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City Schools of Decatur names former top CDC official to COVID-19 advisory team

COVID-19 Decatur Trending

City Schools of Decatur names former top CDC official to COVID-19 advisory team

Elizabeth Wilson School Support Center, City Schools of Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA — City Schools of Decatur has named 10 members to the Public Health, Medical and Science COVID-19 Advisory Team. Former ranking Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official Nancy Messonnier and DeKalb County Board of Health District Health Director Dr. Sandra Valenciano have been named to the team.

About 70 parents submitted their interested to serve on the Parent or Public Health, Medical, and Science Advisory Teams.

“I have selected the parents to serve on these teams and scheduled the first two meetings for both of these teams to meet,” CSD Superintendent Maggie Fehrman said in her weekly newsletter. “These meetings will be held in a roundtable format, and members of the public can submit questions for the advisory teams to discuss in our upcoming meetings.”

The Public Health, Medical, and Science COVID-19 Advisory Team will review emerging COVID-19 data to provide guidance to the school district, and provide guidance about appropriate and applicable COVID-19 mitigation strategies and protocols to maintain a healthy learning environment.

Members of the Public Health, Medical, and Science COVID-19 Advisory Team are:

– Dr. Sandra Valenciano

– Jesse Blanton

– Michele Hlavsa

– Colleen Kelley

– Nancy Messonnier

– Hogai Nassery

– Daniel Payne

– Bianca Perri

– Rachel Smith

– Allison Walker

Messonnier worked at the CDC until she resigned in May 2021. Messonnier had served as director of the agency’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory since 2016. She also led the CDC’s COVID-19 task force but was reassigned from that role in April. She was moved to an incident management response team, according to Politico.

Early in 2020, when less than 100 COVID-19 cases had been reported in the U.S., she urged the country to start preparing for a massive outbreak that would drastically impact normal life.

Her warnings contrasted sharply with former President Donald Trump’s messaging, prompting him to threaten to fire Messonnier, according to CNBC.

The Decatur mom also signed a letter to the editor published in Decaturish in December 2020. She and her husband, Mark Messonnier, signed the letter as private citizens.

The letter was signed by various other public health and medical professionals who expressed concerns about the narrow use and misrepresentation of science in CSD’s justification to not provide sixth through 12th grad students an option to return to in-person learning at the time.

Valenciano was appointed as district health director for the DeKalb County Board of Health effective July 1. She stepped into the role of interim district health director in April when Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford joined President Joe Biden’s administration.

Before taking the position, Valenciano served as the Board of Health’s medical director for the division of community health and prevention services, beginning in July 2020. Since that time, she has led the COVID-19 response overseeing all Board of Health testing and vaccination efforts, in addition to standardizing several COVID-19 operating procedures, according to a press release.

She has served as an epidemic intelligence service officer in the respiratory diseases branch within the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She led domestic outbreak responses, evaluated national infectious disease surveillance systems, analyzed global immunization data and collaborated with domestic and international partners.

The COVID Parent Advisory Team will review established and proposed COVID-19 protocols and procedures, and provide the parent perspective before changes or new procedures are implemented.

Members of the Parent COVID-19 Advisory Team are:

– Jill Wasserman

– Sara Weathersby

– Shavona McCelp

– Becky Slemons

– Alduan Tartt

– Emily Master

– Jessica Murdock

– Marisa Gonzalez

– Kent Thagard

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