from teachers. She said too many principals, superintendents and school board members are “not taking this seriously.” “The people that will suffer from this are the people we should hold near and dear to us, which is our teachers and our children,” Moore said.

Valdosta Daily Times (CNHI): Democrats have slammed Kemp for reopening schools for in-person instruction. State Rep. Beth Moore, D-Peachtree Corners, said she has set up an email address where teachers and students can anonymously submit testimonials about conditions within their schools. “Teachers and students across the state are experiencing unsafe conditions in their schools, but leadership hasn’t been listening, and often has been doubling down and making it worse,” she said. “Since Friday night, I’ve received hundreds of emails from teachers, students and parents who are terrified.” Amy Westmoreland, a former Paulding County public schools nurse, resigned over how coronavirus is being handled in the education system.  “As a nurse, I’ve seen firsthand how illnesses spread in the school system, and I know it is not safe to reopen schools in person — especially when staff, students and teachers were not going to be given proper PPE, or be able to safely practice social distancing,” Westmoreland said. “Our children are not safe.”

CNN: During a virtual news conference hosted by the Georgia Democrats, Rep. Beth Moore said she posted a video on her social media on Friday asking teachers, students, and school administrators to anonymously send their concerns related to school reopening in the state.
[…] “I’ve been receiving emails from teachers in dozens of different school districts. From Fulton County, to Cherokee, to Paulding, to Gilmer counties. I think the theme that is emerging from these messages is that teachers are fearful of whistleblowing,” Rep. Moore said.
She read a portion of an email from a high school English teacher in Forsyth County, Georgia who was concerned about class size. Rep. Moore said the email read, in part, “every class, I teach 5, has 30 to 31 students, except for one that has 33. No masks are required. I am scared to death.”

Atlanta Daily World:  “Students haven’t even gone back to school yet, but COVID-19 is already surging in the Gwinnett School system and Georgia schools due to Donald Trump and Brian Kemp’s failed leadership,” said Maggie Chambers, communications director for the Democratic Party of Georgia. “This crisis has only gotten worse for our schools and our families because our leaders refuse to listen to public health experts. It’s beyond time to stop playing politics, and start doing the work to help schools reopen safely.”


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