Georgia 2nd grader tests positive on first day of school—whole class quarantined for two weeks
Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay

Yesterday, photos from the first day of school in two different Georgia school districts revealed the startling reality that "safe" school reopenings aren't happening in some areas. Now it's come to light that one of those same school districts had a positive case in an elementary school classroom on the first day of school, proving that opening schools in an uncontrolled pandemic is simply not going to work.

According to WSVN News, a second grader at Sixes Elementary in the Cherokee County School District tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday. On Tuesday, the classroom was closed for cleaning and all 20 students in the class as well as the teacher began a two-week quarantine at home.

Just one day of school, and an entire class has already been shut down for the next two weeks, at least.


Cherokee County School District "encourages" students to wear masks, but does not require it. (It's worth noting that Cherokee County School District has a dress code for students, which says students must cover their shoulders, can't wear pants or skirts with frayed ends or pant legs that touch the floor, and must wear "appropriate undergarments" that no one will ever see—but they won't require students to wear a mask during a pandemic. Seriously.)

Opening schools in an area where the virus is not under control is already a risky undertaking. Opening without very strict protocols in place—a mask mandate being one of the most basic—is simply foolish. The World Health Organization has recommended delaying reopening plans until an area has a lower than 5% positivity rate with coronavirus testing. Currently, Georgia's positivity rate is higher than 12%—nowhere near what they should be in order to even consider reopening.

No one denies that students learning in person is important. No one denies that schools provide a much-needed service for many families. No one denies that there are no easy decisions and that schools and families are largely stuck between a rock and a hard place. But no one can deny that in-person schooling under the circumstances in many areas of the U.S. simply won't work. We have too many cases. We don't have the virus under control enough to do the testing and contact tracing necessary to make school reopenings actually work without constant disruption.

This classroom had to shut down for two weeks after the first day. That will have to happen every time a student or teacher tests positive—imagine the disruption that will cause throughout the school year as the virus continues spreading. If cases were low enough, it could be doable with mitigation measures in place. But at the peak of the outbreak, without stringent safety measures in place? Come on. No one is fooling anyone but themselves.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has encouraged school reopenings if they can be done safely. President Trump tweets in all-caps "OPEN THE SCHOOLS!!!" with no additional direction on how and when and where to do so safely. We know that children can get and spread this disease. We know that schools are petri dishes for the spread of all kinds of viruses. We know that teachers have expressed concern about reopening without clear safety protocols in place.

And we can guess what the outcome will be in these school districts that are allowing students to come to class without masks, gather for school photos without masks or social distancing, and crowd high school hallways as if life goes on as normal. It's not good. Not for Georgia, and not for the U.S. as a whole.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Demonstrators hold up signs at the Rally for Abortion Justice in Columbus, Ohio

The U.S. Supreme Court's swing to the right under the Trump presidency puts abortion rights in peril throughout the United States. The Court's decision not to act on a Texas law that bans abortions after about six weeks has opened the floodgates for other states to restrict freedoms.

The Texas law deputizes its citizens to report those who've had an abortion after the fetus has a heartbeat or anyone who assisted in the process. Reporters whose information leads to a successful conviction can be awarded up to $10,000 by the state.

The law is astonishing in a state that claims to value freedom. What's more authoritarian than paying your citizens to snitch on each other for their personal health decisions?

Keep Reading Show less