DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Dozens of teachers and their supporters lined the entrance of the DeKalb School Board Headquarters Tuesday hoping to change administrators' minds and draw support from the community.
"A lot of the parents and the students don't want to go and I think educators should have the choice just like the families did," said fourth grade teacher Ethan Magnes.
Dressed in all black with masks, their signs of disapproval sent the message they hope to convey to the DeKalb County School District who did an about-face and announced on December 16 teachers must return for in-person instruction January 4, with students returning on a staggered schedule the following weeks.
Michael Green and his wife both teach in DeKalb public schools and have three children in the school district.
"We're teaching virtually and our kids are learning virtually. We're staying safe and to change that up without changing the conditions around us just doesn't make sense," said Green, who carried a sign that read, "Stop changing the metrics!"
Green is one of many teachers who felt comfortable with the district’s original plan--no instruction in the classroom until there were no more than 100 new coronavirus cases reported per 100,000 DeKalb residents for 14 consecutive days.
"The idea that we are outpacing the progress of the vaccine is insane and probably the best way to go is to wait until next school year. By then, the vaccine has circulated and I would assume by then the risk would be lower," said Green, who teaches high school business classes.
In a statement issued to FOX 5, superintendent Cheryl Watson Harris said administrators are committed to working with teachers to provide alternative work assignment options, including adjusted schedules and adjusted work locations.
Teachers at the rally, which was organized by the Organization of DeKalb Educators, said they're getting little to no feedback about how to get those adjustments and insist the ADA criteria for taking leave is too hard to meet.
"We can't take our kids to school with us and we're in a situation where one of us may have to stay at home to watch the kids, which would decrease our income in the house," Green added.
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