Yesterday evening I gave a three-minute "comment" at my board meeting to try to make a case for protecting students, staff, and faculty, while slowing community spread, by maintaining digital learning until scientific data shows the time is correct for opening schools. It is hard to fit all of that into three minutes. I have embedded and linked a video of my speech below, and beneath that is a full transcript of the speech for the hearing impaired or those who prefer to read.
Thank you for hearing me. My son is a Gwinnett senior this year, and he has worked very hard to create his perfect senior year. Starting in his Freshman year, he has taken extra classes so that he could create a schedule with room for two musical courses, Latin, and an environmental engineering course that he has been excited about since January. Seeing his senior year ruined is enraging. My son has repeatedly made hard choices to arrive here.
You have made choices to arrive here too. Some have made me proud—such as the bus-based food distribution program—and some have shamed me. Throughout the entirety of the summer, you chose not to address the county’s virtual infrastructure so we could teach digitally with success. You chose not to purchase enough chromebooks for students without home devices to provide equal access to digital learning. You chose to sit and hope that instead of increasing, the cases of Covid would decline, and you could simply open the schools.
You chose inaction.
And you chose to justify your inaction with two-month old surveys, outdated research, pandemic advice from an OB/GYN, bully tactics, and an increasingly incredulous obliviousness of the experiments already running in Paulding and Cherokee County.
By opening schools, you are making a new choice. A choice to ignore the current science. A choice to ignore the CDC’s recommendations for—not even the “best-case scenario,” as it is worded in your own reopening plan—but the bare minimum for safely reopening. A choice to put teachers and their families at risk. A choice to put bus drivers and school staff at risk.
But most importantly, and the reason I cannot comprehend how you can claim to care about the well-being of the students you govern, this is a choice to put children at risk. A choice that will result in child illness.
Yes, there is risk in everything. But there is a difference in driving a car with the knowledge I might someday be in an accident and driving a car knowing today is the day.
Statistics are clean. They are faceless. But know that in this room are people who have lost family members to Covid-19. Look at our faces and tell us you choose us as your sacrifice. You choose our families.
You choose our children.
My son’s senior year should have been his best. But I choose his life over his convenience and momentary happiness. I choose people over politics. My hope is you can choose the same.