Allow SMCPS educators to telework

Allow SMCPS educators to telework

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Tim Moraca started this petition to St. Mary's County Board of Education and

We write to you not only as educators, but as community members and parents. We are extremely concerned that SMCPS’ current plan to require educators to return to their school sites beginning August 24th (while 11- and 12-month colleagues are already back and at risk) is unsafe and unnecessary. On July 29th, prior to the SMCPS town hall, Governor Hogan stated, “We find ourselves at a fork in the road—a critical turning point where we could either continue making progress and continue heading in the right direction, or we could ignore the warnings and spike back up like much of the rest of the country.” SMCPS’ decision to not allow teleworking for teachers is doing just that: “ignoring the warnings.” 

Throughout the pandemic, the governor has been advising that employees who can telework should telework. On July 29th, when addressing plans to pause reopenings, Hogan specifically stated that work outside of the home is a “higher-risk location” because contact tracing data shows that 54% of recent transmissions occurred in work outside the home, a riskier location than both indoor dining (23%) and indoor retail shopping (39%). This data is extremely alarming to staff who are being ordered back to work sites with no benefit that could begin to measure up to the possible harm for us, our families, and our communities. 

By requiring staff to report daily to their assigned locations, SMCPS is also going against the major guidelines put forth by the CDC, OSHA, and the Maryland Department of Health:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
"Here are some strategies that businesses can use: Implement flexible worksites and implement flexible work hours."

2. US Department of Labor
"Establish flexible worksites and flexible work hours."

3. Maryland Department of Health
"Continue teleworking whenever possible. Give employees flexibility regarding returning to the office."

The only reasoning for educators to work from their buildings that we have heard from SMCPS so far, which came in the July 22nd Board of Education meeting, was a concern about technology, from navigating and troubleshooting the new learning platform to having reliable internet access, a whiteboard, and a larger computer monitor. This reasoning falls short on many fronts that have not only been left unaddressed but at this point seem to have been specifically neglected and avoided. First, if teleworking were to be an option, would SMCPS not trust its educators to come to the buildings to get assistance with technology or internet access or to access resources as needed? How does SMCPS think its educators have been completing their online training in the new learning platform this summer? How does SMCPS think its educators have been importing district curriculum into the new learning platform this summer for instruction this fall? Educators are probably one of the most well-versed professionals in working from home; after all, before the pandemic, it was well known that we spend countless hours on nights and weekends--with our resources--generating the quality instruction that SMCPS values and professes to deliver. Our whiteboards and larger classroom monitors are not what make us good educators.

While for some staff, their school buildings are the best location to effectively instruct virtually, for others, their homes are better for their and their family's health. To provide the families of St. Mary's County with the best possible educational opportunities within the limitations of virtual education, educators need the trust and space to be healthy, creative, and professional.

SMCPS plays a vital role in either decreasing or increasing the spread of the virus. To use the Governor’s words, SMCPS has come to a “fork in the road”- will it take unnecessary risks or do whatever it can to stop the virus in its tracks in our community? Providing us the option to telework is a simple and necessary decision to help keep our community safe.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 7,500!
At 7,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get a reaction from the decision maker!