DEKALB COUNTY, GA—The DeKalb Pastors Christian Alliance will unite to pray for the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) as the first phase of the district’s students prepare to return to classrooms on Tuesday, March 10.
The Alliance has invited DeKalb Schools Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris, DeKalb School Board members, teachers and school personnel to join the virtual prayer, which will be held 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on March 9. Participants should text DeKalbPrays to 797979 for the Zoom link.
“We want to pray for wisdom and covering and protection over our students and all school personnel as students in DeKalb return to school. We want to help ease any anxiety they may have concerning the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Pastor Lee May, who chairs the Alliance and is founder of Transforming Faith Church in Decatur.
DeKalb students will begin returning to in-person instruction in phases. Pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, sixth grade and ninth-grade students are scheduled to return on March 9. The remaining grade levels will start on Monday, March 15. Students will be learning in person part of the time and online part of the time.
Schools will organize all classes into two cohorts based on last name and/or instructional program to adhere to social/physical distancing requirements, facilitate testing and contact tracing, and minimize transmission across cohorts, the district said in a statement.
Opponents, however, have blasted the superintendent and School Board, saying the plan is not one that ensures the safety of students and school personnel.
“This superintendent nor the Board care anything about our children. The buildings are not ready to accommodate staff nor students,” said Deborah Jones, who heads the Organization of DeKalb Educators. “What will the answer be when someone, staff or student dies or infects an entire school? Mr. Varnum was dead almost a week when the district finally mentioned his name. Is this what we want?”
Jones was speaking of Washington Varnum Jr., 54, a campus supervisor at Henderson Middle School, who died from complications from the coronavirus, according to his family. Jones was hospitalized with COVID-19 on New Year’s Day, where he remained in the intensive care unit until his death on Feb. 1.
DeKalb educators and supporters have expressed concern to county officials and state lawmakers about returning to schools as they learn about more cases of the corona virus in school communities.