Parents express concerns over lack of learning options, mandates at Lowndes Co. Schools
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - A group of parents is calling out Lowndes County Schools.
They say their kids are not being protected against COVID-19 and other learning options should be available.
“It’s like playing Russian roulette with your child’s life and I can’t stand by for that,” said Teneeshia Foster, who has a daughter in fifth grade.
She started an online petition to make a change after having a COVID scare with her daughter and losing a family member to the virus the same day. Foster is Rashida Kimmons’ cousin.
“We want options. Options for parents to decide what they want to do and what’s best for their child. Lowndes County school system didn’t give birth to my child, I did,” said Foster.
Foster said her daughter is scared, and she doesn’t want to go to school.
She says students wearing masks are being bullied and it’s happening across all grades.
Father of three, a kindergartener and two middle schoolers, Chris Schacht said they wear masks to school.
His oldest is vaccinated, but that’s just one piece of the safety puzzle.
“All the counties around us, all the areas surrounding us are making moves to protect the kids,” said Schacht.
Schacht said he’s tried to reach out to the school board but nothing.
“It’s terrifying for my 5-year-old, my 5-year-old is not wanting to go to school because he is afraid of COVID and everything he is seeing,” said Schacht.
Amanda Bushey, mother of a first and second grader, said parents are not the only ones concerned.
“The teachers and principals who are willing to speak about it are just as frustrated as the parents. They are seeing the effects it’s having not just on their schools and staff, but also in the community as a whole,” said Bushey.
Bushey said her daughter is afraid to sit close to classmates not wearing a mask, like she is.
“They are exposing each other. Those students are taking it home to families and it’s going back out to the community. It’s a mess,” said Bushey.
That’s what happened to Dorothy Ellis, a mother of triplets in kindergarten.
She joined the parents in the parking lot and held up signs.
One of her kid’s got COVID in school, from a student sitting nearby coughing without a mask.
“We are now a family of five, all have COVID because one child could not be bothered to wear a mask,” said Ellis.
Parents say they’re concerned schools have the option to allow students who test positive, return to class as long as they wear a mask during the quarantine period.
“It’s obviously very important that our children continue to learn, as we have seen they have fallen behind but it really doesn’t matter though if they’re not healthy enough to learn,” said Bushey.
The school district shared the following statement on the matter:
“On August 2, 2021, the Georgia Department of Public Health issued an amended administrative order signed by Dr. Kathleen Toomey, Commissioner, State Health Officer providing the following guidance for schools, ‘recognizing the importance of in-person learning, schools may elect to adhere to different quarantine requirements as developed by the local school district to facilitate in-person learning. Individuals subject to quarantine may only adhere to such different quarantine requirements as long as the point of exposure occurred in the school setting and as long as they remain asymptomatic.’
We concur with the Department of Public Health’s order recognizing the importance of face-to-face learning and will continue to diligently monitor the impact of COVID-19 in our buildings. After reviewing early data from our COVID-19 reporting system for school exposures, we have identified that a low percentage of students are testing positive for COVID-19 based on school exposure. Students currently receive temporary virtual instruction while isolated or quarantined to mitigate learning loss. It is crucial to continue providing traditional school for our students who are healthy while making sure those who are isolated due to a positive COVID-19 test or quarantine continue to receive instructional support.”
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