LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (CBS46) - Some Gwinnett County Schools employees will have to report to work Monday despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

According to the school district, employees being told to come in are essential in ensuring students are able to learn remotely. However, the family of a Gwinnett County teacher is saying not so fast to Superintendent J. Alvin Willbanks.

“It’s frustrating, it’s disheartening to know that he would allow his employees to go to work knowing that this is an uncertain time.”

In a statement to CBS46, the district said there won't be more than 30 people at the county's largest school. That's 20 more than Governor Brian Kemp's order.

"We estimate that at our very largest school there would be fewer than 30 people reporting (approximately 10 SNP staff, 10 custodians, and 8 leaders and support staff). As they are the only people in the building, social distancing will still be in effect.”

"They have been working from home they’ve been meeting with their grade levels through zoom session why all of a sudden they are now considered essential employees?,” an employee asked.

Governor Kemp ordered all K-12 schools would remain closed until the end of the school year.

But in an email to teachers the superintendent says, “You, too, are valiant warriors and your work also is “essential.”

The family member of an educator went on to say,“Four county employees have already tested positive so you’re not protecting your employees.”

With her father already having pre-existing conditions she is more concerned.

“If it hits me I’m done. I’m done. I’m not going to make it.”

The family is asking the superintendent to think of the community as a whole.

“I don’t think he’s analyzing this from the perspective of the families it is 'I want to get these workers back in here try to justify their paycheck' as opposed to thinking about the broader picture.”

CBS46 reached out to the Governor’s Office as well as the Gwinnett Newton Rockdale Health Department but have not yet receive a response.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(25) comments

Chelsea Martin

Interesting article!


The comments to protect a school system that is going against what the government said no more than 10 people schools should be closed and I hope that this does not set an alarm off for the rest of the schools to start opening in the state of Georgia.

While the School of the CEO superintendent is crying out Yellow River how the schools are losing money which they should be closed in the first place there lies accountability no credit recovery no summer school $250 a pop for summer school $150 a pop for credit recovery. No funding for Iss nor Oss, no funding for corruption. Everyone needs to contact OSHA as the school system week for had not been sanitized we want to know what company have you guys contracted to sterilize and sanitize the building and the school buses: no the school is more in debt, only thing this man is worried about money loss: Too many top-heavy administrators and area superintendents! they got 2 GO Three board seats are up it's time to elect new board members:


First of all shame on the USDA for not handing out food vouchers to the needy families of the 68 Title 1 schools in Gwinnett county! Those sames schools are funded 38m to have 85% go towards the top heavy administrated school system: week 5 no talk of disinfecting & sanitizing the schools nor the school buses: Nor Media on deep Cleaning the Schools: Week 4 several schools started chiming in on students who hadn't been online yet due to having no electronics nor Wi-Fi. While the school system glorified marketing on feeding needy students those same needy students needed the Bare Essentials to get online with the SO Called digital school system! That remove curriculum books from the school system more than 3 years ago now and provided no Chromebooks nor electronics for students to check out and take home: Parents are unaware that Gwinnett County Schools even has Chromebooks & laptops that should of been checked out to the students day 1! GCPS rule is 1 electronic per family with no internet as an option: #GCPS are not trained to handle large classrooms nor are they trained to teach digital learning from home ! During legislations constituents are demanding training from Educators for digital Learning! this should be mandated across the state, too much focus on over disciplining and not enough focus on educating students in the first place: shame on Gwinnett & Its Poor Leadership for not closing the District to disinfect and sanitize the first week The Gov Said Close the Schools! this is a national pandemic that red leaders are not taking serious: ignore ignore ignore now we got a national Pandemic. Robinhood if it doesn't affect the rich then why worry. Now the superintendent is crying the District is spending millions of dollars just to keep the doors open why are they open in the first place? I guess it's time the furlough you're top heavy school system over 900 assistant principals, principles & area superintendents: time the furlough Gwinnett County : 51% of the School Budget goes Toward Administration and 85% of Title 1 funding goes toward Administration: 3 board seats are up in Gwinnett County and it is time 4 Change. #CbsNew #PKMartinEduChair #GwinnettDems #Ajc #Helpneedy kids who don't have Electronics nor the internet during this pandemic.


I am so glad you posted this. GCPS lose sight of the kids which is the real reason they are supposed to be here. Wilbanks looks for prestige and it trumps whats actually hood fir the district. He really needs to go and someone who actually accepts the diversity of the school district needs to come in. He only cares about his precious few schools in the areas where parents are wealthy.


@CBS46 this is an irresponsible headline. Not all employees have been called back to work, those of us who are at the schools (essential) are practicing social distancing; custodians returned after spring break and are assigned to separate areas of the building, again, practicing social distancing. If not for the SNP employees, many of our students wouldn’t be receiving breakfast and lunch. We are fielding phone calls daily from parents regarding online access, enrollment, etc; we are supporting education! No one is forced to come in to the building. Teachers are still working digitally (from home) so I don’t quite understand the family of an educator who is complaining. Please get all the facts before you report. And what about MARTA? Are they only allowing 9 riders on a bus at a time?


Come On Bulldog!! This is about Gwinnett County schools and its leadership, first of all the schools never even bothered to shut down to disinfect and sanitize the school buildings nor the school buses, this is an health hazard during a national pandemic! Week 5 and Roach is staying they are supposably cleaning the schools with Staff in the Buildings in the middle of a pandemic, NO One should be in the building serving food to anyone! those same needy kids don't have Electronics nor Wi-Fi to get online for digital learning. Now the superintendent is crying a yellow River that the school system is wasting money being open when they should be closed in the first place! Gwinnett Educators are not trained to teach digital although they glorify they are an electronic friendly school system! it's time to start furlough the top-heavy administration. #Stop shaming the news media for covering a story this school system is wasting our tax dollars and they need to be held accountable. #CoverUp! OSHA needs to come and investigate all of these schools that are open and mandate that they have disinfectant all Ga schools and buses, as this could jeopardize more people's lives! give me a break bulldog! thanks for covering the story CBS!

Jimmy Fleming

I can't believe that CBS 46 thinks this is a valid story. The School System has taken amazing precautions to protect its employees and students. To suggest that having 30 people spread out in the largest school in Gwinnett is a violation of the Governor's order is ridiculous. Superintendent Wilbanks and the School Board should be commended for keeping their employees engaged and everyone safe.

I understand that people have concerns. Perhaps if they have a personal matter they should call HR and work it out. Gwinnett offers vacation and sick leave as well.

CBS 46--this was a horrible story.


I think, Mr. Fleming, you need to get your facts straight. Have you driven past any of the schools in Gwinnett County lately? I know someone that works at a Gwinnett Co. School, and they were told Friday they were to report back to work. Actually, people have been forced to work at the schools this entire time of crisis! This is a DIRECT violation of the Governor's order. I pray this story does not go to sleep and further investigation is pursued. Next thing you know, Gwinnett will be calling for all students to come back. Their superintendent needs to get in to the real world and show the employees of Gwinnett County Schools that they are important too. All other school systems seem to be taking care of their employees! Get with it Gwinnett County!


Mr. Fleming has no idea the severity of this situation.


Nope not until corona hits home for him. That is the case for most people.


What he needs to be is replaced. He doesn't care and never have. Maybe one day people will get it through their heads. His family and grandchildren more thank likely are not effected. Why would he care if a bunch of teachers and students die from Corona.


You cannot possibly have a stake here. You are definitely overruled by those who are actually expected to be on the front lines at the schools right now. GCPS taking “amazing precautions”? They don’t even provide protective gear for those employees. That is why there are now employees testing positive for this virus. Do you think Wilbanks is concerned about this? I don’t think so...


Jim are you in an Gwinnett County Employee of the school system? WEEK 4! And no word of what company was contracted to disinfect and sterilize the school building and the school buses nor when would they have time to disinfect since the school was so busy running around marketing that they had to feed the 68 Title 1 schools of the needy students those same needy students are in need of electronics and internet to do the digital learning! Give West hat 600 laptops, Week 1, the teachers were told that they could not hand out the laptop under no circumstance several schools told students they need to use their cell phones which are not compatible to the digital learning in the first place shame on the school system for hoarding Electronics. Shame on the schools for not sterilizing the buildings the 1st week the schools closed! Now the superintendent is crying and Yellow River how the school is losing money there online it's time to start furlough Jimmy! Too many area superintendents assistant principals and principals in the first place this is the reason why the schools are suffering financially due to the top-heavy administration! Profiting off of summer school and Credit Recovery classes. #exposed thank you CBS for covering this story, when a school system solely focuses on overpopulating the schools and not the overall student achievement and teachers have not even been trained to teach electronically online in the first place! shame on the county and shame on the leadership three board seats are up goodbye time for change! This is the community issue you guys are jeopardizing the community and continuing the spread of the coronavirus by having these unsanitized buildings open in the first place Jimmy!

Terri Michal

That's why I wrote this article. Public education employees need to know their rights under the new federal job protections provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act


I wouldn't apologize for writing the article. Its your job. However, I'd like to know why do things like this get printed quickly and i sent video of my daughters attack and never got a call back?


Once again, I hope you are following up on this article. You hold the keys for an investigation to begin. Maybe save some lives. I read the article you suggested. I would be interested to see if Gwinnett Public School System would actually comply with those laws stated in the article. They are not complying with the laws set in place concerning COVID-19, what makes one think they would concerning the FMLA act. I hate unions, but I guarantee, if the schools were union involved, this would NOT be happening. They protect their members unlike Gwinnett County School System! Wonder if the superintendent is going to work everyday or all his office staff???


Hopefully people will remember this when elections start. He needs to go. He doesn't fit in with the diversity of the district. His convoluted thinking has a trickle down affect with Admins and teachers. The karma part of this is, when I reported Dr Christopher Ray of gwinnett online campus, for physically attacking my daughter, the school meaning Ginger Oneal, stood by and watched the assault and reported lies. Neither party received consequences even with video and child service involvement. . The district lied to state and government agencies and this left my daughter, with a horrible discipline record and feeling vulnerable and exposed. Something she'll endure as long as this corona epidemic. Now admins and teachers reaping exactly what they sowed. The inhumane treatment of children of color and the parents that advocate for them. Schools like summerour will get the worst of this not saying they aren't deserving, the leadership is poor and many of the teachers have the same persona as Wilbanks. God save the souls of the few teachers that actually love teaching and like children. This is certainly not fair for them to endure.


Your post has nothing to do with the information in the article. The chip on your shoulder is too big for you to do anything positive about your situation. Try working at a school for a while, and come back and let us know how that works out for you. You really have no idea.


Trust me im trying to trust the process because what you call a chip, I call protective and I will NEVER back down. Im doing more about this situation than you need to know. GCPS is not the giant it think it is. On a more positive note.. I really can careless what you think. You and your opinion is about as valid as dog poo on my shoes.


Thank you for sharing your story other parents and families need to get on here students need to get on here and share their horrific stories of the school system The Continuous racketeering and cover-up. When any family has a complaint about any unethical educator within this toxic school system the whole condemnation comes down on you. Tell your story.. when minority families have a issue they suddenly become retaliated against and abused when a white family has a problem they will remove the problem crew Middle School dr. Stacy perfect example. Too many chiefs at the table and no Direction. Why are the Republicans acting like a pandemic isn't going around shame on the school system for not sanitizing the school building immediately nor the school.


I actually have worked at the schools in several clusters so don't make assumptions. I'm speaking from inside the walls not the outside.


Who do you think has been preparing the lunches and maintaining the buildings, the Easter Bunny? C'mon CBS46, get your act together.


Well you cant have one part of an organization be essential and not the other. Its unfair. Nonetheless, some teachers are reaping exactly the karma they put out every year. MANY of them just don't give two craps.its just a iob because they didnt make in their field of choice. It sucks for those teachers and staff that actually care about students. They dont deserve this at all.


You really have no idea what you are talking about. Try focusing on something you can do to make your situation better-blaming others is not the answer for you.


Actually I do and and an abuser is always at fault of their actions. Its just unfortunate that the district and people like you are in denial of who and what they are.

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