All across the country the cases for those testing positive and being overcome by the deadly life altering coronavirus is drastically increasing.
The New York Times published that Friday so far has set a new recorded in the U.S. for the worst day of COVID-19 cases since this pandemic began over eight months ago. A total of 79,000 new cases had been reported across the country, breaking a single-day record set on July 16 by more than 3,000 cases.
With the havoc this virus is wreaking all across the nation, Senior citizens and other citizens of the Houston County Alabama community have become overly concerned with the decisions being made by the Houston County School Board, where David Sewell is the current superintendent, regarding the meetings being held to conduct business pertaining to their children and decisions being made surrounding their education.
The concerns stem from the board members lack of properly utilizing their mask during the meetings and for their refusal to make the meetings available again virtually so citizens can safely attend.
Dr. Franklin Jones, who is the current NAACP president and organizer of the New Justice Coalition, released a statement regarding the school boards behavior:
“It has been brought to the attention of the New Justice Coalition of Houston County that the Houston County Board of Education is conducting public meetings outside the mandates or purview of Governor Kay Ivey concerning the use of masks in public places. It was noted in a recent meeting that the Superintendent, six members of the Board, four members of the central office and county school staff, one member of the public, and one other elected official, were not wearing masks during the meeting. There appears to be no empathy for the safety of others who wish to attend the public meeting without endangering health or life. I implore the Superintendent to do the right thing and to make the school board meetings safe for all citizens to attend and without the fear of loss of health or life.”
Teretha James, a organizer for the local NAACP and New Justice Coalition who also has been a very active participant in the board meetings before the virus and before virtual access was canceled without warning stated,
“During this time of Covid-19, the health officials have recommended and Governor Kay Ivey has mandated wearing masks in public and group gatherings. This mandate is to help protect all of us. Whereas Dothan City School Board continues to hold virtual School Board Meetings, Houston County has resumed brick and mortar meetings. During attendance at the last three meetings, it has been reported that this mandate is not being adhered to by some Board members and staff. I personally observed that Monday, August 31. On August 17, I personally delivered a letter and inquired about attending the meeting that afternoon virtually, and I was told I could not. On August 31, I called the office to inquire about being able to attend virtually and was told no. I should not have to choose between my health/safety and attending a public meeting. It is imperative that all public officials follow the mandate and require all attendees who participate in public meetings and/ or work in a public setting to wear a mask at work and during the meeting.”
This past Monday the Houston County School Board held another meeting. Emails were sent to David Sewell beforehand with direct concerns of mask not being properly utilized, inquiring about virtual access, and a host of other things such as the status of any diversity training teachers have received after last years uproar when seven white teachers called the “Bad A B’s” of Ashford High School, were caught being racist, discriminatory, and violent against other teachers, parents, and students of color and LGBTQ status.
Despite the mandate issued by Gov. Kay Ivey, the scientific analysis and the CDC’s repeated encouragement as to why wearing mask in public helps suppress the spread of the virus, David Sewell’s response to the communities concern for the board not properly following mask protocol was:
“The board members/Superintendent are six (6) feet apart and more then six (6) from the attendees.”
Several Houston County schools, under this school boards administration, within the last few weeks have had to close completely down due to the virus being spread uncontrollably amongst students, teachers, and other staff.
The community is now questioning why the board members aren’t setting a healthy example of adhering to proper mask utilization while holding public meetings and why is the school board refusing to open virtual access to the meetings to allow vulnerable citizens the opportunity to participate safely when the fact is the Houston County School system itself is being impacted by this virus and the doors to the schools are being forced shut one by one.