- A Georgia school official ignored teachers’ demands for a mask mandate, instead offering to let them wear blue jeans.
- The superintendent hoped giving teachers “the liberty of wearing jeans” would be an “encouragement.”
- As COVID cases rise, one teacher in the county called the announcement “super offensive.”
As a Georgia school district grapples with rising COVID cases, teachers are begging the district for a mask mandate.
Instead, Bulloch County School District Superintendent Charles Wilson offered a more casual dress code — a move teachers have criticized.
Wilson announced in an email last week that the district’s teachers could wear jeans for a month, The Daily Beast’s Larrison Campbell reported.
“I talked with principals today and we all agreed that, though it is a small gesture, you would enjoy the liberty of wearing jeans for the next month,” Wilson wrote. “So, by all means, please enjoy your jeans throughout the month of September (and the rest of August).”
A screenshot of the email, which has made rounds on Twitter, showed Wilson said “words can only go so far” as he thanked teachers for “all that you are doing for our students and for each other.”
“Everyone fights their own battles but all of you are angels and heroes to our children and they need you. Please remember that,” a screenshot of Wilson’s email shared by The New Yorker’s Charles Bethea read.
One teacher at a school in Bulloch County told The Daily Beast that Wilson’s letter was “super offensive,” speaking anonymously for fear of retaliation. Another compared going to school to “going to war.”
“The only weapons that we have are masks and vaccines if we’ve chosen to get it,” the second teacher, also speaking anonymously, said. “And our administrators sit in their offices sending out condescending little emails, as if jeans are going to help protect us or our families from getting sick.”
Wilson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
COVID numbers have been on the rise for the school district since classes started on August 2. In the first three weeks, nearly 900 of the district’s approximately 11,000 students tested positive for COVID, the district reported.
On August 12, the school district elevated its COVID protocols to “high-spread level“, which states that “masks are not required but are strongly encouraged especially in settings where social distancing is difficult to accomplish.”
According to Bulloch County’s COVID guidelines, students who have been exposed to a COVID-positive person can still attend school as long as they are asymptomatic, despite CDC findings that people can spread COVID before they see symptoms in themselves.
In a statement to parents on August 19, Wilson said the district is planning on keeping schools open.
“I want to assure you that Bulloch County Schools is aware of the many and diverse perspectives across our community regarding COVID-19 and the status of our schools. Please know that we are committed to keeping our schools open and monitoring conditions within our schools to appropriately balance the practicalities of providing a healthy, safe, and nurturing learning environment,” Wilson said.