CCPS return to virtual schooling

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On January 4th, the Carroll County Public School (CCPS) Board of Education (BOE) voted (4-1) to restart hybrid teaching on January 7th despite the objection of the Superintendent, Steve Lockard, the county's chief health officer, Ed Singer, and the COO of the Carroll Hospital Center, Garrett Hoover. In December, the BOE decided to  re-evaluate the decision to return to all virtual teaching (except for some small group in-person classes) based on State BOE guidelines as follows:  at or below 5/100,000 positive cases per week and less than 5% positivity rate in our county (at  or above 15/100,000 cases the guideline states limited or no in-person programs). We have not met these metrics and cases are increasing. As of 1/06/21, Carroll County's positivity rate is 8.2% and as of 1/10/2021 it has 46/100,000 positive cases. Mr. Hoover described how the hospital is being strained and some surgeries must be cancelled. Science is being ignored. The more we gather in any setting, including schools, we give the virus legs to travel and spread in the community. Let's not put into harm's way the progress that has been made to have small groups of students gather for learning (special education, English language learners and Career and Tech). 

The health and safety of faculty, staff and students is not of primary concern to the BOE. Despite testimony from teachers and the CCEA Union representative describing health and safety concerns, the BOE voted to resume hybrid teaching. One staff person at a middle school has passed away from COVID-19. 

The main reason cited by the BOE to return to hybrid learning was the rise in students' failing grades. However, they didn't survey the community to see who would return to in-person learning and if, in fact, it is students who received failing grades in the first quarter. 660 less students are participating in hybrid learning this time than participated in October. At West Middle School only 39% of the student body returned for hybrid learning and 15 classrooms have substitute teachers supervising students. It is not an idea that is gaining traction among parents yet the BOE continues to put faculty, staff and students health and safety at risk. Hybrid learning by its nature divides a teacher's attention between the few students in the classroom and those who are online. How does this effectively address the need of students who are failing? 

Finally, teacher and staff morale is plummeting as the BOE demonstrates meeting after meeting that their well-being is of no concern. Our children are losing experienced educators to early retirement and long-term medical leave. BOE's short-sightedness will cause our children to have years of educational loss and lag by losing many educators to other school districts that will value their talents and humanity.

The BOE must reverse its January 4, 2021 decision and return to virtual learning until the State Board of Education metrics are met.