Several dozen parents, plus children in school uniforms, held placards that read, “Open Texas Without Restrictions” and “Open Our Schools” in front of the Tarrant County Administration Office downtown this morning.
The “Kids First!” rally, according to its Facebook page, was intended to gather parents who “believe kids need to be in school.” In-person classes across the county have been delayed until September 28 due to a declaration by Tarrant County health officials that cited the high number of COVID-19 cases in North Texas.
Tarrant County has reported a total of 25,146 cases of COVID-19 since when March, while the state has tallied more than 380,000 confirmed cases, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Tarrant County Public Health lists the local community spread level as “substantial” at the moment with 353 new cases of COVID-19 reported. Based on total cases, Texas ranks third among U.S. states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tracy, a mother with children in a private Christian school, said she was there to “get kids back to school.”
The virus, she said, “was not the plague” that we were told it would be.
“If you are elderly, it is going to be dangerous to you,” she continued. “We should never have quarantined the healthy. Viruses are a part of life. There are unintended consequences [with the handling of COVID-19] that far outweigh any benefits. Let the healthy continue on.”
Another mother, this one with four children in Arlington school district, said the downturn in the economy has made online learning an unrealistic opinion.
“I am in a position to speak up,” she said. “Many parents cannot do online learning and make a living. Our rights have been taken away. We want to have the choice of being in a classroom.”
A livestream video of Judge Glen Whitley speaking to select parents inside the county commissioners’ courtroom was aired on a large flatscreen TV. Whitley — who heads Tarrant County’s governing body, the commissioners court — fielded sometimes heated questions for 90 minutes. He explained the steps that led to the decision by Tarrant County health officials to delay in-person classes for private and public schools in Tarrant County.
Whitley said he wished school boards were given the ability to decide whether their campuses opened or not. Under the current order by Gov. Greg Abbott, county health officials override local elected officials when deciding to delay classroom openings. A full recording of the discussion can be viewed on the Weekly’s Facebook page.