Petitions target Cobb County school opening plans

The logo on front of a Cobb County School District facilityCobb County School District sign (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

UPDATE: A third petition came to our attention, and has been added.

As the Cobb County School Board covenes a special called meeting this afternoon, at least two petitions have been circulating on social media regarding the scheduled reopening of the Cobb County School District in the middle of a surge of COVID-19 cases in Cobb County.

One petition is entitled Demand Cobb School Board Address Inequity & Concerns In Reopening Schools Amidst COVID-19.

The petition has 1,202 signatures as of this writing.

Millicent Phinizy, who wrote the petition along with a team of educators and parents in the Pebblebrook Cluster, wrote in a text to the Courier, “As of 10pm last night the decision window has also been postoned. We consider this a small victory as well seeing as how it was one of our demands.”

The petition, which you can visit by following this link, states:

Parents are being asked to decide between in-person and virtual learning settings for the fall semester of 2020 without sufficient information to use in making this all important decision. Similarly teachers have been asked to state their intent to return to school, take FMLA, retire, or resign without knowing what is being expected of them for fall. Inequitable access to resources disproportionately impacts low SES families and marginalized groups thereby eliminating the privilege of “choice”.  In light of these concerns we are demanding the following action from the CCSD school board:

  1. Open the July 16th Board Meeting up for public commentary.
  2. Push back the decision date for parents and teachers to July 17th.
  3. Push back the school start date to August 10th to allow for proper planning and preparation. 
  4. Provide a descriptive plan for how schools will follow CDC guidelines for keeping staff and students safe during in-person learning.
  5. Provide a descriptive plan for how virtual learning will be structured.
  6. Provide a descriptive plan for the delivery of Special Education Services, 504 Supports, RTI Interventions, and Gifted Education through the virtual platform.
  7. Provide a contingency plan for students or teachers in school who contract or are exposed to COVID-19 and need to be quarantined. 
  8. Describe how teachers will be selected for virtual vs. in-person learning.
  9. Send a follow-up survey to parents choosing in-person learning to ask if barriers prevented them from choosing virtual.
  10. Provide low-income students access to technology, internet, meals, and resources if they would like to choose virtual.

The second petition deals specifically with safety requirements in opening for face-to-face classrooms during a pandemic, and is entitled “Make masks part of the Cobb County School Dress Code.”

It has 402 signatures as of this writing, and can be viewed by following this link:

This petition states:

The general provisions of the Cobb County School Dress Code state that “All students shall be required to maintain the level of personal hygiene necessary to ensure a healthful school environment…”.* 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that masks be worn “in areas of significant community-based transmission”**

Given that recent studies show that “…the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms,”** it’s important for the safety of both students and teachers that masks are required to be worn in the classroom while also practicing physical distancing. 

In order to align with the basic tenets of the school dress code policy related to maintaining a healthful school environment, Cobb County Schools must amend the dress code to include wearing a mask per the recommendations from the CDC. 

Schools enforce dress code standards today that call for shoes, midriff coverings, undergarments, and sleeves. It’s reasonable to include masks as part of those standards.

Please sign the petition and consider sharing with others so we can bring this issue to the attention of Cobb County Superintendent, Chris Ragsdale. 

You can reach the office of Chris Ragsdale by email at Chris.Ragsdale@cobbk12.org or by phone at 770-426-3453 to voice your opinion. 

A third petition entitled Informed Parents for Cobb County – CCSD Reopening Plan came to our attention shortly after this article was originally posted.

It has 2,294 signatures as of this writing and can be viewed by following this link.

It states:

CCSD parents formally request that more information be provided on both available options (Digital/Traditional) for students in this coming 2020 – 2021 school year BEFORE the options finalize in ParentVUE.  

*** UPDATE 7/1 – The deadline is no longer July 10th!   
“In anticipation of Thursday, July 2’s special-called Board of Education meeting, the District has decided to postpone the window for parents to select a model for the upcoming school year.” ***

On 6/25/20, CCSD released their plans for school reopening on August 3rd.  Parents will be able to choose between a traditional classroom or a remote learning classroom.  Families must register their choice in ParentVUE between July 2nd – July 10th.  No significant details were provided describing the implementation of either learning environment.  CCSD’s website currently states “We know the public and staff have specific questions that are not yet answered. […] Additional details will be provided to the staff and the public over the next 30 days.”  Unfortunately, if we wait 30 days for more information, we will be well past the deadline for choice!  Everyone deserves to be provided with specific details on plan implementation, as this choice will significantly impact education, work, and health of all CCSD families.

Remote Learning

  • Describe the resources which will be provided to CCSD students, including digital resources, learning device loans/rentals, and meal programs
  • Specify the learning platform(s) which will be used
  • Specify maximum class size
  • Describe special conditions and accommodations for vulnerable populations including families living in poverty, and students with developmental challenges.
  • Describe how behavioral health & emotional support will be provided to online learners

Traditional Classroom

  • Specify maximum possible class size
  • Specify cleaning/sanitizing procedures and frequency
  • Describe the efforts that will be made to reduce spread of COVID-19, in the classroom and in other common areas (school busses, lunchroom) such as modified layouts, face coverings, and physical barriers.
  • Describe efforts to supply schools with adequate supplies, including soap, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% ethanol OR 70% isopropanol  (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer), paper towels, tissues, disinfectant wipes, cloth face coverings (as feasible) and no-touch/foot-pedal trash cans.
  • Describe time off policies for staff and back-up staffing plan for when someone falls ill
  • Describe if/how program availability will be impacted (gifted education, afterschool care, etc.)
  • Describe plans for short term closures (2-5 days) if an infected person has been in the building, including continuity of education and meal programs.
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4 Comments on "Petitions target Cobb County school opening plans"

  1. Elitsa Tacheva Stamova | July 2, 2020 at 2:06 pm | Reply

    I am absolutely AGAINST masks at school!!! 8-9 hours breathing in a mask?? Are you crazy? First, do your research how many hours a mask is good for use and then request strict masks!!! Insane people! Keep you fear and kids home!!!

  2. With all of the new cases by the thousands in Cobb County on a daily basis…. I don’t feel it’s safe to send our children into the battlefield. I have one child that will be a sophomore and she most certainly needs her education; I have been paying for her to attend online classes because everything else wasn’t etched in stone. I have a compromised immune system; now what if she goes out to school and picks up something while at school and then brings it home to me? I would whine up in the hospital and where would she go? It’s just the two of us here from NJ…. I just hope we can come to a resolution for the sake of our children’s education. I think right now the virtual education would be best for us and probably a lot of other families. Whatever we do we must stick together!!

  3. Pure insanity. How will children be transported? How can lunch programs work? Cleanliness has long been a problem without the virus. New health issues because of masks will become the new reason for hospitalization. Will there be daily virus spraying? Please do not use our children as medical guinea pigs. Can you imagine this atmosphere for a kindergarten class. Mass legal class action suing will be next.

  4. Why people are pushing to open schools? It will be source of problems and blows of infection. Every organization including WHO confirmed easy spread of virus in the rooms and also specially when A/C is used. Understanding concern that not everybody can keep kids home due to work but more logic and organized will be to start new school year only in remote option for first semester and decide later depend of situation what is next. Can you imagine what happen if any case , even one will be among students or teachers that were in school? School will be close for 2-3 weeks immediately anyway…and then remote system mess up by adding new kids there and taking out after quarantine… By remote start for all, this all students will have equal education , less risk for all. Only sport – after school activities could start without supporters.

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