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A petition on change.org calls for CCSD to reopen schools for in-person learning.

In the week since Cobb Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale announced the academic year would start online only due to the spread of the coronavirus, a petition to reopen schools for face-to-face instruction has garnered thousands of signatures.

Chris Ragsdale MUG

Chris Ragsdale

The change.org petition, created last week by Michael Shelley, calls on Ragsdale to open schools for in-person instruction despite the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Georgia and Cobb County. Ragsdale announced in a July 16 school board meeting that classes will resume online only on Aug. 17, meaning students will start the school year by learning from home. Teachers will either teach from their classrooms or remotely. According to Shelley, parents and families should be able to choose in-person instruction for their students.

“The purpose of this petition is to regain our rights to choose, as parents and taxpayers in Cobb County, GA, to send our children to school utilizing the traditional classroom setting,” Shelley wrote in the petition.

As of Thursday afternoon, over 5,600 signatories backed the petition calling for in-person instruction in Cobb schools, Georgia’s second-largest school district with nearly 113,000 students.

In the petition, Shelley wrote that Ragsdale “arbitrarily made the decision to eliminate the face to face learning option completely.” The petition’s creator outlined his argument for in-person learning, noting that working parents may not be able to instruct students who are learning from home. Shelley also said schools provide safe environments, meals and trained staff, resources that may be unavailable to some students at home.

After the petition received 2,500 signatures, Shelley said he sent a letter to Ragsdale and each Cobb school board member on Monday. In an update to the petition on Thursday morning, Shelley said supporters “have bombarded the superintendent and board members throughout the week (with) this info along with suggestions, ideas, and a willingness to collaborate (with) them to have our choice reinstated.”

Shelley wrote that signatures have come from across the country, and supporters are not limited to Cobb County.

“We urge each of you to reach out yourselves to the superintendent with your complaints and displeasure over his decision,” Shelley wrote in his Thursday morning update. “Whether you or those you know are residents of or parents in Cobb County does not matter; anyone can sign this petition.”

Cobb school board member Randy Scamihorn said he recognizes family concerns and hopes to return to in-person classes, but the decision will be based on recommendations from county and state public health officials.

Randy Scamihorn

Randy Scamihorn

“The safety of the students and the staff is paramount,” Scamihorn said. “I’m keenly aware that we need to get students back in the classroom because many do not learn well virtually … and then, of course secondary, is moms and dads can’t afford tutors and one or the other not getting off work. I’m aware of that too, but we are where we are.”

Marietta City Schools also decided to start the school year online only. In a July 17 board meeting, Superintendent Grant Rivera recommended starting the year virtually on Aug. 4. The Marietta school board voted 6-1 to approve his recommendation. Jen Brock, a spokesperson for Marietta City Schools, said the district wants in-person classes as much as families do, and school leaders are following the dynamic information and data.

Grant Rivera mug

Grant Rivera

“We understand the difficulty and potential hardship that the all-virtual decision places on some of our families but we continue to follow the advice and recommendations of health and science experts for our school reopening plans,” Brock said in an email to the MDJ. “To provide support for both our students, families, and staff, we are actively pursuing daycare partners and options for families who need assistance during the day, and we are also developing an in-person (small, socially distanced) tutoring program.”

Marietta school board member Jason Waters cast the lone dissenting vote during last week’s board meeting. Waters said he believes in giving parents the option of in-person classes, but he respects the decision of the board.

Jason Waters MUG

Jason Waters

“We now have to move forward with the best virtual education that we can provide to our children,” Waters said in an email to the MDJ. “I believe that Marietta City Schools was ahead of other districts in this area in the Spring and, having had the Summer to prepare for the possibility of virtual learning, we are in an even better position (to) deliver virtual instruction.”

Waters hopes the board will receive regular updates from public health officials and that schools will reopen as soon as possible.

Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators, said she has received hundreds of emails from teachers who are terrified of returning to face-to-face instruction too soon. Jackson said teachers love their vocation, and she understands why families may be frustrated with online learning, but right now in-person classes are unsafe.

Connie Jackson.jpg

Connie Jackson

“There are a wide variety of viewpoints and needs for parents and children,” Jackson said. “We all agree that an in-person classroom is the absolute best option for most students. Unfortunately, due to what’s going on with COVID, that option is not the safest and best for teachers and students at this time.”

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(26) comments

Howard Peterson

Kids need to be IN the classroom LEARNING, not at home playing video games or out on the streets causing trouble. Incalculable damage will be done to the kids without classroom mandatory education! Teachers will also wear masks, social distance and it won't hurt any of them to wash their hands 4 or 5 times a day in addition to using hand sanitizer. My hearty congratulations to the originators and signers of the petition mentioned above!

Tony Armst

How can this petition be considered legitimate if it contains signatures from people around the country? Cobb County is not New Haven County, CT is not Wayne County, MI. I am glad that our leaders maintain integrity.

Howard Peterson

Dar, You made the accusation. Now prove it......

Cobb County educators are no more exposed than Cobb County grocery store workers or Cobb County retail store workers. Try Thinking about this!!

Archie Barisol

And what's YOUR level of exposure?! You're certainly cavalier with other people's lives.

Keith Richardson

So few months not in school gonna make all the kids not able to read gotchya!!!!

Archie Barisol

Efforts to pad paltry numbers by encouraging "anyone" to sign the petition demonstrates the desperation of a minority group to seem more significant than they are in an effort to get their way. People, including (I'm sure) commenters on the MDJ, who have no children in Cobb schools, lack standing in the matter and should exercise their right to remain silent. Furthermore, Mr. Ragsdale did not "arbitrarily" make his decision. It was based on the best information available from experts and scientists. It's time for people to get over their "schools are my childcare" attitudes. We're all inconvenienced. But some still can't let go of their entitlement mentalities. You're on the losing side of this one. Deal with it.

Howard Peterson

I repeat: "Kids need to be IN the classroom LEARNING, not at home playing video games or out on the streets causing trouble." Whether I have kids in school or not, I still will have to deal with these "students" who cannot read or write when they become adults. I am NOT on the losing side. The students are if they are not mandated to in-person teaching in a classroom.

Archie Barisol

Translation: I don't have kids in Cobb schools. I just want to be heard.

And your defense for putting people in harm's way is that you might have to "deal with" an illiterate adult? What does that even mean? Aside from the laughable exaggeration that missing a few months of school to get a pandemic under control will lead to a dystopian future with inerudite masses, how would someone like that even remotely impact you, much less irreparably harm your life?

Translation: It won't and it doesn't. I just want to be heard.

Howard Peterson

The science doesn't support the in-person closing of schools. Kids & teachers are no more exposed in schools then they are at the grocery or retail stores. The science of kids contracting the virus is very, very limited. And yes, when Johnny turns 15, can't find a job and he grabs a gun, that may well impact my life and yours too! I don't just want to be heard, I want the kids in school where they belong.

Translation: You have been watching far too much Fake News!!

Archie Barisol

Fake News: (noun; English) Any information which conflicts with how Howard Patterson feels.

And that's the key word, "feels", as the comments you've made speak volumes about how your ideas revolve around what's best for YOU. I really didn't think an argument could be more flimsy than the 'I might one day interact with an illiterate adult' defense, but you certainly topped it with, "...when Johnny turns 15, can't find a job and he grabs a gun, that may well impact my life..." Sheesh. Were you a Drama student at BHS?

And where's the links to your peer-reviewed science research, Dr. Peterson? You'll pardon me if I don't carefully consider the arguments of a person who would seek to compare in-person learning with visiting a retail store... like you really have 35 people packed into a 30' x 30' room for 8 hours a day at Publix. False Narratives ARE Fake News.

I've already indicated that your cavalier attitude with other people's health suggests you don't even have kids in Cobb schools, but I'm going to go one step further and suggest that your Grumpy Old Man attitude lends itself to the idea that you probably take advantage of Cobb's senior exemption and don't even pay school taxes.

All right, Cobb County... you've heard him. Everyone stay off Dr. Peterson's lawn. And he's keeping your Frisbee. You shouldn't be home playing with it, anyways.

Howard Peterson

I stand corrected!! There ARE petition signers from across the country & this petition should have been limited to Cobb County residents! Unfortunately, this petition will not carry the weight that it was intended to do. My apologies for stating otherwise. My opinion has not changed however, kids belong in the classroom!!

Howard Peterson

Archie you asked for science based research well, here it is. Now shut the blank up!! From the CDC as of yesterday:

The best available evidence indicates that COVID-19 poses relatively low risks to school-aged children. Children appear to be at lower risk for contracting COVID-19 compared to adults. To put this in perspective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of July 17, 2020, the United States reported that children and adolescents under 18 years old account for under 7 percent of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths.[5] Although relatively rare, flu-related deaths in children occur every year. From 2004-2005 to 2018-2019, flu-related deaths in children reported to CDC during regular flu seasons ranged from 37 to 187 deaths. During the H1N1pandemic (April 15, 2009 to October 2, 2010), 358 pediatric deaths were reported to CDC. So far in this pandemic, deaths of children are less than in each of the last five flu seasons, with only 64.† Additionally, some children with certain underlying medical conditions, however, are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.*

Scientific studies suggest that COVID-19 transmission among children in schools may be low. International studies that have assessed how readily COVID-19 spreads in schools also reveal low rates of transmission when community transmission is low. Based on current data, the rate of infection among younger school children, and from students to teachers, has been low, especially if proper precautions are followed. There have also been few reports of children being the primary source of COVID-19 transmission among family members.[6],[7],[8] This is consistent with data from both virus and antibody testing, suggesting that children are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 spread in schools or in the community.[9],[10],[11] No studies are conclusive, but the available evidence provides reason to believe that in-person schooling is in the best interest of students, particularly in the context of appropriate mitigation measures similar to those implemented at essential workplaces.

Archie Barisol

Let's begin by acknowledging that the CDC is a federal agency under the direction of a chief executive with clear political objectives to direct schools commensurate with a re-election effort. This direction includes blocking our nation's top infectious-disease official (Dr. Fauci) from testifying before a House committee earlier this year and blocking the CDC Director (Dr. Redfield) from offering testimony this week before a committee that was looking into the reopening of schools which you so selfishly promote. Having stated that, let's look at some phrases in your copy/paste.

"Children APPEAR to be at lower risk..." Appear? "Scientific studies SUGGEST that COVID-19 transmission among children in schools MAY be low." Suggest? May? How could they not know?! Oh... because, "No studies are conclusive". And contrasting COVID-19 to the flu is a false comparison (there's your Fake News, again), because while the flu hits every year with kids in school, kids have been out of school almost exclusively during the pandemic so you couldn't possibly know what transmission would look like. Also, your submitted evidence reveals,"...low rates of (school) transmission when community transmission is low." But community transmission ISN'T low, is it Dr. Peterson? We just hit 4 million cases, with 1 million coming in only the last 15 DAYS. And Cobb is #4 county (#2 in deaths) in the #7 state in the #1 country for COVID-19 cases.

So you've presented a false COVID-flu comparison based on inconclusive studies predicated on inaccurate rates of transmission... from an agency under pressure from a politician who wants to win a contest... as evidence that kids you probably don't have in a school system you might not pay for should endanger their health... so you don't have to potentially be shot by an illiterate person at some point in your theoretical future. That's a humdinger of a logical flow. Maybe your time would be better spent yelling at cars in your retirement community to "SLOW DOWN!".

Howard Peterson

Earlier today, I was Dr. Peterson. Well now, you are Dr. Barisol. I've made my case with the help of the CDC. If you don't like their conclusions then you should down to CDC headquarters & yell at them while I spend my time yelling at cars. Don't forget your "BIDEN FOR PRESIDENT" signs!! LOL!!! LOL!!!!

Archie Barisol

If you call that nonsensical, pearl-clutching rhetoric "making your case", I hope no one's life ever depends on your ability to make and defend a claim.

Howard Peterson

For anyone who agrees with Archie Barisol, please go to the CDC website and read "The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall"!! That includes you Archie!!

richard plent

We all know that was added yesterday after complaints. Don't act dumb.

Howard Peterson

Excuses only satisfy the maker. I guess the CDC was on your liberal side until yesterday eh, Richard??

Archie Barisol

Dr. Birx: 'Still an open question' how rapidly children under 10 spread coronavirus

Today Show: Jul 24th 2020 9:26AM

As the debate continues over whether children should return to school this fall, the coordinator of the White House's coronavirus task force says it's "still an open question" how much children under 10 spread the illness.

"We know that children under 18 are less sick, but there are some that suffer terrible consequences if they have underlying conditions," Dr. Deborah Birx told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Friday. "What I can't tell you for sure despite the South Korea study is whether children under 10 in the United States don't spread the virus the same as children over 10.

"I think that is still an open question that needs to be studied in the United States. We certainly know from other studies that children under 10 do get infected, it's just unclear how rapidly they spread the virus."

In the large study in South Korea referenced by Birx, children younger than 10 were found to transmit the virus less than adults, and those between 10 and 19 were found to spread it as much as adults. However, the study indicated that children under 10 do spread the virus, so the risk is not zero.

**************************************************************************************

Let's do some fast math... Kids enter Kindergarten at 5 and graduate at 18. So for those 13 schools years, only 5 fall under the "do they spread it as fast?" category. The other 8 years (or 61.5% of a kids school career) showed adult level spread in a study of 5,706 people and 59,073 contacts. But it "needs to be studied in the United States". But let's open schools in two weeks. We can build the plane while we're flying it, right?

And who IS this Dr. Birx woman, anyway?! Oh... she's the highly regarded coordinator of the White House's coronavirus task force. So even the people who work for the man pushing to re-open don't know the extent kids could fuel an even greater surge?

But... But... But Dr. Peterson says...

Johanna Williams

"Trans Girls For Trump", Cobb county chapter, fully supports the opening of Cobb county schools and calls on Ragsdale to cease playing politics with our children's education.

richard plent

GA cases highest yet today 4,812. We are in no position to open schools until this is under control and community spread stopped.

Johanna Williams

@Archie Barison

@richard plent aka Sirhc Sivad

-News Flash for Archie & rich/Sirhc-

MSNBC, CNN, & ABC are NOT considered "factual" sources of information. However, all three are considered sources of Fake News.

Archie Barisol

Come up with that one on your own, did ya?

Johanna Williams

@Archie Barisol

No, I did not. Got it from a list of media organizations put out by the "Trans Girls For Trump," which lists various Fake News outlets.

Archie Barisol

Pray tell, Goody Williams, what do you consider a "Real" news source?

Johanna Williams

Pray tell, Archie Bunker, what do you consider a reliable news source? Do share.

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