Today, as Georgia schools continue to reopen in person schooling while the state surges past 200,000 coronavirus cases, Georgia Democrats shared testimony from concerned parents, teachers, and staff, and slammed Donald Trump and Brian Kemp for Georgia’s reckless reopening. Just this afternoon, Kemp doubled down on his refusal to enact mask orders for public schools.
In the last week alone, multiple Georgia counties have had hundreds of school employees quarantine for COVID-19 exposure, schools have flagrantly disregarded public health guidelines, and a seven year old child has died.
“Instead of taking quick action to follow public health guidance as this virus surged, Donald Trump and Brian Kemp dragged their feet, lied to the public, and outright banned communities from enacting mask orders to keep them safe,” said Nikema Williams, Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia. “As the mom of a brand new kindergartner, I wish more than anyone that it was safe to reopen in person schools — but Trump and Kemp’s failed leadership is endangering our schools, our teachers, and our kids. Georgia Democrats stand with the educators and students who are standing up for their safety as Donald Trump and Brian Kemp’s failed leadership is risking their lives. We know it didn’t have to be this bad — and we will keep fighting until we kick these failed leaders to the curb at the ballot box on November 3rd.”
“As a physician, I can tell you that this return to school is a direct result of Brian Kemp and Donald Trump’s willful dismissal of the advice of public health experts,” said Dr. Michelle Au, Democratic nominee for Senate District 48. “In their stubborn refusal to act, they have extended this pandemic, they have allowed it to flourish, and really made the economic and social consequences much more severe for every person in the state of Georgia. As a working mom to three school age kids, it’s hard for me to tell my kids they won’t be returning to school in person this week. But harder yet is knowing that the reason they can’t go back to school is because their leaders have failed them.”
“As a nurse, I’ve seen firsthand how illnesses spread in the school system, and I know it is not safe to reopen schools in person — especially when staff, students, and teachers were not going to be given proper PPE, or be able to safely practice social distancing,” said Amy Westmoreland, former nurse in Paulding County Public Schools. “Our children are not safe, and they’re not safe because we can’t rely on our own governor, let alone the President of the United States to protect us. How dare they let us down like this and not protect us. I love these children very much, and they trust me — but I cannot be complicit and tell them that reopening schools is safe when I know it is not.”
“Teachers and students across the state are experiencing unsafe conditions in their schools, but leadership hasn’t been listening, and often has been doubling down and making it worse,” said State Representative Beth Moore, who has been receiving whistleblower testimony from Georgia teachers and students. “Since Friday night, I’ve received hundreds of emails from teachers, students, and parents who are terrified. The adults in the room where decisions are made aren’t taking this virus seriously — and the people who will suffer from this are our teachers, children, and their families.”
“It’s really disheartening that local school districts have been left with making the difficult decisions because we don’t have the resources or planning to safely bring kids back to school safely,” said Everton Blair, school board member in Gwinnett County. “We’ve been saying this for months — but our leaders should have been investing in public education the same way we did into our economy. Now, when many districts across the state had a budget shortfall, we suffered from the budget cuts and are being asked to do much more with much less. When you couple that with all of the public health guidelines that we are either ignoring or failing to abide by, there is no way that we can safely reopen schools for in person instruction. Where is the managerial expertise and leadership at this time?”
To watch the full press conference, including stories from school whistleblowers, click here.
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