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E-commerce firm plans Henry warehouse, 344 jobs

By Andy Peters, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

Radial will service a health and beauty company

Online-commerce company Radial plans to open a distribution facility in Henry County, creating 344 full-time jobs.

Radial will also hire about 1,000 part-time workers for the fulfillment center during busy seasons, according to the state Department of Economic Development. The completed, 761,000-square-foot warehouse is located at Gardner Logistics Park in Locust Grove.

Metro Atlanta has become a magnet for distribution facilities for both online and brick-and-mortar retailers. Amazon is opening a 700,000-square-foot facility in Stone Mountain, where it plans to hire 1,000 workers, and it will hire 500 workers for a new facility in Newnan. Home Depot, which already operates a distribution center in Henry County, plans to add 1,000 jobs at three new Atlanta-area distribution centers next year.

Radial’s “investments in Georgia are a testament to our unmatched logistics infrastructure and top-notch workforce,” Gov. Brian Kemp said in a news release.

The King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based company did not disclose when it will begin operations. Radial will hire people for material handling, distribution, management and supervision. The Henry County center will support a “nationally recognized health and beauty brand” that it did not identify.

Radial, a subsidiary of Belgian postal operator BPost Group, operates a distribution center in Buford.


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GBI: Deputy injured by gunfire while responding to 911 call in cemetery

By Henri Hollis, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

An east Georgia deputy was injured Wednesday morning when a 911 call in an Elbert County cemetery ended in gunfire.

The 911 caller was taken into custody after the incident, but it is not clear if he fired the shot that injured the deputy, according to the GBI.

Investigators said the man called 911 just before 4 a.m. and told an Elbert County dispatcher that he planned to harm himself. However, he hung up before the dispatcher could get any information or offer help, the GBI said.

Elbert sheriff’s deputies were able to determine that the call was made from a cemetery on Rehoboth Road in Bowman, the GBI said. Deputies found the man sitting in a pickup truck with a gun in his hand.

When the man told deputies he intended to hurt himself, they tried to get him to surrender the gun, according to the GBI. After more than an hour of negotiating, deputies tried to break into the truck through a side window.

At that point, gunshots rang out. Investigators have not determined if the man fired his weapon, but a deputy fired multiple shots in return.

Amid the gunfire, one of the deputies was shot in the hand. He was taken to a hospital by ambulance and has since been released.

The incident is the 76th officer-involved shooting the GBI has been asked to investigate this year and the second on Wednesday.

A DeKalb County deputy shot a murder suspect during an arrest, the GBI said. The GBI has not released the suspect’s identity or the details of their condition.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also tracks police shootings that don’t involve the GBI, and those numbers sometimes differ from the state agency’s tally.

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UPDATE: Judge to release Breonna Taylor records on Friday

By ArLuther Lee, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #local-all

Ruling issued after Kentucky AG sought last-minute delay

A Kentucky judge has delayed until Friday the release of secret grand jury proceedings in Breonna Taylor’s killing by police so that prosecutors can edit out witnesses’ names and personal information.

Hours before the court was due to release the recordings on Wednesday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a motion to delay the action by one week, according to several news reports.

The surprise legal action came two days after one of the grand jurors filed a motion claiming Cameron misled the public about the proceedings.

Cameron’s motion cited the need to redact information that would protect the identities of private citizens who served as witnesses in the case, reports said.

It was one of several unprecedented developments following the grand jury’s decision last week not to charge any of the Louisville police officers in Taylor’s fatal shooting during a drug raid on March 13. The details that slowly emerged about the botched raid sparked national outrage and months of protests.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by officers who entered her home using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation. The warrant used had been connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.

Cameron acknowledged for the first time this week that he never put forth an option for the grand jury to indict any of the officers for murder in the woman’s fatal shooting.

Cameron had previously declined to say what charges he recommended but in a TV interview on Tuesday, Cameron said he had recommended no charges against the other officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove.

Cameron has also announced that the law did not permit him to charge the officers and that the grand jury had agreed with him by charging one of the three officers — Brett Hankison — with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment unrelated to Taylor’s death.

Hankison was instead charged with shooting into neighboring apartments on the night of the raid. Hankison, who was fired from the force for his actions, pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Cameron said last week the use of force by officers was justified because Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was the first to open fire when police burst in, wounding Mattingly.

Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but prosecutors later dropped the charge after Walker said he heard knocking but didn’t know who was coming into the home and fired in self-defense.

Cameron said Hankison and the other officers who entered Taylor’s apartment announced themselves before entering — and so did not execute the warrant as “no-knock,” according to the investigation.

“According to Kentucky law, the use of force by Mattingly and Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves,” he said. “This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.”

“Sometimes the criminal law is not adequate to respond to a tragedy,” he said.

Then in a surprise development on Monday, one of the unnamed grand jurors filed a motion in court the seeking the release of court transcripts and permission from a judge to speak publicly about the proceedings.

Lawyer Kevin Glogower said the grand juror came to him distressed last week after Cameron announced that the law did not permit him to charge the officers and that the jury had agreed with him.

According to Glogower, the juror was unsettled by the fact that the grand jury was not given an option of charging the two officers when the community was roiled by demonstrations seeking their indictment, The New York Times reported. The 12-member panel was presented only with possible charges against Hankison.

“This is something where the juror is not seeking any fame, any acclaim, any money,” said Glogower, according to The New York Times.

In response, Cameron said he supported the release of tapes of the proceedings.

“We have no concerns with grand jurors sharing their thoughts on our presentation because we are confident in the case we presented,” Cameron said in a written statement. Cameron added that the record will show that his team “presented a thorough and complete case to the grand jury.”

The exposure of grand jury proceedings would upend a long tradition of keeping those deliberations secret.

Cameron, a Republican protege of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the state’s first African American attorney general, has been criticized since announcing the grand jury’s indictment for not seeking charges against the officers for killing Taylor. Cameron said the other two officers who fired their guns were justified because Taylor’s boyfriend had fired at them first.

Protesters took to the streets in Louisville and around the country to demand more accountability in the case, as frustrations spilled over after months of waiting for Cameron’s announcement. Activists and Taylor’s family called for the grand jury file to be released.

After the judge ordered the public release of the grand jury proceedings during Hankison’s arraignment on Monday, Cameron said the grand jury was meant to be a “secretive body,” but “it’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen.”

The attorney general said a record of the proceedings would be released Wednesday, and that the public “will see that over the course of two-and-a-half days, our team presented a thorough and complete case to the grand jury.”

Speaking to WDRB-TV in Louisville, Cameron remarked of the grand jury, “They’re an independent body. If they wanted to make an assessment about different charges, they could have done that. But our recommendation was that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their acts and their conduct.”

Information provided by The Associated Press was used to supplement this report.

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Kemp extends Georgia’s coronavirus restrictions with minor changes

By Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday extended the state’s coronavirus restrictions an additional two weeks, signing an order that relaxes rules for restaurant and bar employees exposed to the disease.

Kemp stopped short of making more significant changes to state guidelines set to expire this week, rejecting calls to impose new limits on gatherings while also saying he’s not yet ready to scale back broader restrictions that have been in place for months.

The new rules, which expire Oct. 15, allow restaurant and bar employees to return to work after 24 hours if they’re confirmed to be symptom-free after they were confirmed or suspected of contracting COVID-19. Previous rules required them to stay away for three days; the new limits adhere to guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The latest order also extends deadlines for high school graduates to submit ACT or SAT scores to qualify for the Zell Miller and Hope scholarships. Separately, he also extended a public health emergency until Nov. 9.

Georgia’s efforts to stem the spread of the disease are showing signs of traction. The latest report from President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force moved Georgia out of its most severe “red” category for the first time in months.

The state has reported declining cases in nine out of the past 10 weeks, stretching back to mid-July, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of state data shows. The current seven-day rolling average of new cases of 1,135 is down about 70% from the July peak, the AJC analysis found.

Kemp’s previous 51-page order, signed two weeks ago, for the first time set up a three-phase system for in-person visits to senior care facilities based on the rate of coronavirus testing, the length of time the home has gone without a new case and other factors such as community spread.

Those rules remain in place, along with renewed safety guidelines for restaurants, bars and other businesses to follow to stay open. It also extends a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, which has become a focus of public health experts who have encouraged the governor to impose stricter limits.

Kemp on Tuesday rejected that notion, saying that his discussions with Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the state’s public health commissioner, convinced him that Georgians might rebel.

“It’s a great idea, but people are over that. One of the things that Dr. Toomey and I have tried to do is to make sure that we’re putting things out there that people can buy into,” he said at a stop in Dawsonville. “And to go backward on that, I just don’t think people are going to comply with it.”

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Georgia Power ends pandemic moratorium on collecting bill payments

By Matt Kempner, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

130,000-plus customers get six months to catch up unpaid electric bills

Georgia Power’s moratorium on disconnecting homes for non-payment has ended, even as the pandemic rolls on.

Beginning this month, 132,000 customers of the state’s dominant power company must begin paying down past-due balances that built up during the economic distress caused by pandemic. Otherwise, customers face having their electricity cut off, as tens of thousands already experienced.

As many jobs went into hibernation, the state’s Public Service Commission backed and later extended Georgia Power’s decision in March to halt disconnecting customers. Later, the PSC’s five elected commissioners unanimously lifted the moratorium, effective July 15.

Some activists warned that many Georgians were still without jobs or were working fewer hours because of COVID-19′s gut-punch to the economy. Low-wage and hourly front-line workers have been those most likely to have jobs disrupted.

But with the moratorium over, Georgia Power shut-off electricity tojust over 40,000 customers from mid-July through August, saycompany reports. August’s number was about 25% higher than for a typical month. Most of those cut off didn’t jump into the special payment option, which the company said it aggressively publicized.

Electricity was eventually restored in the vast majority of the cases, according to the company. Georgia Power has about 2.6 million customers.

Typically, customers don’t face disconnections until they are at least 60 days behind on what they owe.

Under the repayment program Georgia Power put in place, customers have six months — until March — to pay the entire amount. They won’t have to pay late fees. In typical times, the company only offers installment plans on a case-by-case basis, and it said they are usually for far shorter periods.

“I commend them for not turning off the power,” said Brandy Wilcoxson, a 42-year-old single mom with two special-needs kids at home.

But the east Atlanta resident said she doesn’t think Georgia Power or the PSC are doing enough. Paying her bill will be tough, she said. “It’s dreadful. You want to put all your money toward it but you can’t because something else will collapse.”

Her $13-an-hour shifts as an armed guard were eliminated for months during the pandemic. Unemployment benefits helped, but didn’t last long enough, she said. When work started again, her hours were limited initially.

She faces about $800 in Georgia Power back-charges. Wilcoxsonwill pay about $130 a month extra. She is also $3,000 behind on rent for a two-bedroom home with a faulty air conditioning unit that she usually keeps off.

Company spokesman John Kraft wrote in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “Georgia Power has recognized the extraordinary burden our customers have faced due to impacts from the coronavirus, and we continue to work to help all customers maintain service.”

The company also increased and reallocated some of its community giving to help people in need, Kraft wrote.

Wan Smith of the Partnership for Southern Equity, a community organization, questioned why the elected public service commissioners didn’t get Georgia Power to cover some or all of what customers owe. The company, a state-enforced monopoly with rates set by the PSC, generated $1.7 billion in profits last year. It has remained profitable this year, though its finances dipped compared to the same periods in 2019.

PSC spokesman Tom Krause said businesses expect to be paid for the services they’ve provided. He said the moratorium on disconnections was lifted as the local job market was improving, and commissioners were concerned that customers were piling up large amounts of power bill debt.

Meanwhile, the PSC voted to allow Georgia Power to pass ontocustomers charges for other business expenses the company incurred as part of the pandemic.

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Ex-metro Atlanta police chief sues, says he was fired for being white

By Joshua Sharpe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

The former police chief of Forest Park filed suit this week, saying he was fired because he’s white. It’s the latest twist in his old feud with city officials.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, renews tensions between Dwayne Hobbs and the officials who accused him of various misconduct, including racial profiling, surveilling city council members and mismanaging the department. Hobbs, who worked at the police department for 45 years before his 2018 termination, denied all allegations.

The suit says the real reason Hobbs was fired was that the city wanted to hire a Black police chief.

Mayor Angelyne Butler said in a Wednesday email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she couldn’t comment in detail on pending litigation. “But let me be very clear, the allegation is an absolute, complete and utter farce,” she said.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Hobbs’ attorney Lance LoRusso declined to say which council members he believes said they wanted to hire a Black chief. In the suit, LoRusso notes that the interim chief chosen by the city was Black. Nathaniel Clark, who was sworn in as the permanent chief last year after a national search, is Black.

The northern Clayton County city of 20,000, nine miles south of Atlanta, is mostly Black.

The suit, which seeks damages to be determined at trial, says eight other white employees have been fired, but doesn’t name them. It also notes that the names of white people have been removed from buildings that were named after them. The reasons for the renaming of at least two city facilities weren’t discussed as decisions based on race, according to coverage of city council meetings by Clayton News Daily.

Hobbs was fired with a 3-2 vote of the city council in October 2018 — on the same night he thought the council would award him a generous retirement package. The retirement agreement would’ve included the naming of a firearms training facility after Hobbs, 24 months of severance pay, a retirement celebration and more.

But council members ultimately decided not to give it to him. Council members Dabouze Antoine, Latresa Akins-Wells and Kimberly James voted in favor of firing Hobbs.

“We never said we wanted a Black chief,” Akins-Wells said in a text Wednesday. “We did a national search so we didn’t know what color they would be. We just knew it was time for a change.”

After the change was made, the police department investigated how the office had been run under Hobbs.

In an October 2019 news release, city leaders said members of the department’s VIPER Squad had followed, monitored and photographed council members Akins-Wells and Antoine. The since disbanded squad also put cameras on poles near their homes and went through their garbage, the city said. This was all done because officers suspected the pair of taking part in voter fraud and illegal drug activities.

The new chief said no evidence had been found implicating Wells or Antoine were guilty. There was evidence, the city said, to raise suspicion about finances at the police department.

At the city’s request, the GBI investigated. It turned over its findings to the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office in May. The DA’s office didn’t immediately respond Wednesday when asked what the status of the case was.

Cheryl Synamon Baldwin of the Clayton County NAACP chapter defended the officials’ decision to get rid of Hobbs. Before he left, she said, she spoke with Black and white residents of Forest Park who reported witnessing Black people being profiled by city police.

“It wasn’t that they wanted a Black police chief,” Baldwin said Wednesday. “They wanted a police chief who was fair and honest.”

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Your work from home setup may cause back, shoulder injuries

By Courtney Kueppers, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #local-all

Is your work from home set up less than ideal? New research shows that it can be worth the investment to improve it in order to prevent injuries.

With many workers across the country home from offices for the foreseeable future amid the ongoing pandemic, Kermit Davis, an expert in office ergonomics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, found that static posture or position could lead to injuries in your neck, back and shoulders.

“The body doesn’t like static postures continually,” Davis said in a statement. “You don’t want to do all sitting or all standing all the time. You want to alter your position and change it up throughout the day.”

As the coronavirus outbreak quickly brought things to a halt months ago, employees scrambled to convert dining rooms, kitchen tables or even the couch into their main office space. However, without guidance on making these spaces ergonomically safe, these setups could be causing injuries.

Here’s what Davis recommends: when working from home, it’s good practice to break every 30 minutes. Trying getting up to move in order to minimize the chance of back and shoulder stress and injuries.

“You can go home but you aren’t allowed to take the monitor, chair and most office equipment,” Davis said. “You can use your laptop from home, but it is designed to be a short-term option. It should be used for a few hours while traveling. It is not meant to be used for eight or nine hours each day.”

Davis conducted research that surveyed nearly 850 people working remotely. In his assessment, Davis found many people had chairs that were either too high or too low. He also found that 69% of people working from home did not have proper back support on their chairs and even more did not have adequate lumbar support.

“The position of a computer monitor was often too low or off to the side. Three quarters of monitors were laptops, which were too low relative to the workers’ eye height,” Davis’ study found.

But to make your work from home setup more ergonomically sound, you don’t have to shell out big bucks.

Davis recommends things like placing a pillow on your chair to elevate yourself to the right height, using a rolled towel as lumbar support and placing a pillow under your laptop when using it on your lap, so it isn’t too low.

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Ex-Atlanta school administrator charged in Pennsylvania asbestos case

By Vanessa McCray, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

A former Atlanta Public Schools administrator faces criminal charges in Pennsylvania for allegedly failing to protect students from lead and asbestos exposure while she served as superintendent of a school district there.

Alexis Kirijan, who led the Scranton, Pennsylvania public school system from 2015 to 2019, was charged Wednesday with multiple counts of endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment. She later appeared in court for arraignment.

“Dr. Kirijan has dedicated her career to educating children. We will defend her against these allegations,” said her attorney Frank Nocito in a statement provided to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

An investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police and the state’s attorney general office found that she and two other officials, who also face charges, failed to fix drinking water and asbestos problems in school buildings despite testing that revealed issues.

Kirijan previously worked for APS. She was hired in 2008 and resigned in 2014 as the Atlanta district’s chief strategy and development officer.

The charges stemming from the lead and asbestos investigation are connected to her time in Scranton. A Pennsylvania police criminal complaint lists Kirijan’s current address as being in Atlanta.

A Pennsylvania grand jury recommended that criminal charges be filed against Kirijan as well as the Scranton district’s maintenance supervisor and a former director of operations. 

“The subjects of this investigation had a legal duty to care for students, were repeatedly advised by experts of dangerous levels of lead in drinking water, and they did nothing to fix it,” said Shapiro in a written statement. “The willful coverup of the lead and asbestos problems throughout the Scranton School District during the former superintendent’s and chief operating officer’s time in leadership was, as the grand jury decided, criminal.”

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Jimmy Carter to celebrate 96th birthday quietly on Thursday

By Christopher Quinn, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #local-all

Former president has given many gifts to Georgians and others

President Jimmy Carter turns 96 years old today, marking another milestone as the longest-living former U.S. president.

He and his wife, Rosalynn, have sequestered themselves in their home in Plains during the coronavirus pandemic, so the annual birthday party that the town throws is out.

A Carter spokesperson said the couple will spend a quiet day together.

Here’s a short list of those who have reason to celebrate his birth.

Metro Atlantans who enjoy the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. It was put under protection during his presidency.

Canoeists and fishermen: While Carter was governor, the Chattooga River was named a National Wild and Scenic River. He also vetoed legislation that would have dammed the Flint River at Sprewell Bluff.

Lovers of undeveloped Georgia beaches. Carter played roles in preserving both Cumberland and Ossawbaw islands.

Thousands of families living in Habitat for Humanity houses. The Carters have given their time and lent their celebrity to the Atlanta-based nonprofit for decades.

Millions of people in Africa and the Mideast. When the Carter Center started working toward the eradication of Guinea worm disease in 1986, 3.5 million people had it. Last year, only 54 did.

Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Guatemala. The Carter Center’s river blindness eradication program helped eliminate the disease from those countries.

Israelis and Egyptians. The peace he helped forge as president is still holding.


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UGA professor: In-person teaching endangers my 4-year-old, who has rare disorder

By Maureen Downey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

Faculty member implores University of Georgia to reconsider plight of teachers with family members at high risk from COVID-19

In a guest column, a University of Georgia education professor whose 4-year-old has a rare and catastrophic neurological disorder asks why UGA and other colleges cannot show more compassion and allow her and other faculty in similar situations to teach remotely during COVID-19.

Usree Bhattacharya is an assistant professor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education. Her daughter has Rett syndrome, a genetic neurological disorder that occurs almost exclusively in girls and leads to severe impairments, affecting nearly every aspect of the child’s life: their ability to speak, walk, eat, and breathe.

According to the Rett syndrome support organization: “Due to low core tone, poor cough and airway clearance and abnormal breathing patterns there is concern that our patients are at high risk for not doing well if they get infected.”


I grew up knowing in my bones that I wanted to be a college professor. I’ve never really wanted to be anything else, though there was a powerful if short-lived flirtation with a singing career. In 2016, when I landed a coveted academic position at the University of Georgia, the oldest public university in the nation, it was the culmination of a life-long dream. Our family quickly adjusted to life in the bustling college town of Athens.

Everything was coming together: We finally had the child we so desperately desired, Kalika, after seven heartbreaking miscarriages. And now, both my husband and I had landed tenure-track jobs at the same institution, of which in academia there are typically astronomical odds.

Our busy, joyful lives were shockingly interrupted when my baby girl was diagnosed with a catastrophic neurological disorder, Rett syndrome. RS is rare, affecting about one in every 15,000 live births, primarily girls. It leads to a near total loss of speech; limited functional hand use; mobility issues; breathing problems; sleep disruptions; seizures; and gastrointestinal issues.

Thankfully, one of the things that held me together after her diagnosis was immersing myself in my new line of research, on education in RS. Until recently, girls with RS had been classified as “ineducable” but revolutionary eye-tracking communication devices, such as the one my daughter uses to talk, are challenging prior perceptions. Another source of comfort was the classroom, where my students’ sharp, social-justice oriented engagement in issues of language and literacy gave me moments of intellectual escape. It was all momentarily bearable.

But I had never anticipated a pandemic would tear through the country, leaving more than 200,000 dead in its wake. I also never anticipated that a virus would transform my refuge from one disease into the hotbed of another.

Why? UGA has been firm that face-to-face instruction must proceed, even as it was named as the university with most confirmed infections just a few weeks ago. Stepping into the classroom for me is now filled with terror: Respiratory issues, a common complication of COVID-19, are the single most critical cause of death in RS. Entering a classroom with students posed only “minimal risks” per the institution, but even if I am comfortable with that level of risk for my own life, what right do I have to take it on for my daughter?


Exceptions to faculty members’ physical presence in the classroom have been granted to only those with Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations. This exception is also being applied for the Spring semester. Importantly, embedded within that mandate for instructional delivery is this line: “ADA accommodation is for the employee and does not extend to members of the employee’s household who fall into categories of increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.”

While the university has made significant efforts to provide a safe environment for faculty, staff, and students, and numbers have fallen over the past two weeks, I have also seen it highlighted that our county is the “20th worst” among all U.S. counties. The disease is still circulating aggressively within our community and campus — that can simply not be denied.

Many of our peer and aspirational universities have transitioned to online instruction: e.g., Harvard, MIT, and my own alma mater, University of California, Berkeley. Importantly, online instruction is neither new to UGA nor does it necessarily signal an inferior education.

There are educational practices that work better online, especially when you factor in the effects of socially distanced and mask-to-mask instruction in classrooms. Online education has been part of American academia since the ’80s; we now have decades of research to support its value, and also, thankfully, resources to make it rich and engaging in multiple ways.

It is absolutely possible to have students “learning effectively” and “engaging deeply” in online environments. We have no research yet to support the claim that the benefits of traditional face-to-face instruction are carried over in the constrained pandemic context.

To add to these issues, my daughter has been out of daycare since early March. She started school a few weeks ago, but our county, the home of UGA, feels it is too dangerous to open for in-person schooling; her instruction, therefore, occurs at home as well. Like many dual academic couples, my husband and I not only juggle our jobs, we also serve as homeschool educators, and, additionally, facilitate Kalika’s physical, occupational, feeding, and music therapies that occur virtually. A dozen hours with our wonderful babysitter helps us get through the week.

There is currently no accommodation for parents of Clarke County students who are faculty or staff within the UGA system. We are all struggling. I love my students; I have spent my life believing that teaching is what I was born to do. I am firmly committed to offering the best instruction to my students. I am hoping, however, for room for flexibility in the face-to-face instructional mandates for the Fall as well as for the Spring.

A 4-year-old little girl’s life is at stake. She already battles profound disabilities in her everyday life; to add to her challenges in life would be unconscionable. An official switch to robust, online-only instruction for the few graduate students in my seminars at UGA, when compared to the risk of exposing my vulnerable little girl to a terrifying and deadly disease, seems like a minor and simple fix.

I understand that legal decisions steer decision-making within higher educational institutions in evaluating these kinds of accommodations. However, educational policies must also be guided by the heart. In the context of the worst public health crisis to affect the United States ever, we should be coming together as a community and thinking of each other.

It’s one thing to ask that I risk my health for my profession; it’s another to ask me to risk my child’s life. We must make decisions ethically, thoughtfully, and most importantly, lead with compassion, as the flagship university of Georgia’s higher educational system.