Jefferson, a Small Georgia City, Plans to Reopen Schools
By: Rhea Agrawal
Jefferson, a small Georgia city northeast of Atlanta, plans to reopen their schools for in-person classes this Friday, amidst the surging number of cases of coronavirus, and is not requiring students or faculty to wear a mask.
Although thousands of citizens of the state of Georgia have tested positive for COVID-19, Jefferson still plans to open its city’s schools, while other school districts around Georgia have delayed their openings or switched to distance learning. Additionally, the school officials announced that they encouraged students and teachers to wear a mask, but the choice to wear one was completely optional.
The high school chairs of departments met on July 15 and created guidelines for how they would try and keep their students at lower risk. Masks would be required on school buses, hallways would be marked so students could walk on the right sides, and any student showing symptoms of the virus would be sent to an “isolation room.” “Teachers cannot require students to wear masks in their classroom,” the department decided, though they also encourage teachers to “make masks the culture.”
The city is primarily pro-Trump and is by the President’s side as he continuously downplays the gravity of the virus. As a result, many citizens are not as worried about contracting the dangerous virus, even as Georgia has seen a 42 percent rise in cases, with an average of 3,287 positive cases per day.
“My kids have been to baseball, wrestling and cheerleading practices,”a resident wrote recently. “We have been out to eat and shopping. Yes I will be taking precautions but locking my kids up and making sure they are 6ft from their friends is ridiculous. What about their mental health. It’s not normal for children to have no interactions.”
Many are tired of staying at home and having social distancing guidelines restrict them. The prospect of having to return to online school for the new school year is causing concern because of the potential harmful effects it could have on children. Online school has affected many students’ education, and it has also had a mental toll because children are not able to see their friends or anyone else as they normally would. In addition, working parents will face problems with taking care of their children if school is switched back to remote learning for the fall.
Dr. Donna McMullan, the district’s superintendent, said that only two percent of students have chosen the at home learning option. The students who have decided to stay at home have two options: education from a private company or education from a state company.