“Virtual is just one choice and it’s not one-size-fits-all,” she said. “It doesn’t work for everybody. “We don’t want to remove anybody’s rights. We just want the rights back.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reached out to Ragsdale and the Cobb school district for comment. Ragsdale did not respond to that request, but district spokeswoman Nan Kiel told the AJC that all teachers, principals and leaders in the district want to return to face-to-face learning as soon as its safe to do so.
“Until public health guidance and data for Cobb County says it is safe, our teachers will be teaching and our students will be learning remotely,” she said.
Cobb County schools in March used remote learning to close out the 2019-2020 school year. The district, along with Gwinnett, DeKalb and Fulton, all originally offered parents the choice of face-to-face or virtual learning when the new school year begins. However, due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, all decided to start the year with only remote teaching. Marietta City and Atlanta Public schools also decided to only offer virtual-only classes.
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As of Tuesday, Cobb County had 10,538 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 1,240 hospitalizations and 294 deaths, the Cobb & Douglas Public Health Department said. Dr. Janet Memark, district health director for the two counties, said in a July 28 email that she hopes the number of cases will begin to drop, but “it takes a little longer to get a clear picture of conditions” due to the lag in test results.
“We are seeing an uptick in deaths in Cobb County, which usually lags around other indicators,” the doctor said. “Area hospitals continue to be very busy with COVID cases and intensive care beds.”
Memark and Cobb school board members will participate Thursday in a virtual forum on COVID-19 hosted by Cobb County Commissioner Lisa Cupid. The forum starts at 6:30 p.m. and registration is required to view the event.
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Cobb County School Board member Dr. Jaha Howard, who said on his Facebook page that he, his wife and children all were diagnosed with COVID-19, said he understands the frustration of not having a face-to-face option.
However, he said there’s an opportunity to redirect that energy into holding state leaders accountable for their response to the pandemic. Howard, who owns a pediatric dentistry business, said it will take collective action to bring COVID-19 numbers down to where it will be safe for children to return to the classroom.
“What we are dealing with is hard and we have to take it very seriously,” he said. “It’s going to take all of us, despite our differences, to tackle it.”