Schools across Metro Atlanta will be opening next month. What’s the plan for DeKalb Schools?
DeKalb Schools’ new fearless leader, Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris, and her team will be presenting the School Re-Opening Plan at the July 13 board meeting. At this time, I don’t have any advanced knowledge of what the plan may look like. I am as eager as everyone else to see what is presented on Monday.
DeKalb Schools Opening Day: I expect DeKalb Schools to push back opening day to Aug 17.
Virtual Instruction – Note: There are two types of virtual instruction. DeKalb Flex Academy and Forsyth Virtual Academy are on online schools separate from the brick and mortal schools. These virtual schools have their own course work and teachers.
The other type of virtual learning is where you have the same teacher and course work as the in-person traditional learning, but you are in that class virtually on that day. A teacher shared with me this week that she attended “Virtual Summer Camp” on how to conduct live virtual lessons via Microsoft Teams. She went on to say, “We were given daily Power Points, a schedule, with time for independent learning.”
I wasn’t able to ascertain what type of virtual learning some of the school districts are offering. I’m also not sure how viable it is for teachers to have in-person and virtual classes at the same time. Clayton schools will be on an A/B schedule with half of their students in-person and half of their students virtual Mon – Thur. Not quite sure of the logistics of that.
Here is what the other school districts in the Metro Atlanta are doing.
Atlanta Public Schools (APS) – APS has a new superintendent as well. School is currently scheduled to start on Aug 10, but they have not released any details of how they will open.
Clayton County – Clayton has not pushed their start date back and will open Aug 3. Clayton county will follow the moderate risk plan with half the students going on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other half the students on Tuesday and Thursday.
Cobb County – Cobb has pushed their start date back to Aug 17. Parents will be able to choose from in-person traditional instruction or remote virtual instruction.
Fayette County – Fayette will open Aug 10. Parents will be able to choose from in-person traditional instruction or remote virtual instruction. Remote virtual instruction will be scheduled real time lessons combined with asynchronous learning experiences. Attendance and student online engagement will be recorded. Assignments will be graded, and grading practices appropriate for a full-time virtual classroom will be developed.
Forsyth County – Forsyth will open Aug 6. Grades 6 – 12 may attend the Forsyth Virtual Academy. K – 5 parents will be able to choose from in-person traditional instruction or remote virtual instruction. The K-5 virtual option is still being developed.
Fulton County – It is speculated that Fulton County schools will push back their start date to Aug 17. Fulton parents, however, will be able to choose from in-person traditional instruction or remote virtual instruction.
Gwinnett Schools – Gwinnett met earlier this week to push back their start date to Aug 12. Parents will be able to choose from in-person traditional instruction or at home digital learning.
Hall County – Hall County will start Aug 7 with in-person traditional instruction. Parents and students may utilize Hall County Schools’ Virtual Learning Platform (a full-time online experience).
Henry County – Henry will start Aug 3. Parents will be able to choose from in-person traditional instruction or remote learning classes from home.
Marietta City – Marietta City Schools will start Aug 4. Parents will be able to choose from in-person traditional instruction or remote virtual instruction. 20% of the parents indicated in a survey that they wanted a virtual environment. Marietta City Schools is in the process of building virtual classes and assigning virtual teachers.
Rockdale County – Rockdale will have a soft opening on Aug 24 with all students doing remote virtual instruction. The first official day of school will be Sept 8 with a Hybrid Model of in-person and virtual (Independent) learning to reduce the number of students in the buildings at one time. Details pertaining to the Hybrid Model and Independent Learning will be out in the coming days and weeks.
DeKalb Schools Re-Opening Update
July 5, 2020 – Will DeKalb Schools open on August 3rd as planned and what will learning look like when DeKalb Schools opens? Marshall Orson is currently the chair of the DeKalb Schools Board of Education. He addresses some of the most frequently asked questions about opening DeKalb Schools in the Fall.
DeKalb Schools Re-Opening Framework
June 20, 2020 – DeKalb Schools Re-Opening School Task Force built a framework to serve as a transition document to the new Superintendent for final decisions on how to re-open on the first day of school on Aug 3, 2020.
CDC’s Considerations For Schools
May 23, 2020 – Spacing recommendations are going to be particularly burdensome for students and teachers in District 1 given the persistent overcrowding in this area. The arithmetic of students, bus seats, and square footage make it difficult to balance the equation.
Virtual Classrooms – The Future of DeKalb Schools
May 16, 2020 – There is still no definitive plan for what school will look like when it opens in August.
However, DeKalb Schools is full speed ahead planning on school in traditional classrooms as well as Virtual Classrooms.
Stan, are you now confirming that Dekalb is officially pushing the start date for school back to August 17?:
Fulton County – Fulton will start back on Aug 17 like DeKalb Schools. Fulton parents, however, will be able to choose from in-person traditional instruction or remote virtual instruction.
I know that’s been discussed as likely, but not confirmed anywhere that I have seen. Maybe I missed it though. Hoping you can clarify. Thanks.
Hello @Dunwoody Dad. The board will discuss it on Monday. I’m confident it will be pushed back to Aug 17. It’s not official until it gets voted on.
Fulton … I’ll have to go back through the Fulton docs.
Rockdale has the best plan!!! Kudos to their superintendent!!!! They truly care about students and STAFF!
Why not declare the start date has been delayed indefinitely and there will be two-week notice prior to the start? Given the changing circumstances of this pandemic, picking an arbitrary date is meaningless.
@Stan Jester. Thanks for the reply, and I see you updated the original post re: Fulton & Dekalb. Makes sense, I guess we’ll see what they do.
Personally, I have no strong feeling either way on Aug. 3 vs. Aug. 17, other than with the current “cases spiking” fixation in the media and elsewhere, pushing the date back probably makes sense, whether it’s actually warranted or beneficial or not. I personally have my doubts as to whether there really are more cases now than at any other time during the pandemic- for example, how many had Covid in March, April, & early May when it was virtually impossible to get a test unless you were sick to the point of hospitalization, or were a healthcare worker, vs. now when anyone can get a test (for free) if you do a little research & pack your patience? The CDC has estimated that the true number of cases is around 10x the current reported number, which means far more people were positive months ago than the reported numbers show. And yet, the 7-day rolling average of Covid-related deaths has dropped steadily since the end of April (10 full weeks ago), from 43 per day to 17 (https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report). I know, deaths can be a lagging indicator, but considering cases started their uptick on May 25, just how lagging are they supposed to be?
There is risk in everything we do, whether driving 80 mph on 285 (sometimes on the way to school!) or sending our kids to school during regular flu season (much more dangerous for children) or sending our kids to school during Covid (much more dangerous to the elderly & immuno-compromised, just like the regular flu & virtually every other virus/disease). We just have to weigh the risks vs. the positive benefits, and I personally see more risk in keeping schools closed again- especially for those in lower socioeconomic living conditions- than in sending kids back with reasonable precautions in place.
Dekalb should open schools and let students (and their parents respectively) vote with their feet. I bet 95% of students will report to school for in-person education. The 5% of students with health condition for which the virus is potentially hazardous should be provided with virtual learning. But in fact it doesn’t matter the percentage. Everybody who supports in-person education must be provided with the option. I do urge Dekalb county schools to follow the options Gwinnett, Fulton, Cobb, Hall, Henry, Marietta City etc. had given their students the choice of in-person and virtual education.
At first glance, counties with higher white populations are reopening with in person and virtual, parents choice.
I suspect APS and DeKalb will join Rockdale and Clayton in having hybrid instruction or day rotations- All counties with higher black populations. Sure is interesting.
Stan, do you have results from the June stakeholder survey? Teachers are essential and need to be back in their classrooms. Teachers, not parents are the biggest hurdle in these discussions. How does the board have no advance knowledge?
If City of Decatur chooses option 3, the trend is broken.
Dunwoody Dad and Concerned- didn’t see any mention about risks to teachers or staff in your posts- how should the county address their health concerns?
Folks, teachers are essential workers. Like nurses and doctors. They can’t do their jobs from home. Require masks and/or face shields and open our schools or watch Dekalb schools and our house values go down the toilet. The for sale signs will be everywhere.
However we go back, I think two safety concerns need to be addressed.
Masks are being required or encouraged by different districts. Last night, Gwinnett decided that masks are required unless there is a documented medical reason. This looks like a good plan. If DCSS decides to do this too, there needs to be a clear enforcement plan, with some understanding of how difficult it might be for children. Perhaps giving outdoor breaks and outdoor lunches is possible. Teachers and schools need to know what steps to take when someone is not wearing a mask indoors.
Also, what should be done if there are positive cases? Many districts are vague about how people will be notified. We need a clear plan of what someone who tests positive (child or adult) does in terms of staying home, and if it is required. A plan also needs to be in place about everyone in class with that person. Are they required to quarantine at home for a certain time and get a negative test result after that to return? Will there be a way to expedite tests through the Health Department for students and staff?
Thanks to everyone who is working on doing the best for our community. I think just by reading this blog, you show that you are concerned for our students.
I’m very concerned about how any of these decisions will impact our kids with special needs. Research is coming in which indicates that kids with intellectual disabilities are more likely to die from COVID-19 than their same aged typically developing counterparts. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1936657420300674?via%3Dihub
I am concerned about what will happen when cases are reported positive in the classroom; will the teacher and students all have to quarantine for 14 days following a positive test result in a classmate? Kids with ID and Autism crave and need stability – this idea of a fluctuating schedule will only worsen this issue. What about support specialists who move from building to building – OTs, Audiologists, SLPs, School Psychs…
Kids with disabilities have difficulty with sensory input from fabrics on shirts, let alone wearing a mask. It does sound like mask-wearing is our best bet for prevention – but how can this be safely implemented?
How will adequate cleaning supplies – endless tissues, masks, hand sanitizer, soap – be provided? Typically it falls to parents to donate them to classrooms. With the furlough days will you ask teachers to pay for hand sanitizer? Paper towels to dry hands?
Please remember the kids with disabilities in your discussions. Oftentimes they can’t speak for themselves.
@Science Teacher- Great question, and obviously one that has to be a major consideration. I’ve been thinking about it from a personal standpoint as my mother is an elementary teacher (half-time, after “retiring” a few years ago). She’s 68 & in good health for her age. She works with kids with mental & behavioral disabilities, on the mild end of the spectrum. Mostly K & 1st graders, & she is in pretty close proximity with them throughout the day. It’s easy enough to say she & the students should just mask up, but try telling 5 & 6 year olds to wear a mask all day and see how that works out. Or for that matter, 17 & 18 year olds- for totally different reasons.
With that said, there are questions about how much children- especially younger children- can actually spread Covid vs. adults & teens. The fear initially was that young kids could & would be “super-spreaders”, but thus far there has been very little evidence of that, and actually more evidence that the opposite is true (again especially for elementary-aged kids & younger). From a mid-June article I’ll link to below:
“Understanding transmission better could help inform public health policy as schools and childcare centers decide how and whether to reopen or not, says Jennifer Schuster, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. “Initially, there was a lot of thought that this virus could be spread by children in congregate settings, which is common for other respiratory viruses like influenza. What we’re seeing more and more from the data that comes out is that child-to-child or child-to-adult spread is actually not common,” she says.
Other studies propose biological explanations for the lower levels of disease seen in children. And a modeling study published today in Nature Medicine estimates that people younger than 20 years of age are about half as susceptible to coronavirus infection as people older than 20.
So like I said, I don’t know that I have a perfect answer. But there may not be perfect answers when it comes to Covid. Every action or decision comes with side effects & consequences- not everything is going to work out exactly as hoped for everyone. And it’s not always going to seem “right” or “fair”. We just need to look at it from all sides, taking into account all data & viewpoints, not just those we want to hear or that conform to our existing beliefs, and make the best decisions we can.
Sure, noticed that too. Rockdale only has 500 cases and not opening up?
Parents who support in-person education, let’s UNITE and come up as one front in case Dekalb refuses the in-person option. We should be ready to file a LAW SUIT against the county and those who made the decision. That’s pure discrimination when some counties denying students with in-person education. Those are political decisions obviously. If there is no health emergency declared by the Governor all counties must provide students with in-person education. If there is a health emergency declared then everyone goes virtual. There is no pick and chose here who gets the privilege of in-person education. It’s the constitutional right. Everyone must be treated equally and given equal opportunities in education. I’m sure there are parents who practice law and can express the idea in a professional way.
Is there a contact info available for those who make the decisions for parents to address their concerns? Was trying to find on Dekalb Schools web page but didn’t find exact emails.
There must be a virtual option provided as well for those with health risks.
@Concerned – as someone else mentioned, schools always need volunteers. Please come to one of our overcrowded, underfunded, broken HVAC, no soap in the dispenser schools, such as DHS, and volunteer. Stand in the hallways during transitions with the staff and tell me you feel that we should not be concerned for the health of everyone in the building.
@Come on in
I do volunteer on a regular basis, that’s why know all the problems and the way some teachers work too. But it’s not the reason to shut down schools all the way. It’s necessary to address the concerns you’ve mentioned.
Unfortunately, the area Stan represents is in the minority. We don’t have a voice. They’ve made their decision, write the emails after Monday (in disgust or in praise, depending on the announcement.)
Many teachers act as if their voice is the only voice, not the students and parents they serve. If they won’t or can’t go back, FMLA, and any additional leave options granted by the government, unemployment, etc are the options. And to think Georgia has no teacher unions.
Isn’t DeKalb grand?
@Stan Jester, was it necessary to fan these flames again? This was debated already on your previous post. I am tired of reading the vitriol that continually bubbles up. This rancor is serving no purpose, especially since we don’t even know Dekalb’s plan. Surely there is some common ground that can be arrived at without completely denigrating teachers and the teaching profession. If Dekalb teachers are so horrible, I don’t even know why some of theses folks want their kids in class with them in the first place!
Well, maybe I’m naive but do believe that one can be a warrior too. That’s the future of our children and is worth to fight for! Will be looking for every possibility and chance to stand up and voice my voice.
If you want to classify school staff as essential, that’s fine, I agree that we are essential, but our exposure, proximity to students and each other, and the time we will spend in that close environment each day makes us more like front line workers. So we’ll need the same type of (WORKING!) ventilation that hospitals have that cleans the virus out of the air before recirculating it, since it’s now known to be airborne which is breathing and talking essentially. We’ll need the same N95 masks and face shields for staff that want them. We’ll need enough extra custodial staff trained to carry out ongoing sterilization procedures of all common areas. Most especially bathrooms that have toilets flushing constantly and eating areas. Masks for all of course, with spares. A case of Lysol spray in every classroom which is now EPA approved against COVID 19. A case of hand sanitizer. A case of sanitizing wipes. A case of tissues. All resupplied as needed. Then we need a secure separated place to isolate anyone who becomes sick during the day, with any sort of illness since most every common symptom is now a possible COVID symptom and we will need trained staff to handle that until they are picked up. Any illness should be treated as COVID and that person, adult or child and anyone that was in contact with them should quarantine at home until they get results from a hopefully rapid test.
Those things are what the county/state can provide.
We can do the rest, social distancing, handwashing, and the usual things we do every day to keep ourselves and the kids safe.
Then I’m good to go.
But I would still 100% support ANY staff member that didn’t feel safe or had vulnerable people at home.
I said there is a school board meeting on Monday where the Superintendent will announce the plan for opening of DeKalb Schools in Aug. My first draft said that DeKalb Schools opening day will be Aug 17 (that somehow got dropped in one of the revisions … I’ve put that back in there). I talked about the different types of “virtual learning”. I listed what all the other school districts are doing. I thought it was a good article.
I welcome people to express their thoughts. I’m guessing we have some new people who haven’t chimed in until now and others who feel the need to continue from the last article. Some of the messages are not flattering … Cere said I was pathetic. I think it’s a good read overall of what people are thinking … kind of like a real time survey.
Many counties Gwinnett, Fulton, Cobb, Hall, Henry, Marietta City etc. have came up with the way to address your worries and are opening up. So Dekalb can too!
@Teaching is not telework, newsflash: teachers are not doctors or nurses. And if you believe that we are then provide us with all of the PPE and testing that is required for doctors and nurses to show up and do their job each day.
I’m guessing with your list of demands we probably won’t be going back to in-person school EVER, so what would you propose as an alternative? Full-time virtual learning for everyone? Seriously- are you actually proposing retro-fitting every school in Dekalb (or Georgia, or maybe America) with “the same type of (WORKING!) ventilation that hospitals have that cleans the virus out of the air before recirculating it”. We can’t get A/C that works half the time, and you want a complete (likely extremely expensive!) overhaul of every school’s ventilation system before you would set foot in a school again? Come on, let’s at least be realistic here. I promise I’m not trying to be rude, but you might as well also ask for a teleportation device to get you to & from everywhere you want to go. After all, you’re more at risk of dying in a car accident than you are Covid, unless you’re over 70 with multiple significant comorbidities. Which is a group that I would imagine doesn’t encompass many current teachers.
I appreciate the update – it’s feast or famine with information, particularly if you’ve been waiting with bated breath about what August will bring. While I have your attention, can I ask what the plan will be when teachers start dropping like flies from COVID-19? DCSD had difficulty maintaining enough personnel in the before-times, now imagine that exacerbated by actual, physical risk. You won’t have enough qualified educators to host a zoom classroom.
For anyone who is tired of the back and forth, may I recommend this article?
When I’m forced to stay home and educate my children (which VL implies) I am not relying on your 2 hours of Zoom a week. I would question where my tax payer dollars go. I don’t want to pay you a salary just to grade the work.
What makes you think teachers will “start dropping like flies from COVID-19”? Specifically, do you think they are an especially high risk group? I’m not sure of the average age or health status of teachers in Dekalb, but as of the end of June, 67% of all Covid deaths in Georgia were people 70 or older. 86% were people 60 or older. More than 45% were residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Only 13% were confirmed to not have preexisting conditions.
I don’t have the stats, but my guess is a large majority of teachers in Georgia are under 60 (probably under 50) without significant comorbidities. So while some will certainly contract Covid- just like you see with people in any other setting- I can’t see a reason why they would all of a sudden “start dropping like flies”. For 99.9% of people- especially those that would comprise the teaching community- Covid is not a death sentence, period.
I’m not a teacher, but I am trying to empathize with what we’re asking them to do.
@ July Worries
When I said you I din’t mean you personally I meant teachers in general( but probably it does sound confusing, sorry). The scientific experts stress that 95% or even more of people will have mild no no symptoms at all. We’ll all get it sooner or later. So, your fears are exaggerated. For health risk group there definitely should be VL an option.
@Dunwoody Dad – “What makes you think teachers will “start dropping like flies from COVID-19””
DCSD has already lost teachers & staff to the virus. Others have lost family members to it.
@Concerned, I am a teacher, and I started the virtual learning with full instruction 5 days a week. My students and their parents loved it It was due to a number of parent complaints to the county that the county limited our teaching to 2 hours per week per class! That was not a teacher’s choice.
Concerned, I have to disagree with you about COVID being mild for most people… yes, most folks don’t die, but many get very sick and have to be hospitalized. I am pretty sure I had it this spring (didn’t go to the hospital, couldn’t get tested) and it knocked me out for 2 weeks. I couldn’t get back to regular exercise for almost a month- it was seriously the sickest I have ever been. Most of the folks I know who have had it have similar stories- this is not something you want to casually expose yourself to. So if we go with the model of everyone is going to get it anyway, expect lots of the staff in our schools to be out sick for weeks at a time. Many of our subs are older, and I doubt they will be willing to fill in for us- maybe parent volunteers will come in? We have to plan for serious staffing shortages until we have a vaccine
If this does truly keep rolling….I think the school should consider providing masks with the clear windows for visualization of lips (the “communicator” I believe it’s called) and/or plastic full-face shields for the teachers. This would take time to source. This would be especially necessary IMO for special needs/speech therapies.
Another thought – if parents must choose and stick w choice an entire semester like Gwinnett etc….what happens *when* there’s a scare (not even at your home school, but could be somewhere else in the district). What happens if parents all the sudden want to go virtual bc of the scare? Will they be out of luck? Who will take them on virtually?
Re: Fulton- they are requiring in-person kindergarten or nothing. No virtual. I do not agree.
It’s a filter replacement not a total replacement of the HVAC. Specifically at least a MERV 13 or higher if the system can handle it. This would also help with ordinary flu virus from what I’ve read.
I have a few other things to say in response to your post but I don’t want to be rude. See how that works?
Thanks for compiling and sharing that information, Stan. I’m hoping for the option of EITHER Virtual learning or in person school. I can’t imagine my own family navigating both parents working and virtual learning if that is again mandated, let alone families less fortunate than ours. It was very stressful for families last spring. And rotating schedules for the students would be an even bigger headache for working parents. Our family survived the spring by hiring a babysitter, but our budget can’t support that much longer. As it is, I’m guessing I’ll be using up vacation days to make a delayed opening work for us. The board and DCSD need to remember the families with elementary age children that can’t afford childcare as well as those that don’t have internet connections or enough internet devices to support multiple children doing simultaneous virtual learning. I agree with the person above, I believe in person school is the right of every school aged child, so unless there’s a current, declared state of emergency, we owe it to our students to open school for in person learning, while also offering a virtual option for families that want that option for health reasons. I do care about the health of our teachers; any in a high risk category should be given the option to teach virtually if they prefer. There are no easy answers, but I do hope the DCSD plans do what’s best for students in need, and provide them with in person learning.
I am a teacher who is in a high risk category and I want to do my job. If I am forced to go back to my school and am not afforded the choice to teach virtually, I will do it WITH THE PROMISE that WHEN (not if) I get sick or am exposed and have to quarantine at home for 14 days (or longer, if I am actually sick with COVID, because it will take me longer to get over it than a normal person would), I will not lose any of my personal sick days or be affected financially because of a situation the county caused. You simply can’t have it both ways. Either you allow me to teach the students who choose virtual learning OR you force me to go back to the building and run the risk of my getting sick. I shouldn’t be penalized for getting sick when I was willing to teach virtually. Just as parents want the choice, so do teachers, and we shouldn’t have to abandon our students, schools, and jobs to be safe.
And don’t kid yourself that people aren’t going to get sick, who will then expose many others. Then there won’t be enough teachers to continue in person instruction, because so many will be at home under quarantine. And then what will be the rallying cry?
As a dad of 5 children, I also want schools to start back because as a parent, I know my limitations in teaching. Trying to manage high school, middle and elementary work was hard because I am not trained to teach. Many of you are dogging the teachers and that is just wrong on so many levels. These are the individuals who spend hours each day teaching, molding, and loving our children. Many have worked this summer planning for both school and out of school instruction. For the last 17 years, I have been involved and will continue to be actively engaged in the schools for at least another 8 years. I have witnessed teachers ( YES TEACHERS) cleaning their room after a child gets sick, hugging and comforting a child who is upset, purchasing supplies with their own money, and checking on my children and other children during this Covid situation. Many emails were answered after 10pm and not one of the many teachers from high school to elementary ever let my child down. In fact, the opposite!
Yes, I want my children in school no question about it. However, if we say that they are “essential workers”then treat them better than we have in the past. Can you imagine teaching while managing mask patrol, hand-washing, and whatever else might occur? This is Covid 19 not a stomach bug or the flu. Kids share EVERYTHING!
Some of you do not give teachers create for anything. It is easy to sit on your side of the fence and judge, and I do include myself in that before I got involved. If you have every chaperoned a field trip, then you have sampled supervision of excited children who often act before thinking. Could you do your job and manage 20- 25 children? I travel and have worries of bringing this home to my family . I spend days isolated and then worry that I might be an asymptomatic carrier and have been tested after each business trip. Do you think every household is going to think about their exposure and isolate? If families will be self aware, then we have a chance. I have lost 3 relatives to this virus and that is 3 too many. The mindset that we are all going to get it will be our downfall because we are not buying in to the precautions and protocols. We need to insure not only our safety, but that of the adults that come in contact with our children. Yes, I want my children back in school. Yes, I can choose to homeschool if needed and it will be a financial hardship on many levels. This virus does not discriminate and can damage your health. Teachers are under-appreciated and the ones you are attacking. The ones making the decisions are in their offices not in the classrooms. Personally, I prefer to listen to those who will deal with it everyday and not to those behind closed doors. Oh and if my property value is influenced by teachers and schools, then I better get busy and do my part to help them. School board- whatever decision you make, please build up the teachers and protect them from those who do not understand.
I’m thinking you’ve read it wrong. No one is attacking teachers here. The point is if so many counties find the way of opening safely to the public with both protecting students and teachers then Dekalb should acquire their experience of protocols etc. and provide in-person education option too. There are teachers there too, they also have the same concerns and Dekalb teachers do, but the administrations of those counties have found the resources to satisfy everybody. No one is saying let’s ignore safety, no way, let’s open up safely like the rest of the counties are doing. Let’s protect teachers with the tons of extra benefits if you go in class and teach, let’s do that! Let’s find the ways to work it out, but not shut down in a shell and give up the education of our kids.
There is always a way. ALWAYS. When one wants to find a way will find it, when one doesn’t even want to look for it will find an excuse. The majority of counties have found those ways, they live in the same reality as we are, but they are working hard to find and are finding the solutions for all. I encourage Dekalb county schools to do the same: let’s look for solutions not for excuses (why not) because if someone else can do it we can too.
I do share you view that teachers in a high risk category should be protected and do the VL teaching option.
@ just wondering
It is your job. Plenty here have jobs and if we dared to tell our employers, ” I will not lose any of my personal sick days or be affected financially because of a situation the county caused” most would be out of a job.
It is your choice to teach in person or virtually if your employer allows you to. But if you are that concerned that you may not recover if you were to contract COVID-19, it may be best to take FMLA or some other option more appropriate for you. And if your employer chooses the hybrid model, what will you do then?
@dsw2 I believe I read a comment from you on the other post with a link to a podcast that stated schools should decide who needs to be in school the most and those students should be allowed. Do you know how that sounds? Ludacris. All children should be allowed to attend in person.
I would feel better about the hybrid option. At least there won’t be as many kids in the room and social distancing will be possible. But most people here are arguing AGAINST the hybrid, because they don’t want children at home. There is no way to implement the CDC safety guidelines if we go back to in person teaching as normal.
My fear is that the county won’t protect anyone and will give lip-service to what they are “going to do,” but it won’t actually happen.
And most people here have jobs, yes, but not the kind of jobs where they are EXPECTED to put themselves in an at risk situation without any guarantee of safety protocols being implemented. I’ll bet most people’s jobs (especially private sector) have gone to a rotating schedule and bought cleaning supplies, and hired extra cleaning staff. As someone mentioned, it’s easy to spout off things like that from your office or cubicle. Or to hold a Zoom meeting (because you can’t comfortably be in a room with that many people) where you decide to reopen schools for in person learning.
It does sound like people branding. Scary thing I should say. We’ve being there in history and must learn lessons from it. Why the counties with a big percentage of African-american students are not allowed to go to school in-person? They have the least cases (like Rockdale, etc.) and yet are not opening? That’s the time to sound the alarm as loud as can. be. Are we going back in time and letting only white kids get education only?
Where did you read other districts have found a way to do this “safely”? Other districts are giving parents the choice to decide whether to send their children to school and hope things are ok or choose to ignore the real and many risks to their children and our city. Georgia’s university instructors had to fight for mask mandates. The disease is airborne and not one school district has announced its new ventilation process because they don’t have one. No one is doing this safely because that’s not possible.
23% of Dekalb residents live in poverty. 45% of children live in a single parent household. 16% have no health insurance. Those reported numbers are probably different with the mass numbers of people unemployed or underemployed since March. Check out the real numbers of Covid by race and the newer information about the ages of those infected. Your numbers and reasoning do not apply to our county or metro Atlanta nor do they recognize what doctors and scientists are learning as they go. I’m more concerned about the most certain hospital diversions and impacted health infrastructure we’ re facing- and will only get worse by opening schools-than I am my property value.
What do you mean “they don’t want children at home”. Parents want their kids to get education. The quality in person education, not an illusion VL . Hybrid is the worst, because you still get exposed (one always is exposed when he or she is in public), you don’t get to learn and there is only a lose lose situation. I think the most of the counties have already got it and offered onlu in-person or VL option.
I do support those decisions that parents have to make choices. The counties are just providing the options. And those options should satisfy everybody, one way is always a narrow way.
What I meant is that parents don’t want their kids home at all, as you said. Many have mentioned how hard it will be to ensure care for the kids while they work. But to have them all at school at once doesn’t allow for the social distancing that is required for lower spread. Students coming only two days a week lowers their exposure. Of course, teachers are still exposed (twice as much as students would be with hybrid), but that doesn’t seem to bother anyone much.
It just feels like we are being told, as per usual, be happy you even have a job, don’t ask questions, just do what we tell you to do and don’t make a fuss. All I am advocating for is that teachers have the choice of teaching virtually or in-person, not being FORCED to do one or the other. And who knows? The survey results may show a significant number of parents who WANT digital learning and they just aren’t posting here. It may work itself out (numbers wise, with VL and in-person), but we don’t know because we haven’t seen any numbers yet.
Well, this discussion can’t be the fair representation of any numbers. But numbers don’t matter. There are 2 major mindsets of going in-person or VL and there is a way to provide a service for all and that should be the case to my mind.
And thank you Stan for providing the platform to share the opinions.
Learned how to use Verge and other online tools for several years in DeKalb. I’m well prepared for online teaching.
Followed all cdc guidelines, faithfully social distancing and mask wearing since March 13th.
Didn’t see family all summer to protect vulnerable people. I feel this sacrifice.
Worked very hard to teach students online for 2.5 months.
Watched people ignore science and pretend there is no pandemic. Many made no sacrifices.
Watched the positive cases get unnecessarily completely out of control.
Now: I’ll be forced to be in a poorly ventilated room doing something I could do online from home, educating the children of all the people who don’t care enough about other people to socially distance or wear masks. I won’t be able to visit certain family members for another 9 months.
I wish we all knew we belong to each other.
Our facilities don’t allow any social distancing. Kids will not social distance.Bus drivers will sick out, so will teachers, and we won’t have any subs.
Everyone has at risk people in their lives. School will bring covid home to them.
So how bad does it have to get before we close? 5,000 new cases per day?
1 person positive in a school=close?
I think use the extra 2 weeks of planning to come up with a good online plan and deliver proper materials to students including hot spots. We have millions of dollars to do this.
Some European countries opened up but only after they were down to double digits per day or at the most, a few hundred. This will not go well.
In person will fall apart and be a nightmare.
This is going to be a mess. Kids are going to die. Teachers, support staff, and administrators are going to die. That’s the bottom line. Some of you have decided that children dying is the price to pay in order to keep your property values high. That is disgusting. For some reason, you don’t think your child will be impacted. Or, maybe you do and your money matters more than your own children-or anyone else for that matter. We’re going to resume in-person teaching, and you can thank yourselves when everything goes downhill. As for teachers, that is exactly what we are. We are not doctors, health professionals, disease experts, etc. When your children become critically ill, remember these threads and remember that the teachers were screaming that this is a horrible idea. Also remember how hard you pushed, for whatever reason, for this to take place. Remember to blame yourselves for people dying. Remember to blame yourselves for children who end up with MIS-C. Remember to blame yourselves when your kids have long-lasting lung damage. Remember to blame yourselves when your kids have neurological issues. Also, remember that teachers fought like hell to save your children from the inevitable disaster that’s going to take place, and remember that you decided to fight against us instead of standing with us to protect your children. I have never seen a more disgusting display of selfishness and greed.
The GA Department of Public Health considers a county to be in “substantial spread,” the highest category of community spread, if it has more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents.
Dekalb County currently has 928.2 cases per 100,000 residents.
“Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools” document states that, during substantial spread, schools that are closed will remain closed and distance/remote learning with be implemented.
@Concerned, giving parents a choice doesn’t mean it will be safe. I’m confused with how you see that as other counties finding a safe way to return. Classrooms will be full. Physical distancing will not be possible.
Exactly right you’re not medical doctors. The doctors have spoken. Fauci, AAP, etc. Kids belong in school. Parents should be allowed to choose virtual or in-person.
And you’re a teacher? “Remember to blame yourselves for people dying.” Disgusting.
Stan, please read this teachers comment to the board. Share it wide, let everyone know this is DeKalb County. We should all be proud of teachers like @disgusted, right parents?
I’m also a parent, taxpayer, and property owner in DeKalb County. You can read this to the board under those titles as well because I’m speaking from all of those perspectives. As a parent and taxpayer, I’m entitled to share my opinions just like you’re entitled to share yours. I’m still disgusted, you’re still selfish, and people will die unnecessarily. If you’re upset by those facts, that’s on you. When things go downhill, who do you expect to blame? It definitely shouldn’t be the teachers who are opposing in-person teaching because of the health risks. You’d have to blame yourselves for pushing so hard for schools to open without pushing for proper precautions to be taken.
Good, spirited debate here. Unfortunately, your voices won’t be heard. Here’s why.
DeKalb doesn’t give a $#&* about Stan’s district. Sorry, but might as well put it out there. We are the cash cow to the rest of the district.
Also – and Stan correct me if I’m wrong – but DeKalb isn’t offering you or any board member a chance to see this incredibly important plan before the meeting on Monday. How can there be educated discussion if he hasn’t even had time to read the plan?
So keep up the debate, but like someone said plan your email campaign for Monday.
I vote for two choices, just like the other counties have done (in person or online, parent choice).
Whoever tried to make all this racist might want to check your facts. Marietta is majority minority. So instead of spewing your version of political correctness, check the facts.
I think you’ll have to come back to Earth with your list of demands. Even doctors at hospitals have had mask shortages and were wearing trash bags as PPE. People are working with the resources they have. And you know what doctors were not even allowed to wear masks when they were not working with Covid patients. Now all of a sudden it’s time to go back to school and there is so much we don’t have. Employ the ways other counties are opening schools, they are the same buildings, also people prone to catching viruses.
I’m sorry that you have such strong negative emotions regarding this matter, but you can’t spill them on everybody here. The top medical experts share that kids do need to report to school and continue education. We can’t rely on feelings with this matter. I know people are stressed and scared but we have to cope with feelings and to do what we have to do, live our lives safely, but not to put everything on hold.
Thanks for sharing. Here is another link from CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/county-map.html?state=GA Gwinnett ,Fulton, Dekalb, Cobb are the top 4 . All three counties are opening schools for in-person education option. We are still waiting for Dekalb to announce the plan.
@Concerned, my feelings are rooted in common sense. Yes, I have very strong negative feelings about the prospect of my students, co-workers, my children, my husband, and myself having serious complications/dying as a result of contracting the virus. The fact is, public schools are woefully unprepared to handle this. You’re referencing the recommendations of people whose children have probably never seen the inside of a public school and will not be affected by this the way our children will be. They’re also assuming that we can properly clean, socially distance, etc. to maintain a healthy environment. That is not going to happen. As I’ve said before, if your children become critically ill, make sure you don’t hold the teachers or school personnel responsible. We’re telling you right now that we do not feel prepared to handle this.
@Voices won’t be heard
I think after the fact we’ll have to focus on the higher institutions to whom Dekalb county schools report to if the county denies the access to in-person education option. I do want to have the answers in case Deklab doesn’t open its doors to students. It’s not the rate of transmission definitely, since the highest rate has Gwinnett and they are proving the in-person option. One can’t rely on survey as well. Everybody should be treated equally in GA as well as in US. One district can’t open and another remains closed.
@Teaching is not Telework
This will have no lasting impact on whether people can sell their homes. Everyone in the metro Atlanta is in the same boat. Come on!
You seem to forget that adults are in the building. And even if your mother is in excellent health, that doesn’t change her age. She will still be exposed to other adults in the building. It’s unavoidable. I pray she stays healthy. Also, even if you don’t die from COVID, the impacts of contraction are lasting. Thank goodness fewer are dying due to COVID, but noone is talking about what it does to your body in the months after. My stepddad had COVID in March and is still experiencing complications from it.
In addition, your rebuttals leave out the fact that teachers and staff must interact with one another. We are required to stand in the hallways to monitor students, we share bathrooms which consist of two stalls, we share copy rooms, we share teacher lounges where we store our food, some classrooms have two adults in the room at all times, in the case of DHS, teachers lose their classroom to another teacher, and must go to the library to work with other displaced teachers, the list goes on in which our paths cross with other adults.
Something no one has mentioned yet. Summer camps are shutting down left and right among the high schoolers due to COVID contact. I know for a fact, several high schoolers have tested positive for COVID and it is spreading like crazy. I’m afraid for when these superspreaders enter the crowded hallways of DHS, it is not going to be pretty. People are going to die. We are not frontline workers. This is not in our contract. If it is, pay us for it and supply us with the proper PPE.
We can’t be driven by fear in this matter. I know the challenges you’ve mentioned, but we have to come with solutions and not with emotional response I’m scared. This is the reality we live in right now, we have to deal with it, we can’t hide in the shell and put everything on hold indefinitely.
You write “I think after the fact we’ll have to focus on the higher institutions to whom Dekalb county schools report to if the county denies the access to in-person education option.”
Guess what – DeKalb county schools don’t report to any “higher institutions.”
DCSD is free to make any decisions it wants. Georgia Department of Education can only offer suggestions and has no enforcement power or ability to fine DCSD.
In most districts this system works well. The Districts are honest, have built up reserves, and have their central office fully staffed.
But DCSD has small reserves (which now have to be used to pay a huge legal fine) and has Interims for Legal, Human Resources, Operations, Finance, and IT.
We are in a world of hurt beyond what Covid has caused. And no “higher institution” will hold the District accountable.
@ HS Teacher
I can’t agree with your assessment of the housing value: people will start moving to other counties where the schools are open, not everyone in Atlanta in the same boat as to schools operations, that’s the point. Also want to share some positive news as well, since people share horror stories about Covid patients. I personally don’t know anybody who has the disease, very thankful for that. So it’s not doom and gloom everywhere….we are are going to die, the sky is falling…
Courts then? Governor, President… The President made a comment that he’ll be holding Governors accountable to open up school.
@Concerned, I know several people who’ve died from it. Just because you don’t know anyone who’s contracted it doesn’t mean others don’t, and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously.
For those who seem to think teachers are young and healthy and, apparently, immune to anything related to Covid as well as those who think all students or select students should be attending in-person school, can you help me understand how the district can recognize the facts and plan accordingly?
38% of Dekalb adults are overweight. 28% are obese. 15% of children are overweight, and 13% are obese. 26% of children have been told they have asthma. Children under the age of 12 are more likely to have asthma. These numbers and this information are from Georgia’s public health information published in 2015. The school district would have the numbers of students with health conditions that have been reported. I would hope this is information shared at Monday’s board meeting. Not sure what information it would have about teachers’ and staff’s underlying conditions unless those needed an accommodation. Doubtful the district has information about numbers of teachers and other staff in certain age groups as well as counties of residence since so many teachers travel from surrounding counties. The state health plan could provide information about teachers’ and staff health, but only for those getting health insurance through the district.
I’m terrified to report to school because I haven’t seen the district be able to manage anything from working a/c units to clean bathrooms to leaking buildings to a plan for substitutes. Our governor has politicized a necessary health measure like masks until he realized he couldn’t any longer. Waiting until the end to announce mask mandates is no different from waiting until after we started virtual learning to figure out how it would work. So much that needs to be explained about masks. Are people stationed outside of the building barring students and staff who don’t have them? Are students sent home or given one when they don’t wear them? Please stop asking as if any teacher concerned about reporting to school is selfish. We are doing the same responsible things anyone would do when choosing a vacation rental or car or new phone. We want to make sure we know how these things work. I know I don’t want my child reporting to a classroom and school with teachers and administration who haven’t considered all the ways to help keep students emotionally and physically safe with or without Covid.
We shouldn’t be throwing all teachers and staff and students in the same buildings we usually use when some have greater needs than others. Some buildings are better for bigger spaces more outdoor space, etc.. We don’t have to have any in-person school arranged by the zones and neighborhoods we like in good health. That’s planning that should’ve been happening. We can’t throw people into buildings with cloth masks and hand sanitizer and just pretend or hope that it works out. There are things the state and the school district can do to mitigate risks for everyone.
The only thing we knew when we left school in March is that Covid would still be here. Unfortunately, too many people still don’t want to recognize that. Four months later we still don’t know how the district has arranged for technology access, how the district has added to or modified its virtual learning plans, how the district has examined its personnel needs and resources.
If we can follow CDC guidelines then sure, open up. Who is going to foot the bill for masks, new HVAC (because ours doesn’t work), additional staff and buildings to facilitate social distancing, extra custodial staff and sanitation equipment? The state cut the budget, the federal government doesn’t look too helpful, and DCSD’s budget is apparently strapped.
Georgia Tech’s model indicates that it is more than 99.9% probable someone in a group of 100 in Dekalb will have Covid. There are roughly 200 staff members at each of our high schools. Even our smaller elementary schools will have a 80-95% chance of having a Covid positive person present.
This is from one of my family members in the NE. This is what is going to happen in GA:
I just started teaching hybrid summer school on Monday. I got a call Tuesday night that we needed to go to distance learning today through Monday because a student tested positive that had been in the building on Monday. We made it 2 DAYS. I am the ONLY teacher to agree to teaching a hybrid model. My area was hit HARD. I’ve had many students whose whole families were sick. And the lasting illness if you survive… who can say if you’ll be on disability? I sent my son who had GBS to stay with my parents while I try this because he’s autoimmune prone. Depending on what schools here do, I may end up having him stay there. I’m coming up on my 24th year. I work in an urban school where I have to buy paper towels, soap, markers, etc if I need them in my lab.
To me your arguments sound more like excuses. Obesity is the american nation’s problem unfortunately, so let’s shut down schools now? And I totally disagree on “Our governor has politicized a necessary health measure like masks until he realized he couldn’t any longer” The health experts were given the advice that masks were irrelevant and everybody else was just following that. Now when it’s time to go back to school the “air itself is dangerous to breath”…
I meant were GIVING obviously…just correcting myself…sorry for misprint.
It does sound interesting from this discussion that mostly teachers are advocating for VL… Not one teacher expressed the necessity of in-person education.
I’m arguing that we use facts to plan. Using facts about Covid susceptibility to plan for in-person instruction is an excuse? Making sure the district has enough teachers to report to a classroom for in-classroom instruction is an excuse? Making sure the district has personnel to teach classes when a teacher must be out for 10 school days is an excuse? I’m confused.
By April 2nd, our governor was saying he had just learned that asymptomatic people could transmit Covid. Health experts like Dr. Fauci were reporting this in February. The “everybody else” might be the 26 legislators in Mississippi or the many Covid positive in Tulsa or some of the hospitalized in Texas, where the governor is mandating some mask wearing. I hope the district and state are not relying on the “health experts” you cite. That would be scary for all of us.
Let’s adopted other counties plans and safety protocols if Dekalb is behind and is not capable of figuring out it itself. I’m not even commenting on you second passage. Anybody who has a memory or Google:) can see what the recommendations were…
meant adopt and counties’ and your instead of you… you guys are mostly teachers here…misprints might bother you…this discussion is not the main focus of my attention… sorry …but you are getting the message I hope…
Concerned- maybe Teachers are advocating VL because we experience schools more often than you do, especially under their typical conditions. This funding cut is the second biggest in 20 years. That won’t help. Teachers desperately want to be face to face. We’d get an online job if that’s what we wanted.
There is one question lingers in my mind when I read all those teacher comments that Dekalb schools district is so bad, that it’s not ready and there is not even a chance that it can be ready…not one… it has to shut down its door to students…You guys represent this district, schools=teachers. So you have to acknowledge that you are a part of the problem…Teachers in other districts, the same folks like you, with the same fears, concerns etc. but are going into the classrooms to do their jobs. And you are trying to sabotage the educational process in Dekalb.
I wish we had the power you assume we have.
Unfortunately, there is not a great option and someone will be upset either way. We must keep our minds on the students and help them the best way we can.
Great article posted today on Re-Opening schools:
Board Member DaCosta seems to have posted survey results on his Instagram…
People are going to move to other school districts because of better schools, not because of COVID. Cobb plans to offer in-person, but an outbreak is inevitable and they will have to close regardless.
I have a rising kindergartener and 2nd grader. I want them to return in-person more than anything in the world. I believe kids need to be in the classroom to learn social skills and to learn with their peers. Early elementary is also the time in which kids learn how to read, which is a foundational skill for years to come. I loved school as a child. I have a fear my children will not develop the love I had because of all of this. However, I don’t want their teacher to be sacrificed for their education, which is what people are asking teachers to do. I’m very torn about all of this, but right now I have to advocate for the teachers who could potentially die or experience lasting impacts from COVID. Until you have stepped foot into a classroom, please don’t throw teachers into a war zone. I’m not confident teachers will receive the resources to keep us safe and healthy. That’s the bottom line.
Let’s be real. If we do return in-person, we’re still going to close because of an increase in cases and have to close. This will happen all over metro Atlanta. Oh, and let’s not forget about when flu season starts up. Don’t even get me started on that.
@Concerned, we’re going back either way. We’re making our voices heard now because, when this goes horribly wrong, NOBODY will be able to say that the majority of teachers supported this foolishness. Nobody will be able to say that they had no indication that things would be unsafe and that teachers felt inadequately prepared to handle this health crisis. I want to make it very clear that I have no problems doing my job. When the cases seemed to be stabilizing a bit, I was cautiously optimistic that we’d be able to go back safely. I bought work clothes, I bought my children’s school clothes, masks, etc. in preparation of returning. However, we are seeing spikes in cases that indicate that this is not going to be safe. My concern is the safety and wellness of ALL of the people who will be in those buildings.
I follow forums that are specifically for parents and forums that are specifically for educators across the nation. Overwhelmingly, parents want their children back in the classroom. Overwhelmingly, teachers across the entire country are scared and don’t feel safe returning to the school building for face to face instruction.
IMO, it is the role and responsibility of DCSD to create the bridge that brings families and educators together. What happens when people are scared for their life….you get the fight or flight response. That’s exactly what I see here on this forum. School districts across our state have come up with a plan for returning, but have said nothing substantial about truly keeping staff and students safe. Join any group educators and you will see, teachers are angry and scared that no one seems to care about our lives.
DeKalb has the opportunity to show true leadership at their next board meeting. Teachers know, that at many schools, basic necessities such as soap and paper towels are lacking. It is on the district to say, “hey, in the past we have not done a good job providing basic supplies to school, but we are committed to doing better this year. We are committed to make sure you always have PPE supplies and the building has whatever materials are needed to keep staff and children safe.”
THEN, leaders and central office staff need to commit themselves to visiting schools periodically to make sure we have what we need. If you all can walk the halls to make sure we have standards and lesson plans posted, you can find time to walk the halls to ensure every bathroom has warm water, soap, and paper towels. You can walk the hall to make sure every teacher has Lysol and wipes.
I am an educator, but I am also a teacher and I truly understand BOTH sides. I want to be back in the classroom. I did not like VL at all and because I value hands-on learning and students being able to use all 5 senses to make discoveries, VL goes against everything that I value about education. At the same time, I want to feel valued as a teacher. I want to know that my life is important to the people I work for. I want to know that you care enough to make sure everything I need to stay safe during the day is provided. I fully believe that it is on the leaders of the district to do everything they can to make sure we feel as safe as possible with face to face instruction.
The superintendent of Fulton County Schools was on WABE this morning discussing the concerns many teachers have expressed about reporting back to school. You might also want to check out the AJC’s coverage. Dekalb teachers aren’t the only ones sharing questions and asking questions. Georgia’s universities mandated masks only last week after enough instructors demanded so.
Your suggestion to look to other districts makes sense. Gwinnett was going to do only in-person until enough people, teachers included, expressed concerns. The only other district that’s similar in size is Cobb, and it’s also giving a choice. If you know something about giving teachers power, please share. The state DOE, GA PSC, and our board have made sure that we have little to no voice.
Like you, I appreciate this blog. The more you share, the more I wonder how the district does deal with students who refuse to do things or families that ignore things like personal health checks because their facts don’t comport with the reality the district is facing. I hope that doesn’t sound rude, but I really can’t imagine how our district diverse in people and in views is up to this challenge.
Based on the results of the survey Dacosta has on his IG story, it would seem that for elementary aged students, virtual or hybrid learning is the best choice for parents and teachers. Middle and High school parents and teachers prefer face to face instruction. I am definitely surprised by the results.
Hi novice Teacher. But won’t you agree that the expectation of the teachers should be realistic. Like from some previous comments the expectation is the sterile condition. Everybody knows that it’s not achievable to the level requested.
I must have missed the CDC written guidance or Dr. Fauci saying that schools should open regardless of the realities of the situation on the ground. If I have kept up correctly, the expert consensus is that the ‘goal’ is to have students back in school. EVERYONE wants students back in school ( including teachers), but not until it is SAFE and SUSTAINABLE to do so. The amount of spread in the community is substantial and in exponential growth. The goal and the realities of the situation are not aligned. Regardless of how much we may WANT something, we can’t just will a goal into existence with wishful or magical thinking. We ALL have to WORK for it.
In my opinion, working to reopen schools is AS MUCH a responsibility of the community, as the teachers and district. Want to know sure-fire way to get kids back in schools?
WORKING TOGETHER AS A COMMUNITY TO REDUCE THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS.
I think that we can all agree that the SAFEST way to open would be to follow both the CDC and Georgia’s Guidance for a Safe Return to In-Person Instruction. According to those guidelines, school buildings should remain CLOSED and distance learning should take place until the community spread is reduced to moderate levels. By disregarding science and the data and reopening schools before it is safe to do so, we will be adding to the problem and not the solution. The fact of the matter is that teachers WILL get sick. Students WILL get sick. Bus drivers WILL get sick. Parents WILL get sick. Grandparents WILL get sick. These impacts will spread far beyond the classroom and throughout the community. Ultimately, due to the nature of this virus, many will have long-term health impacts and many will die. All calling for schools to reopen in-person, should be able to face this reality. We do not know enough about this virus to gamble with the health of students, teachers, bus drivers, other staff, their families, and those who live or work in our communities. Research has found that this virus cause permanent damage to the lungs of even those who have mild cases or are completely asymptomatic. This is among mounting research that documents the potential long-term impacts that many are coping with including neurologic impacts, heart-damage, lung-damage, fevers, extreme fatigue, and shortness of breath that last beyond the acute infection.
Has the spread been controlled? Has the virus been contained? Have contact tracers been able to successfully contact trace? Are our numbers going in the right direction or the wrong direction?
How can we RESPONSIBLY call for schools to reopen in-person when it is unsafe to do so? How can we can for that in GOOD CONSCIENCE knowing the impacts? Opening schools right now would be nothing more than chaotic and a disruption to education due to inevitable closures once infections are reported. It sets everyone up for failure.
Why go this route when we could start of with an improved version of Virtual Learning, observe and learn from the experiences of the districts that decided to open in-person, and commit to transition back to the classroom when it is safe to do so. That could be after a few weeks if we, as a COMMUNITY, commit to prioritizing getting kids back into school buildings, with our actions.
I am a teacher. I’m not advocating for one or the other, but, for myself, I want to go back to the classroom. I am listening and I hear the concerns of my fellow teachers, so I empathize with them and will not criticize their preference.
Virtual learning did not work for me both as a teacher and a parent. There are many reasons it did not work. Although I did my best and I think I did a pretty good job this past spring, I need to be in a classroom. My husband can stay in his home office, work, and only take a break for lunch. It took considerable amounts of energy for me to stay on task without wanting to clean the house, wash the dishes, catch a butterfly, etc. I also have children of my own and I had to monitor their work closely.
During Zoom lessons, it was hard to monitor understanding of my students and keep their attention. I had students that turned their cameras off, showed off their puppies and prized possessions, continuously changed their backgrounds, used the chat feature to say “Hi” over and over, whisper to each other, looked to their parent faces as the parent mouthed answers to them, sound not working, cameras and accessories not working, etc. Using screen share, I could only see three or four faces at a time and couldn’t tell who was paying attention or not. There are distractions in the classroom as well, but a one hour Zoom was more exhausting that 8 hours in the classroom.
With VL, DeKalb County needs to have higher and more clearly defined expectations for both teachers and students in both synchronous and asychronous teaching and learning. I wasn’t really sure what was expected of my as a teacher and just did what my mind and heart told me. My oldest child did not have a single Zoom or Teams meeting and my youngest only had two teachers out of seven that held weekly meetings. As a teacher, it hurts me to say that they are not self-motivated learners, but they are not. They need that in-classroom experience with a teacher to be most successful.
Let’s not even get started on Verge. I do not know of one single teacher that likes Verge. I have received training on it, but it is not user-friendly at all. Fortunately, our school let us use what we were comfortable with and we had many compliments from our parents on the ease of our platform.
I could go on, but these are the points that stick out to me the most. If we have a choice between in-person or VL, I would most likely choose in-person both as a teacher and a parent. DeKalb County would have to come out with big changes to their VL and requirements for me to think twice.
I think, teachers, you are cutting the branch on which you are sitting. It’s a pessimistic trend of closing in-person schools and doing VL. There are writings on the wall that they will start vowing and pushing VL permanently and the army of teachers won’t be necessary at all. One teacher can cover the whole grade with VL….
My point and I stand on it: declared health emergency by Governor, everybody goes virtual, no declaration every county must be treated equally and provide the in-person option. Equal education opportunities for all counties.
Your comment was very enlightening and truthful! Thank you!
Your comment could be found rude I guess…as if Dekalb county students and families are any different then other students or families in other counties… there are families ans students with challenges in every county…
The links could be considered isolated incidents.
We have shielded children from mass exposure so far.
We do not know the impact, upon children, we do not have the data.
We have not had the opportunity to study the impact when children are exposed daily over time.
It seems, we will, soon enough.
Hope it does not impact children? Hope for a vaccine by years end? Hope infection rates drop?
Hope you are right.
@Wish and Hope…
CDC is probably more reliable than CNN
From Shane Morris on Twitter:
94% of all COVID-19 deaths happen in people ages 50 and older.
Depending on the state you live in, 23-29% of teachers are over 50.
Asking teachers to go sit in a room filled with perfect little pandemic spreaders is just… beyond any rationality.
This is some… sad math. Assuming the numbers play out the way we know they do, we’d likely have something like 2.5-4% of all teachers in America hospitalized with COVID within 3-4 weeks of schools starting.
Hospitalization doesn’t mean death, but it’s still… not good.
There are something like 3.7M public and private K-12 teachers in the United States. 25% are 50 or older.
That’s 925,000 teachers 50 and older getting COVID-19 in just under 4 weeks.
That’s 111,000 in the hospital, and something like 35,000 dying from COVID-19.
You are not the only teacher who has found VERGE to be lacking, but I love VERGE. It may be because I used to teach in Gwinnett, and the learning management system there (eClass) is so difficult to manage. It made VERGE a walk in the park. In the Spring, I put all lessons and activities on both VERGE and Google Classroom, since I wanted my students to be able to to use whatever they were most comfortable with. GC is easier, but sometimes I would have to direct the GC students to VERGE, because it could do things that GC couldn’t (or I couldn’t find, since I was new to it). I did like all the alerts I would get when I logged in, since I had a lot of students turning in work after the due dates, so I didn’t have to go into every assignment and hunt for new submissions.
One thing I will add for everyone is that when I think about how face to face teaching will happen this Fall (if it does), it won’t be what students are used to. Group and pair work will not be feasible, nor will artistic projects with shared supplies. How do teachers stop by at a student desk for help or feedback while still distancing? My classroom normally has students finding things around the room, going from student to student, passing papers, etc. None of that is safe. I’ve been spending the summer attempting to move stations activities (and even breakout room activities) online and finding ways for students to switch partners repeatedly online. I guess they can do this all in the classroom from computers and still safely distance. None of this is good, but I still feel safety has to remain the number one goal.
“My point and I stand on it: declared health emergency by Governor, everybody goes virtual, no declaration every county must be treated equally and provide the in-person option. Equal education opportunities for all counties.”
Georgia is CURRENTLY under a Public Health State of Emergency. This executive order was initially issued in March. On June 29, 2020, the governor extended this order until August 11, 2020. It will likely be extended again, as it has intermittently since March. This order is very much so active, unless it has been canceled. I have found no evidence of cancellation.
I have linked an article below:
You can read the full text of the Executive Order below:
I, wholeheartedly agree that Virtual Learning is the best option given the current circumstances.
“Depending on the state you live in, 23-29% of teachers are over 50.”
That category could do the VL education option.
@WE are Dekalb
I doubt that the counties that are opening up for in-person are doing it “illegally” 🙂