Sisters and Brothers,
This is a new fight for us. We are in this fight for our very lives. We are seeing the willingness of the state and federal government to be cavalier with our health and our families. Their conversations do not include the educators. As educators, we are the first to exclaim that students need to be in school, for their academic and for their social-emotional well being. Children need to learn to work together, and need to learn to play together. They need support from us when they have insecurities of all types. Our students are an extension of ourselves. We are willing to protect them from physical, mental and emotional harm. Therefore we are not willing to endanger them, or ourselves by knowingly putting them or us in harm’s way.
As educators, we rose to a giant challenge in March, turning our entire world of teaching inside out to make sure our students were still educated, and were still held to the high standards we employ while in school. We are willing to turn emergency remote educating into online learning for the time being, until we know we are safe. As an example: If I am in class with my students, and one of them tests positive but is asymptomatic, that student can still infect others who may have some sort of health issue. (Personally I have chronic bronchitis, so it is a real fear for me.) As a middle school teacher, my student travels during the day to other classes. So if the student has already been in 4 classes, then comes to mine, all the students and teachers who were in contact with the student that day must quarantine for 2 weeks. So an entire team of teachers, most of an entire team of students, anyone who walked that same hallway, the students they came in contact with for their Unified Arts classes, anyone who came in contact with them (the whole school), is now out. If the student stopped in on the nurse, or in the office, the administrative team and all in the office are out. (And we all know that school doesn’t run without our secretaries!) It is that quick.
What to do then? We are working on that. There are multiple committees looking at reentry plans. There are many people spending hundreds of hours poring over the options, the abilities of the cleaning staff to deal with this properly, the money it will take to do this right, and the best ways to educate our students while keeping them and us safe. We are looking at how to educate preschool children during this stressful time, how to best educate all students at their levels, and at their needs.
Thank you for continuing to send your ideas, thoughts, vents, and connections to me. It is important that we are looking at all angles. We are staying strong to keep you safe.