SPF Elementary School Parents in Support of 5-day in School Single Sessions

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Concerning:

On behalf of the Scotch Plains Fanwood District Families of children in grades K-4.

Background:

On July 16th, 2020, less than two full months before school starts, a survey was sent to the District families. Per communication from Dr. Mast, the District Restart Committee reviewed the results of the July 21st District Reopening Planning Survey at their first meeting on July 22nd. On July 26th, 2020, the District families received communication from Dr. Mast (Superintendent), indicating that: “The results provided the district with data needed to initiate planning by identifying approximately how many students will be returning and in which one of the three different scenarios”. However, The survey provided no opportunity for parent input, therefore it could NOT have provided the district with the complete data needed to initiate planning.

As such, parents were given ONE WEEK to respond and propose changes to the communicated plan prior to the District submitting to the state.

At the highest level of concern and importance: The children will suffer the greatest impact as a result of the fractured learning structure.

IMMEDIATE REQUEST FOR RESPONSE AND ACTION:

Since late July, District parents have responded to the Superintendent and the BOE via direct calls, emails, public, community, and parent organized District Facebook message boards. Below are highlighted concerns of parents that has been shared with Dr. Mast and the BOE in email communication on Monday, August 3rd, 2020 (comments have been edited for clarity and summary):

For the District Elementary students K-4, we are requesting Dr. Mast and the BOE to offer:

1.  5 day, in person, single sessions for K-4
2.  Afternoon virtual learning for students would be optional for K-2
3.  Reassessment of plan every 45 days to measure success and amend as required
4.  Virtual Learning with a preference of “live learning” would be offered to accommodate the 20% of families that chose that option

This proposal aligns with other Districts such as: Cranford, Summit, Chatham, Kenilworth, Berkeley Heights.

COMMUNITY IMPACT

1.   The complexity of the current plan presents undue burdens including scheduling, financial, and otherwise on a large majority of the District parents; working, single, or otherwise.
2.   Due to the need for outside care, all parents will require to make “it work” which debunks Dr. Mast’s statements that “hybrid models and cohorts reduce community spread” when in fact we are all going to need some form of help.

-  This will lead to additional & unnecessary exposure from outside the classroom to school our kids

-  Working parents will have to choose incremental support from YMCA, JCC and local Daycare Centers to cover afternoon and virtual learning days, thereby increasing exposure for students, teachers, and families.


-  If coordinated pods are utilized at private homes, exposure increases with other people living there


-  Therefore it makes it impossible to “contact trace “ which refutes Dr. Mast’s statement that hybrid makes it “easy to contact trace”


-  The group at highest risk (teachers and staff) are still going to be in contact w/the same number of children, only on different days


-  The lack of in-person educational options disproportionately harms low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities, who are less likely to have access to private instruction and care

https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.google.com/url?q%3Dhttps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/reopening-schools.html%26amp;sa%3DD%26amp;ust%3D1596660133005000%26amp;usg%3DAOvVaw0iUrNiDaDLeHV42hnkMYe1&sa=D&ust=1596660133025000&usg=AFQjCNHlq-QcgUpeRr0YG-nrcFGJO2cIqQ

REFERENCE:

The National Association for the Education of Young Children “defines ‘early childhood’ as occurring before the age of eight, and it is during this period that a child goes through the most rapid phase of growth and development.

The New England Journal of Medicine states, "Until these children physically return to school full time, many will lose out on essential educational, social, and developmental benefits; neither the economy nor the health care system will be able to return to full strength given parents’ caretaking responsibilities; and profound racial and socioeconomic injustices will be further exacerbated. We believe that safely reopening schools full-time for all elementary school children should therefore be a top national priority."