The Democrat said she took action “in response to the events in Paulding County, where school administrators attempted to silence and punish a student for sharing her concerns about the lack safety in her school. … I will give you the cover you need to get the information to the right people,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
As of mid-week Moore said she had received more than 250 emails from children, parent and teachers across the state.
She posted text reportedly from one Etowah High School student’s email, which said in part, “I cannot understand why we do not have to wear masks. No one is wearing them. … We’ve been told that’s it not enforceable but I don’t think that’s true,” the note said. “Being able to see if someone is or is not wearing a mask and taking action is far easier than subjectively looking at a girl’s clothing to determine that it is not appropriate.”
And Moore shared an email from a teacher at Coleman Middle School in Duluth, part of the Gwinnett County Public Schools. The teacher said required in-person staff meetings have been held in a crowded cafeteria and could have instead been done online. A teacher who tested positive for coronavirus was at school for a week, working as normal, while awaiting test results.
The whistleblower estimated 20 teachers have been in close contact with the person who tested positive, but educators have been told to continue to report for work as they wait to hear their test results. “I love my school, but I am terrified,” the email said.
Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted Friday that Georgia is making progress in the fight against COVID-19. “This encouraging data is vital as local leaders decide how best to protect and educate students in schools throughout our state,” he said.
Teachers, staff, and bus drivers in Gwinnett County who are concerned about the district’s reopening plan have contacted Moore via the anonymous email, she said. Gwinnett County started virtual-only instruction on Aug. 12 but requires faculty to report in person. The district has staggered plans for students to return to campus starting Aug. 26, depending on conditions.
According to Moore, a verified Gwinnett teacher wrote: “I am a military veteran, a combat vet who served in Afghanistan. I made the career switch to education because I believe deeply, fiercely, in the promise and necessity of public education, of the brilliance and integrity of our youth. I did not sign up to be a martyr; if I wanted to die at work, I would have stayed in the military.”
A verified Gwinnett bus driver emailed: “The GCPS Administration has informed us that at the end of August, it’s mandatory for all school bus drivers to transport students whether they have masks or not. We have families, small children and underlying conditions as well. In addition, a large population of GCPS school bus drivers are over the age of 60, and are highly at risk. This is unacceptable for the GCPS Administration to treat school bus drivers as if we are expendable.”
All of these public employees asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from their employer. Their voices deserve to be heard.”
This comes after the school made national headlines for student photos shared to social media that appeared to depict crowded hallways.
At least two North Paulding High School students were suspended for posting images of a crowded school hallway that went viral on Twitter. Hannah Watters was among the students who did so, but her suspension has since been lifted.
The photo Watters shared appears to show few students wearing face coverings to prevent the virus’ spread.
The Paulding County School District has added a section to its website noting the number of students and staff with COVID-19. As of Aug. 14 it noted a total of 21 cases at the school, but the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 35, according to a letter to parents published Aug. 12, WXIA said.
Every Friday the school district will post a one-week snapshot of COVID-19 cases as reported by each school. When a school has a confirmed case of COVID-19, the school notifies the Department of Public Health and works to identify “close contacts” as defined under Department of Public Health guidelines. Any students and staff who are confirmed cases of COVID-19 must quarantine for a minimum of 10 days. Any identified close contacts must quarantine for at least 14 days.