More than 60 DeKalb County School District parents and employees, including some teachers, stood in the cold outside of the district’s headquarters on Monday to protest school reopening plans.

They carried signs with messages such as “no face to face until it’s safe,” and “I can teach from a computer, not from a casket.” None would comment on the record to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for fear of retaliation from the district.

It was the second protest held within three days.

DeKalb has held virtual-only classes since March 2020 and has not said when in-person learning will begin again. Some staff members returned to buildings in early January to prepare for in-person learning. Most remaining staff, including teachers, are to return to schools Wednesday.

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Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris has repeatedly told residents schools will be safe. The district also posted videos meant to assure staff that buildings are safe.

However, teachers at Monday’s protest in Stone Mountain said the videos do not represent the average county school building. Some teachers say their buildings lack hallway navigation stickers, sanitizing stations and access to an adequate amount of sanitation products.

In response to an AJC records request, the district said that 541 employees and 144 students have tested positive for COVID-19 from July 1 to Jan. 28.

ExploreCOVID-19 cases reported at metro Atlanta public schools

District officials initially said they would wait until there are fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 residents prior to reopening. Later, officials said they would reconsider reopening if the two-week positivity rate drops below 10%, which has yet to happen.

Watson-Harrison recently told parents that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that classrooms can reopen if communities embrace safety measures.

Unlike all other metro Atlanta school districts, DeKalb isn’t releasing the number of coronavirus cases among students and staff. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has requested the information, which districts provide to the state.

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