Petition to Jay Inslee, Chris Reykdal, Washington State Board of Education
Reopen Washington Schools Safely
Governor Inslee, Superintendent Reykdal, and the Washington Board of Education, When you decided to close our schools in March, we appreciated the caution on behalf of our communities. However, the phased plan to reopen our state is leaving our children behind. ★ Schools Are An Essential Service ★ Schools are safe places for students to grow cognitively, emotionally, and socially. Schools provide safe spaces for physical activity—60 minutes a day is recommended by the CDC to decrease the risk of numerous diseases. Schools also enable teachers to offer tailored support and do their best work via in-person education. Schools must be reopened in fall 2020 with the option for 100% in-person learning. Safety precautions can be taken like handwashing and temperature checks. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be given to teachers and staff for free. However, students should be allowed to attend without masks, if requested. There are many reasons why schools must be reopened—at least one for every student in our state. Here are several supported by public health data. ★ Top 5 Reasons to Reopen Schools ★ Children are low risk. Children are less likely to get COVID-19 or get seriously ill. If they do, the pediatric mortality rate is 0.1% which is similar to the flu. According to CDC data, more school-aged children have died from the flu than COVID-19 in the U.S. (1-2) Recent reports about a rare inflammatory syndrome related to COVID-19 show it is treatable when diagnosed. Teachers have low risk from students. Multiple studies around the world indicate that there is minimal risk of child-to-adult transmission of COVID-19. (3-8) The risk of infection for adults is from other adults. Teachers can avoid this risk by staying primarily in their own classrooms. Staff meetings can be online or in outdoor spaces. Remote learning is insufficient. More screen time leads to lower scores. In a study by the National Institute of Health, kids who spend more than two hours a day on screens got lower scores on thinking and language tests. Children were found to have a premature thinning of the cortex, the outermost layer of the brain that processes information from the five senses. That’s why Steve Jobs was a low-tech parent who limited screen time for his kids. School provides a safe place for students. Reports to Seattle police of domestic violence increased 21% between Feb. 29 and March 31. Meanwhile, reports of child abuse are down close to 50% across Washington, an alarming drop indicating that victims are suffering in silence. "Without school, kids have no way to tell a teacher, counselor or other adult outside the house,” said Ben Santos, Chair of the Special Assault Unit in the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Working parents rely on schools for child care. Many are unable to work from home or afford alternative care for their children. In SPS, the largest district with 55,000 students, 32% of families are low-income and 4% are homeless. Working parents need schools to reopen to stay employed or return to the workforce. No families should be left behind as we rebuild our economy. All of our students deserve equal access to quality education. According to Dr. Dimitri Christakis, one of our nation's most prominent pediatricians, the benefits outweigh the risks of students returning to school. He recommends we should start with the expectation that students do return, then determine how to make that happen safely. "If we declared the meat supply a national emergency, we should do the same with the brain supply." Please reopen our schools with a full-time in-person option. The health benefits are far greater than the risks. Thank you,Washington students, families, and supporters ★ References ★ National Institute of Health“One interesting feature of this novel coronavirus pandemic is that very few children have become sick with COVID-19 compared to adults,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. (1) C.D.C.: Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance ReportFlu: 68 deaths for children ages 5-11 in the U.S. (6/6/2020). (2) C.D.C.: Provisional COVID-19 Death Counts by Sex, Age, and StateCOVID-19: 26 deaths for children ages 5 - 14 in the U.S. (6/10/2020) WIRED: The Case to Reopen Schools(3) Australia’s National Center for Immunization Research and Surveillance conducted a study of 18 coronavirus cases in 15 schools. Among the 735 students and 128 staff members in close contact with the 18 individuals, only 2 children became infected and “no teacher or staff member contracted COVID-19.” This study was in March and April, prior to any new sanitation or distancing requirements.(4) National Institute for Public Health for the Netherlands reported “no indications that children younger than 12 years were the first to be infected within the family...The virus is mainly spread between adults and from adult family members to children.” (5) British Columbia Center for Disease Control and Ministry of Health report: “There is no documented evidence of child-to-adult transmission. There are no documented cases of children bringing an infection into the home, from school or otherwise.”(6) COVID-19 transmission and children: the child is not to blame. Lee B, Raszka Jr WV. Pediatrics (2020).(7) Children are unlikely to be the main drivers of the COVID‐19 pandemic – a systematic review. Ludvigsson, JF. Acta Paediatr. (8) Children are not COVID-19 super spreaders: time to go back to school. Munro APS, Faust SN. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 05 May 2020. John Hopkins University: An Ethics Framework for the COVID-19 Reopening Process"The burdens of social distancing accrue significantly on younger people. We have already noted the significant risk and harms to children that school closures impose...with poor children and children of color suffering the most serious and long-lasting setbacks.""School closures undoubtedly threaten the well-being of children. Reopening schools, holding summer school, and allowing summer camps to be held would offer obvious benefits to children—and some policymakers have endorsed some of these proposals."
Petition to LGUSD School Board & Superintendent
Reopen LGUSD Schools
Dear LGUSD and Superintendent Paul Johnson, The purpose of this petition is to regain our rights to choose, as parents and taxpayers in Los Gatos, CA, to send our children to school utilizing the traditional classroom setting. On 6/4/20, the LGUSD School Board sent out a survey to families regarding 3 possible options for the 2020/21 school year - remote learning, hybrid, and full reopening. On 7/2/20 an email was sent out to families from the Superintendent stating "After careful consideration, we are currently moving forward with resuming some form of in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 school year.” On 7/15/20, parents received another email from the Superintendent confirming that schools would begin remotely but that their “plans for reopening are strong.” The email also included an arbitrary timeline for a hybrid schedule starting with Phase 1 on Sept. 8th and Phase 2 on Oct. 12th, etc. On 7/23/20, CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield released a statement saying “it is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall.” A sentiment he has repeated several times since, and which is echoed by Dr Fauci, among others On 9/10/20, parents were asked to take another survey to determine support for in-person learning. Nearly 70% of parents voted in favor of returning to in-person school. On 9/20/20, parents were informed that “The earliest that students could return would be during an Oct. 12-29 window.” Yet inexplicably, on 10/5/20, the LGUSD Superintendent, Paul Johnson, informed parents of his arbitrary decision to delay the hybrid learning option until at least January 2021, despite overwhelming parental support in favor of hybrid/in-person learning, and in defiance of the county and state guidelines, not to mention locally decreasing transmission rates. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “We recognize that children learn best when physically present in the classroom. But children get much more than academics at school. They also learn social and emotional skills at school, get healthy meals and exercise, mental health support, and other services that cannot be easily replicated online…”. Additionally, the current AAP recommendation for screen time per day is limited to 1 hour or less. Virtual learning far exceeds this medical recommendation and is in fact about to get worse for our middle schoolers. A new schedule is being rolled out on Oct 26th, whereby middle school students will be on zoom calls from 8:30am - 10:55am with just a 5-minute break in between periods (and after 70 minutes of solid screentime). For those students who have electives after "lunch", they will, on two days a week, have calls from 8:30am - 12:35pm with just two "breaks" - 5 minutes and 20 minutes (ostensibly for lunch). Virtual learning is not conducive for the students, the teachers, or the parents. Nor is it meant for long-term learning. Often the responsibility lays with the parents to ensure their children are following the schedule, sorting out technical issues, providing extra academic support, etc. Even more so with the lower grades. With many parents working, this pressure on parents is unattainable. Students are suffering immensely - emotionally, socially, and academically, and these are likely to cause long-term effects. They are feeling lonely and anxious, isolated, and depressed and are falling behind academically. Many students also report feeling demotivated - we worry that the damage will be irreversible. After nearly 8 months, they were looking forward to returning to the classroom. Los Gatos is fortunate enough to have some of the lowest transmission rates in the county, and with the county/state mandates of temperature checks, social distancing, and face masks, the chances of transmission are minimal. Furthermore, we pay hefty taxes for the privilege of being in one of the best school districts in the Bay Area, with some of the best teachers. We, as parents, whether working from home or outside of the home, are not qualified, trained, or educated in the way these teachers are, and cannot provide the quality of instruction and education that the classroom setting does. It is truly detrimental to the children's education experience and will set them back academically, emotionally, and mentally for the coming years. We strongly feel that the decision to delay the return of face to face learning, leaving only the remote virtual learning choice, is a one size fits all approach in which only one viewpoint is accommodated. It simply works for only those who want it this way. However, an overwhelming majority of families do not want to continue with virtual learning for their children, given the impact on their mental health, and learning loss. There are innumerous well-respected press articles quoting prominent child psychologists, scientists, and education experts agreeing that it is essential for students to return to in-person school without further delay. Indeed most studies have also found no link between re-opening schools and increased transmission rates. As parents, we can not stand by and allow our children to continue to suffer when there is no justifiable or legal reason to continue with the school closures. For the reasons stated above, we, the Parents, petition to reopen our schools for face to face learning without any further unnecessary delay. UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING FOR ADDED CONTEXT: - Under the guidance of the California Department of Public Health, K-12 schools may open for in-person instruction when a county has been in Tier 2 (the Red Tier) of the State’s Blueprint for a Safe Economy for 14 days. As of September 22, 2020, Santa Clara County remained in Tier 2 for 14 days. K-12 schools in Santa Clara County were therefore allowed to resume full in-person instruction on September 23, 2020. On October 13, 2020, the County of Santa Clara moved into the State of California’s Orange Tier (Tier 3). For context, the Orange tier allows: --Outdoor gatherings of up to 200 people and indoor gatherings of up to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. This includes movie theaters, churches, cultural ceremonies. --Indoor dining up to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.--Indoor museums and zoos up to 50% capacity--College sports activities without fans following County and State requirements--No capacity limitation for malls and other retail businesses. In LGUSD's reopening proposal, they have confirmed that: --families will have the choice to stay as remote learners from home, or return to-in-person school. --plans have been put in place for students and teachers to be socially distanced at all times on campus (including in classrooms), as well as the strict maintenance of small cohorts. --all those on campus (students, staff, and teachers) will be subject to daily temperature checks, mandatory face covering (unless medically exempted/eating), and encouraged to hand wash frequently. The chances of transmitting the virus under these strict, but necessary, safety measures are minimal. We are aware that the risk is not zero but it is unlikely to be zero for several years to come, if ever. Our community rates are low and steady and there is no reason for further delay. They have already been without school for over 7 months. People are able to eat inside restaurants (no masks) and host indoor gatherings and yet children are not able to return to school despite the mandatory strict safety measures proposed. How must it feel for our kids to know they are not a priority? That their education, their socioemotional development, their mental health are not important enough? We should be moving heaven and earth for our children. And as long as it is deemed safe to do so, we, as parents, will fight for their rights.
Petition to Brian Kemp, Georgia Department of Education
Parents calling on Governor Kemp to resume in-person classes for kids with special needs
Georgia public school districts that are planning to start the upcoming 2020-2021 school year with virtual only offerings are leaving kids with Individualized Education Programs (IEP) behind by denying eligible students a free appropriate public education or FAPE. More options and alternatives need to be made available for parents and their kids with disabilities. It doesn't make sense why day cares can stay open, but special education classes and services can't resume with appropriate safety measures. Many months of doing Zooms and virtual therapy does not really work for many children with IEPs. Not all children are alike and some kids need more than other kids do. Even under the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the state has an obligation to provide services outlined in each students individualized education plan. Many essential supports for children with significant disabilities cannot be provided virtually. These include: feeding, personal care, behavior support, supervision for elopement, hand over hand prompting. These services are required by IEPs (legal documents) but are not being provided. Districts need out of the box thinking during these “unprecedented times." By nature the needs of our students are very specialized so the one size fits all virtual solution is not appropriate. The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) considers the school system the “service provider” for school aged children with disabilities to ensure they can stay at home with their families in home and community based settings. Taking away this support makes them at risk for institutionalization as overwhelmed families lack the resources to obtain this care privately. On behalf of children and young adults between the ages of 3 and 22, enrolled in the public school system and eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and/or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974, parents are asking Governor Kemp to consider opening special needs programs by signing a new executive order that will allow necessary in-person special education instruction during the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.
Petition to Dr. George Arlotto, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Dr. Karen Salmon, Bobbi Pedrick, Nilesh Kalyanaraman, MD, Robert Neall, Carol Beatty, Dr. Darryl Williams, Jeffrey Blank, Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelise, Dr. Daniel D. Curry, Dr. Patricia W. Saelens, Dr. Steven A. Lockard, Dr. Jeffrey A. Lawson, Dr. Kimberly A. Hill, Mr. W. David Bromwell, Dr. Theresa R. Alban, Barbara Baker, Dr. Sean Bulson, Dr. Michael J. Martirano, Dr Karen Couch, Dr. Jack Smith, Dr. Monica Goldson, Dr. Andrea Kane, Dr. James Smith, Dr. John Gaddis, Dr. Kelly Griffith, Dr. Boyd Michael III, Dr. Donna Hanlin, Mr. Louis Taylor, Dr. W. Robert Hair, Russell Leone
Special Education In-Person Classes for ALL Maryland IEP Students
The "discrepancy in delivery of a free and appropriate public education (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Parts A–D)" due to virtual learning is resulting in "severe consequences" and virtual learning "disproportionately affect individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities" Virtual learning is not a viable solution for our special needs students who have a range of conditions and disabilities that require substantial support and services in order to thrive and succeed. This includes severely disabled students integrated throughout the school system who are not assigned to "Special Centers." “There are simply kids that will never, ever have that quality learning that we all desire to advance online, no matter what kind of support we provide, even if we individualize it,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said While some students on Individualized Education Plans (IEP) may be supported virtually, many like my severely disabled daughter cannot be. The support and services provided to students under IDEA are not a luxury that can just be suspended. These supports and services are very much an essential and critical service to our children. Far too many staff members and parents have put way too much time into IEP’s and fulfilling those IEP’s for our most vulnerable children to be left on hold and regress in their skills and abilities. Many children will never regain lost skills and abilities and many others will never gain skills and abilities if left on hold. We need all Maryland school districts to provide meaningful face to face instruction and related services to provide the education, supports, and services our disabled students require and are guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. We need the Maryland Department of Education, Dr. Karen Salmon to provide more specific directives to the school districts like the directive she issued to close schools so all disabled students can get the education, support, and services they require. Montgomery Co Autism Student Hospitalized because Virtual Learning Does Not Work Richard Engel: Kids with special needs are not OK right now. Neither are parents We are calling for an option, not mandatory attendance Urging in-person instruction, Anne Arundel parent of special education student starts petition AACo parents call for in-person school option for special needs students Parent urges Anne Arundel County schools to resume in-person learning for students with disabilities Just to share one of the medical conditions, here is a video of my daughter showing what Rett syndrome is and some of the challenges: https://youtu.be/OwpYRe1zG0A
Petition to Chris Ragsdale, Jaha Howard, Randy Scamihorn, Governor Brian Kemp
Reinstate Face to Face learning option for Cobb County Schools
The purpose of this petition is to regain our rights to choose, as parents and tax payers in Cobb County, GA, to send our children to school utilizing the traditional classroom setting. On 7/10/2020, the Cobb County School Board informed the residents of Cobb County that we would have 2 options from which to choose for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. The 2 options available were face to face learning and virtual learning. On 7/16/20, the Cobb County Superintendent, Chris Ragsdale, arbitrarily made the decision to eliminate the face to face learning option completely. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “We recognize that children learn best when physically present in the classroom. But children get much more than academics at school. They also learn social and emotional skills at school, get healthy meals and exercise, mental health support and other services that cannot be easily replicated online…”. Additionally, the current AAP recommendation for screen time per day is limited to 1 hour or less. Virtual learning would far exceed this medical recommendation. Many families require both parents working outside of the home. Virtual learning is not conducive to this kind of family structure as neither parent would be available to provide instruction. Some children live in abusive situations where time spent at school is their only safety and reprieve. Many others receive their only substantial meal while at school for the day. Still other students have special needs that only a school setting with the properly trained staff is qualified to provide. Personally, our children are very unsettled and upset by the decision to eliminate face to face learning; after nearly 5 months, they were looking forward to returning to the classroom. Furthermore, we pay hefty taxes for the privilege of being in one of the best school districts in the state of Georgia, with some of the best teachers. We, as parents, whether working from home or outside of the home, are not qualified, trained, or educated in the way these teachers are and cannot provide the quality of instruction and education that the classroom setting does. It is truly detrimental to the children's education experience and will set them back academically, emotionally, and mentally for the coming years. We strongly feel that the decision to eliminate face to face learning leaving only the remote virtual learning choice is a one size fits all approach in which only one viewpoint is accommodated. It simply works for only those who want it this way. However, many others do not want virtual learning for their children due to the AAP's recommendation and the associated negative impacts to the childrens' health and well-being. For the reasons stated above, we, the Parents, petition to regain our choice of face to face learning for the 2020-2021 school year.