Decatur school board chair shares COVID-19 diagnosis at meeting

The Decatur school board, l-r, James Herndon, Superintendent David Dude, Chair Tasha White, Lewis Jones, vice chair Heather Tell and Jana Johnson-Davis. Courtesy City Schools of Decatur.
The Decatur school board, l-r, James Herndon, Superintendent David Dude, Chair Tasha White, Lewis Jones, vice chair Heather Tell and Jana Johnson-Davis. Courtesy City Schools of Decatur.

The newly elected chair of the City Schools of Decatur Board of Education revealed she has the coronavirus during a meeting this week.

Tasha White publicly stated at the start of the meeting on Tuesday that she was COVID-19 positive and not feeling well. The former vice chair addressed her diagnosis seconds after she was unanimously voted as chairperson.

“The reason why I’m not in the board meeting today is because I have COVID and I’m not feeling all that well,” White said during her virtual call.

“If I talk to long I get winded and lightheaded.”

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Former chair Lewis B. Jones stepped in to manage the meeting in White’s stead. The board convened in part to discuss reopening plans.

Superintendent David Dude is planning to resume in-person learning for willing elementary school students beginning Jan. 19. He’s also working on reopening for the remaining grades that are still all virtual.

White audibly cleared her throat as she explained how she’s “not happy about the spread of this virus” in DeKalb County. She’s not “100% happy” with everything in Dude’s plan either.

However, “there are a lot of things the cabinet and David have done right,” she said.

The board should act to amend any aspects of the plan that put residents at risk, White said. Adding that access to the vaccine will ease “a lot of my personal fears,” she said educators are eager to be vaccinated as well.

Teachers and parents have protested in Decatur to urge the city to delay reopening plans. In October, Dude delayed a planned fall in-person return.

April Biagioni, a mother of three, said she has over 230 school employee signatures on a letter authored by the district’s Employee Stakeholder Committee in an effort to urge Dude to delay reopening without following recommended guidelines and metrics.

And Lena Kotler-Wallace told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she is homeschooling her 7th grader and kindergartener due to the reopening plan.

“The decision of how to handle the pandemic should never have been in the hands of a single person, and the stumbles of the last year clearly demonstrate that,” she said.

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