Online Until Cases Decline - CMS Board Enact "Plan C"
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Dear Superintendent Winston & CMS Board of Education Members,
As educators, it is our job to educate, enrich, enhance, and ultimately shape our students' futures through our job. We are Mecklenburg County residents and teachers from across the CMS School System in Charlotte, NC. We are writing this letter to implore you to vote for “Plan C” as the initial method for instructional delivery when CMS resumes next month.
We would like to spend the remainder of this communication outlining a succinct justification for a virtual approach and offering some common questions/concerns we have received from fellow district residents, and CMS colleagues, that we feel should be addressed during the Board’s deliberations.
To begin, the current data available are not sufficient to support the resumption of in-person instruction in a manner that ensures the safety of students, teachers, and their families. There is still far too much that is not known about the transmission of COVID-19 and the role that schools may play in community spread. Just in recent weeks, we have seen multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 in Charlotte childcare facilities (our community’s closest point of comparison).
Mecklenburg has also seen record hospitalization rates for COVID-19 in recent weeks. If this “experiment” of reopening the schools within CMS goes awry, we risk further taxing hospital capacity, putting not only ourselves and CMS students at risk, but all Charlotte and Mecklenburg residents.
Additionally, our own CDC has deemed the reopening of schools and universities as the “highest risk” for the spread of COVID-19. Districts larger than CMS, such as the Los Angeles and San Diego Unified School Districts, have taken this into consideration and elected to begin the upcoming academic year in a virtual setting. A virtual approach is the best option for mitigating the risks associated with reopening.
The following is a list of the more specific questions/concerns proposed by our fellow residents, and CMS colleagues (bear in mind that this list is not exhaustive, and was merely the result of many relatively brief and informal discussions).
1. Who will teach virtual classes?
2. What will be the protocol when teacher/student/staff tests positive?
3. What about if a teacher/student/staff family member tests positive?
4. Will teachers/staff be paid for time off if positive or required to quarantine?
5. How will teachers/students/families be notified of positive cases?
6. Who will conduct daily symptom checks of teachers/students/staff?
7. What is protocol for symptomatic people?
8. What are the cleaning protocols that will be followed?
9. What products will be used to clean? Some require 10 mins to be effective. Some are toxic or cause allergies.
10. CDC recommends only using reusable masks for 30 days. What happens when we run out of the 5 masks being provided?
11. Will teachers receive hazard pay for resuming in-person instruction during a known pandemic?
12. How will social distancing realistically be implemented in schools with large student populations? For example, if students need to visit the restroom, are they meant to be escorted individually? If so, how do we mitigate the negative impact that this will have on instructional time?
13. In the event that a teacher is diagnosed, or must miss school for another reason, and a sub cannot be found, how will this be addressed? Will students be dispersed to other classrooms and, if so, how will we address the impact this will have on social distancing?
14. Is the tumultuous nature of resuming in-person instruction, with a high probability of having to cease it again in the near future, really in the best interest of our students? Should consistency not be made paramount?
15. Will teachers be measured using the same performance standards as in previous years? Will the expectation be that in-person instructional delivery remains the same format as in previous years?
16. Will students face disciplinary consequences for failing to wear/maintain access to face coverings? If so, how are teachers meant to address these, admittedly fraught, situations?
What should have become clear at this juncture is that the hybrid model presents a number of very prominent issues that have not been adequately addressed. Additionally, this model does not necessarily serve the best interests of district residents, our students, or our teachers and district staff. Enacting “Plan C” will help to ameliorate many of these concerns, and allow the district to better allocate resources in a manner that ensures that the needs of our students and staff are met, without the unnecessary health and safety risks (not to mention logistical issues) resulting from the implementation of “Plan B.” Thank you for your time and consideration.
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