As a teacher, I am expected in less than 16 days to leave my children at home and risk my life to teach high school math to a group of 150+ smiling (and sometimes snarky) 15 year-olds. I’m expected to accommodate students throughout the day in small groups, all while continually assessing their areas of weakness, areas of growth. Not to mention, I have to be innovative in how I make math accessible for all my students.  I’m expected to do all of this in a small 900 square foot classroom, jam-packed with thirty desks with no windows and ventilation that reminds you of a prison cell.

I will have to do all of this in the middle of a pandemic with over 2.86 million cases of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with over 132,000+ deaths. Click To Tweet

It does not matter that in Atlanta the cases are continually climbing and younger people (age 17-25) are being considered as superspreaders, that  ICU beds are filling up with COVID-19 patients, or that teachers and parents are scared of being exposed, our Governor Brian Kemp has decided that profits are more important than people.

Last week, several metro-area school districts announced their re-opening plans with a mixture of hybrid, face to face, or all virtual options. Districts have laid out elaborate plans on how they’ll proceed with opening schools from start time, date, and lunch schedules, but not much has been said about protecting teachers, bus drivers, kitchen staff, and students. It seems as if superintendents, school boards, and the general public have lost their damn minds when they discuss reopening of school.

It seems as if superintendents, school boards, and the general public have lost their damn minds when they discuss reopening of school. Click To Tweet

There’s no talk of PPE gear (short of a mask), cleaning supplies, or CDC cleaning protocols. There’s no real talk of what happens when a child comes to school sick, except send them to the nurse’s office (which by the way is not housed by an actual nurse).

What makes it even more maddening is that there are conflicting reports with the CDC offered new guidance around the reopening of schools, the nation’s teachers unions are urging teachers to stay at home,  and the nation’s pediatricians calling for students to be in school.

All of these conflicting reports have left teachers, angry confused and scared that we are now being asked to be sacrificial lambs this fall. Just last week a parent demanded that I “figure it [reopening of schools] out fast because she needed things to go back to normal!” Dumbfounded, I knew that the short time of parents thanking us after having to homeschool their children for 3 months was gone.

As teachers, we’re now expected to ensure social distancing, temperature checks, along with making sure teachers have access to a rigorous curriculum- a task that even the BEST teacher who have difficulty doing.

Instead of risking students and teacher’s lives to COVID-19, all school districts need to:

Make all instruction from K-12, virtual with an emphasis on perfecting systems to make sure parents, students, and teachers are supported in making learning the focus.  This would allow public health experts to do their jobs without worrying about doubling infections among school-age children. 

Instead of risking students and teacher’s lives to COVID-19, all teachers need to:

Email their governors, superintendents, and school board members demanding them to make all learning virtual during the Fall 2020 school year. These people are paid for via the taxpayers (you) and this is a good time to remind them. Allowing students and teachers to have the fall for virtual learning gives school districts, families, and teachers time to allow this virus to subside and/or time for a vaccine to be developed. Instead of playing nice, REFUSE to return to your school buildings- remember all of us cannot be fired. This is not the time to be scared. 

Instead of risking students and teacher’s lives to COVID-19, all parents need to:

Use their collective voices to email their state governors, superintendents, and school board members demanding them to not only make virtual learning the option in the fall, but also that school districts come up with detailed plans around what reopening will look like in Spring 2021. Elected officials are paid for via the taxpayers (you) and this is a good time to remind them. Do NOT send your children back to school this Fall, make school districts do the morally right thing. 

The reopening of schools is not the time for Russian Roulette with students, teachers, and other school communities. This is not the time to put the economy over people’s lives.

COVID-19

 

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