Russellville School Board member Jeff Carter clarified statements made during the Board of Education Meeting on Tuesday, July 21 inside the Gardner Auditorium.
"I want my kids in the classroom," Carter said during the meeting. "Heck, I've been trying to get my kids around people to get it [the coronavirus]. You know, so they can start getting their daggum antibodies for that crap. That's me. I know I don't speak for everyone up here."
Before that, Carter spoke to the teachers in the crowd and suggested parents should take more responsibility for their children's education if they choose to keep them home.
"I'm not ready to say all the burden is on you to teach if I'm keeping my kid at home," Carter said. "I don't want staff and faculty thinking the burden is on you [the teachers and faculty] for the education of a child people are staying home with."
Carter also said the situation is not desirable because a lot of the regulations put on the school were made without consulting with the schools first.
"Here is the guideline laid out by our government," he said. "Now we are doing the best we can to try and make it work. They didn't call and say what is the best way to teach in this pandemic, but y'all [the teachers and faculty] have done a wonderful job."
Some parents took to Facebook immediately after the meeting to voice their concern.
"Basically...he feels that those who have vulnerable children and choose to keep them home should take on the responsibility of their education," one parent wrote. "That's most if not all special education children. Let's also throw in that he thinks COVID is a joke and basically tries to get his kids exposed so they'll have antibodies. Is this how it's going to be for the children in this district? Let's just expose them, right?"
Some have called for Carter's resignation over the comment.
Carter clarified his statements with River Valley Now on Wednesday, July 22.
On exposing his own kids to the coronavirus, Carter said he was joking.
"It was not my most thought out statement," he said "My kids are healthy and there is uncertainty about developing antibodies, but with most viruses, we develop antibodies through exposure and vaccines. So, out of jest, I commented that I would like for my kids to have the antibodies."
And as for parents taking on the responsibility of educating their children if they stay home — Carter explained:
"When choosing option B for at-home learning through our district, there will be a larger burden on the parent for that child's education. The district is going to try and make it as seamless as possible. But we learned last spring that at home and face to face are a different medium.
"There isn't anything more serious for us," Carter continued. "And all constructive discussions are welcome. There's a survey that was sent out so we could get as much feedback as possible.
"All I can say is that I do respect the struggle our parents, students and teachers have on the safety of this coming school year. I don't wish COVID on anyone and do all that I can to keep my family safe. I want everyone to know that the district is going to put our best plan forward and try to make face to face and in-home learning as seamless as possible while providing the safest environment for all involved."