Comment of the Week: A Public School Teacher Asks the Tough Questions About Reopening – - Freelance Rack

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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Comment of the Week: A Public School Teacher Asks the Tough Questions About Reopening –

Posted on July 11, 2020 at 10:33 am by Carol Tannenhauser

re: keeping all who return to public school buildings safe on the article “City’s School Plan Will Mix In-Person and Remote Learning; Local Parents See Challenges to Making it Work”

Jamie says:

I am a public school teacher. Although I miss being in a school building and teaching my students – and recognize that remote learning pales in comparison – there are many unanswered questions…

-Poor ventilation – many school buildings do not have HVAC systems. Even in newer school buildings, like the one I work in, they can’t even control heating and AC (sometimes it is freezing cold or boiling hot).

-Sanitizing – prior to Covid, the custodians were already complaining that they did not have enough time to mop the floors each day, let alone properly sanitize every classroom, bathroom, hall, etc. I had to buy my own soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray and wipes for my classroom. Prior to school closing, (I had 8 students out sick – each were out for 2+ weeks, but they could not get a covid test.)

-Many staff members take public transportation to work. I’m sure many parents of students will also take public transportation to their respective jobs. Once one person gets infected, it will spread like wildfire in a school. The only staff exempt from having to go into a school building will be those who can get medical documentation stating such. Staff members live with others who may be immunocompromised, but are not exempt. Teachers who may have kids at home with compromised immune systems do not have the option to keep their kids at home to do remote learning exclusively bc the parents have to go in to teach.

-Many elementary schools no longer have individual desks; we have tables that are shared amongst 4-6 students and rugs that the children congregate on. Are we getting plexiglass dividers?

-Practically everything in PreK-1st grade is shared in the classroom, from books to pencils to toys. Some of these items can be made to be individualized but things like books and wooden blocks….Is the expectation that these items be sanitized prior to another child touching them?

-It is not feasible to expect the youngest children (PreK-1st grade) to keep their masks on and to socially distance. It is hard enough for grown adults to wear their masks walking on the street.

-So much of early childhood learning is about engaging with others, playing together, working in partnerships and in groups, learning how to read people’s emotional, etc. How do we continue to go about educating in this way with social distancing and mask wearing?

-If teachers are working in school buildings 5 days a week and prepping for that, who will be doing the remote learning portion? It is not feasible for one teacher to do both.

-Childcare will be a disaster! Families will have to find childcare for the days their child is not assigned to be in (with, hopefully, a childcare provider that will continue to have the child engage in remote learning on those days). Where will the children of teachers go on those days? The teacher cannot just stay home with their own child bc s/he has to be at work to teach other children.

The children that suffer the most and that need the most through this pandemic are the low-income, no-income, and/or immigrant students, and students with special needs. There are no answers from the DOE on how to address any of these issues.

* This comment far exceeds the 100-word limit, which is still in effect (give or take.) But sometimes the content of a comment merits flexibility.

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