If, like MDJ editor Jon Gillooly, you want to visit your fragile grandmother, but dont want to infect her with plague, consider taking a spin by Kennesaw State Universitys main campus as he recently did to be tested for the coronavirus.
Jon drove over just before lunchtime on Wednesday, May 13.
If you have parked there over the years as he has to hear various campus speakers from Ann Coulter to Angela Davis, you may find it disorienting to see Georgia National Guardsmen in uniform and facemasks waving you in instead of students with backpacks walking this way and that.
The first guardsman instructs you to roll up your window and drive into the deck. Another asks for your license.
Do you have an appointment? You do not, but all is well. You simply call a number provided and tell the operator your information.
Next, youre advised to drive ahead to the testing station set up on the ground floor of the deck, a station with tables stacked with various testing paraphernalia. The masked nurses are washing their hands as a guardsman approaches your car door and tells you to put the car into park. This will prove important in a bit. A nurse, masked and wearing a face shield, greets you at your drivers side window and warns not to move your head as she unwraps a long strip of material.
Yes, she nods, at which point she inserts the strip into your left nostril, pushing it so deep inside your head its a good thing your car is in park.
Count to 10, she orders, but really, when youre impaled like this, all you can do is pray for it to be over.
Pulling out the first strip without any noticeable mercy, she inserts a second one, this time into the right nostril, driving it so far back it meets your earliest childhood memories.
For some reason you had thought the test would involve something easy, like licking a postage stamp. Wrong.
Eventually, though, a friendly guardsman appears to say its all over, and to call this number after 48 to 72 hours for the results.
You see him mouthing the words, not understanding a thing he said.
48 to 72 hours, he repeats.
He could be speaking in tongues as far as youre concerned.
He patiently repeats himself a third time, at which point you get the message and thank him for his service before driving out of the deck, never to return. All told, less than half an hour from entrance to exit.
Jons results came the following Monday, a little long to wait, in his opinion, but a relief that he could safely visit his grandmother, who is in her nineties.
Would he do it again, he is asked, now knowing what to expect?
Let's just say Grandma, sainted though she is, will be getting phone calls rather than in-person visits for the next good while.
OPENING UP: In an interview published by Education Dive, former Cobb Schools Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, now superintendent of the Dallas (Texas) Independent School District, was asked what advice he has for superintendents making decisions to reopen school. Hinojosa, who preceded Chris Ragsdale as Cobb super, answered the question this way:
Dr. Michael Hinojosa Staff/file
As you make these big, important decisions that a lot of people are depending on you for, you have to realize that you're at a different stage than everybody else. First, people are angry, then they're in denial, then they grieve, and then they accept.
So what happens is when you're making these decisions, you're probably already at acceptance.
But a lot of people are at different stages they're just now getting angry, they're just now going into denial. So you've got to take that into consideration.
No matter what you do, you're going to get criticized. So you need to think about what's in the best interest of your students, your families, your staff, your community. Realize you're going to take some heat. That's the cost of doing business when you're the CEO of a public entity like this. But you've got to be able to empathize that people are in different stages of [processing].
And then you can't be wishy-washy. Normally, you can be overturned by the school board and by the mayor. But at some point, people are looking to you for leadership. And that's the penalty of leadership: You sometimes have to make a tough call when you're out there by yourself.
But you have a lot more information than everybody else has as they're starting to process everything that's about to happen to them.
REPORT CARDS: The Atlanta Coalition for Educational Equity, a group of educators, administrators, parents, students and community leaders, who advocate for policies and practices that expand educational opportunities for metro Atlanta students, have given some of Cobbs school board candidates their report cards.
The group, created in September, has so far weighed in on Democratic Post 5 candidates Dr. Julia Hurtado and Tammy Andress, as well as Democratic Post 1 candidate Vickie Benson.
The boards Post 1 seat is held by Randy Scamihorn, and the Post 5 seat is held by senior board member and Vice Chair David Banks.
The ACEE flunked Banks and one of his Republican challengers, Matt Harper, for not answering a questionnaire sent to all candidates. Though a post on the groups Facebook page shows Republican Post 5 candidate Shelley O'Malley, Post 1 incumbent Scamihorn and Post 7 candidate and school board Chairman Brad Wheeler did not respond to the questionnaire, they have not yet been given a report card.
Democratic Post 7 candidate Lindsay Terrebonne is said to have answered but has also not yet received a grade.
The highest-rated candidate so far has been Benson, who the group gave an A.
The groups questionnaire includes four questions: 1. Will you fully commit to working with other board members to reopen board public comment? 2. Will you commit to supporting the creation and funding of a Chief Equity Officer role who will conduct an equity audit of Cobb County Schools? 3. Do you commit to supporting policy solutions that arise from the equity audit? 4. Will you commit to prioritizing the establishment of a Community and Family Engagement Office to serve as a liaison for families, community partners and school councils?
Candidates respond with a yes or no.
In Bensons case, every answer was yes, and from the candidates survey answers, the ACEE says it has concluded she has a strong commitment to equity, backed by a plan that is well thought-out.
The group says Benson advocates for the implementation of data-driven policy solutions and offers ideas about engagement activities outside of currently existing structures (i.e. PTA, school council, etc.).
Andress, meanwhile, has received a B. All four answers were yes. The ACEE says Andresss responses show she is committed to equity among students and supports a nonpartisan approach to governance. The group also says Andress believes in the need for better communication between the school board and the community.
Hurtado received a B-, placing her just below Andress. All four answers were yes. The ACEE says Hurtado is strong on issues of equity and believes an chief equity officer role should be a priority in the budget but lacks specifics on a plan for achieving equity.
SPEAKER CIRCUIT: The Cobb Chamber of Commerce is hosting a business recovery webinar on the legal guidance for reopening. The event is from 11 a.m. to noon on Wednesday. The panel includes attorneys Neera Bahl, Dave Cole, Scott Gregory, Christina Moore, Justin ODell and Chamber Chairman John Loud.
GALA CANCELED: The Center for Family Resources says it will not reschedule its postponed annual gala in 2020, opting to hold the next one in 2021. The CFR had to cancel its Diamonds in the Garden Anniversary Gala in March due to the pandemic.
The decision to reschedule the event will allow CFR staff and supporters to focus on providing emergency assistance to those financially impacted by the pandemic. The CFR staff are busy working through support requests from hundreds of families in need. More than 1,000 calls have been received since March from those impacted by COVID-19, the center reports.
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