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Parents gather to protest Lowndes Co. BOE, seek change and options

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 6:48 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - A group of parents was advocating Wednesday for change in the Lowndes County Schools’ COVID-19 guidelines.

The parents want masks or different learning options.

Signs were held up saying “No Mask No Class,” “Options” and “Protect Our Future.”

Members of CLASS gathered to protest against the school board COVID guidelines.
Members of CLASS gathered to protest against the school board COVID guidelines.(WALB)

The group of peaceful protesters from the Facebook group CLASS, or Citizens of Lowndes Advocates for Safety of Students, gathered on Norman Drive, hoping to have their voices heard.

Cristina Rodriguez is a parent of two students, she said the district hasn’t done enough to protect them.

“Unfortunately, we feel they haven’t provided us enough options. They are going off, based on very old public health information that was created before school started,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said that with the rise in cases, they want the school system to revise its plans with the public’s input.

“So my children, they speak up and they told me, ‘Hey mom, we recently noticed last week, most of our class had masks.’ And with the new Lowndes County policy, even those with direct exposure can go to school with masks on. So that’s kind of alarming because if they are in direct contact, that means they can have it and we wouldn’t know because testing isn’t required anymore,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said her children go to school masked up but still fear for their safety and others.

“I don’t like that their main topic of conversation is who in the school of their friends has COVID or which teacher is not present and wondering why. It’s not a good world they’re living in right now, it’s really scary,” said Rodriguez.

Some of the parents that have reached out said their child was asymptomatic and then days later, their whole home testes positive.

Dorothy Ellis, a mom of triplets, said her whole family tested positive after one of her daughters got sick first.

Ellis was in quarantine the last time we spoke with her. Since then, she has withdrawn her children from school and they’re now being homeschooled.

“We just did not want to expose them any more than we had to,” said Ellis.

The CLASS group has gained a lot of supporters online. Those who were present at Wednesday’s assembly said they’re speaking up on behalf of all concerned parents.

WALB News 10 reached out to the school board for comment.

The assistant superintendent released the following statement on behalf of the school system:

“We respect the right to protest and appreciate that this protest was held peacefully. We take into consideration feedback from our parents, the guidance issued by DPH, DPH-issued community data, and our internal data collection to make operational decisions regarding educating our students while providing a safe learning environment. We appreciate the input of parents and community members and take their concerns seriously.”

Members of CLASS gathered to protest against the school board COVID guidelines.
Members of CLASS gathered to protest against the school board COVID guidelines.(WALB)

Hundreds of people have signed petitions online, a list was given to school officials Wednesday.

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