DeKalb Schools Is Returning to Face to Face Learning

DeKalb Schools sent out a 2-Week return to hybrid working environment notification to staff yesterday.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health Daily Status Report, COVID-19 cases are trending down and Cases Per 100K (Last 2 Weeks) in DeKalb have been below 100 for the last 4 days. Using the Formula To Calculate Moving To Hybrid, the DeKalb Schools Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris sent out a return to hybrid working environment notification.

Columbus Day – Also, DeKalb Schools has off Monday Oct 12, 2020. Happy Columbus Day.


Return to Work Staff Notification (October 6, 2020 )

DeKalb Schools Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris

From: Cheryl Watson-Harris
DeKalb Schools – Superintendent

Thank you for your dedication and hard work during these uncertain times and being true champions for our scholars. Your safety and well-being remain our top priority. Our conservative approach to return to school has been gradual and is based on COVID-19 data and guidance from health agencies and medical experts.

During the Board meeting on September 14, 2020, the District disclosed and discussed the phase-in plan. Under my leadership, the COVID-19 Re-Opening Task Force monitors the data trends daily and acknowledges that there has been a significant decline in the 14-day average per 100,000 DeKalb County residents from 122 on September 12, 2020 to 93 on October 6, 2020. Since the 14-day average per 100,000 DeKalb County residents is less than 100, the District is engaging in the following activities to prepare our staff, students, and families for the transition to the next phases:

Begin Phase II
October 19, 2020 Hybrid Working Environment 2 Days Per Week (10, 11, and 12-month Staff)
October 9-23, 2020 Distribute the Parent/Guardian Intent to Return Notification Electronically
Begin Phase III
November 2, and 4-6, 2020 Traditional Working Environment 5 Days Per Week (10, 11, and 12-month Staff)
November 3, 2020 Digital Learning Half Day
November 5-6, 2020 Begin One-Day Hybrid Learning Environment for Beta Group
November 9, 2020 Begin One-Day Hybrid Learning Environment for All Students Who Opt-In and Continue Distance/Remote Learning for Students Who Do Not

Please note that the tentative timeline is subject to change based on COVID-19 data and current health guidance from medical experts and health agencies.

In an effort to prepare for the re-opening of schools, all staff members will receive the Return to Work survey. Please review the attached documents in anticipation of completing the survey. Thank you in advance for submitting the survey by Tuesday, October 13, 2020. Your time and commitment are appreciated.


Supporting Documents

FAQs for ADA due to COVID-19
FAQs for Leave due to COVID-19
Emergency Paid Sick/Expanded Family and Medical Request For COVID-19 Related Leave

237 responses to “DeKalb Schools Is Returning to Face to Face Learning

  1. A.J. Rollins

    How is it that the Superintendent does not understand that the number of cases per 100,000 is NOT AN AVERAGE. It is the TOTAL number of cases per 100,000 in 14 days. From September 20 to October 3 there were LESS than 100 cases per 100,000 residents TOTAL. So for 14 days we had less than 100 cases per 100,000 people total, not average. Benchmark achieved. This metric is used to compare areas of disparate population size. The average number of cases per 100,000 during that period was less than 7 per day. You literally count the number of cases in DeKalb per day for 14 days and then divide it by 7.93154 (our population is 793,154 according to the state) and get the number that our leaders don’t understand is not an average. We have had 737 cases in the last 14 days. There is no average in this math. What are they even trying to “average” if you say we need an average of less than 100?

    16
  2. 737 cases out of 793,154 individuals is .0009292 % of the Dekalb population….get back to school full time. Stop pretending the Superintendent is trying to kowtow to one population group or another, the facts are showing that the cases are shrinking right now in Dekalb, there’s no reason to be afraid right now, cautious yes, fearful, no. Unless the curve reverses it’s course there’s no reason kids can’t be in school with teachers teaching them in person.

    5
  3. Teachers won’t really be teaching them in person… They will still be virtual… just in a classroom in front of their computer… in front of a teacher who will likely not want to get too close. More along the lines of a facilitator.

    46
  4. Ok, I am confused, her tweet yesterday and this notice don’t make sense to me. Are they saying kids go back 2 days a week on 10/19 and then 5 days on 11/2 (assuming they opt in to do that)?
    Mommas need to know when they can get their little monsters out the house.

  5. HVAC Disaster

    CDC acknowledged aerosol spread, with Covid hanging in the air, and getting worse without adequate circulation and longer exposure. I don’t believe at all that the HVAC is up to CDC recommendations, or that it will continue to function.

    Not saying there will be piles of bodies, but DCSD will have worse outcomes than GCPS, Cobb, and Fulton because the facilities are worse.

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  6. Employee maybe

    Whatever happened to 14 consequtive days with less than 100 cases per 100,000 people? When did this average stuff happen? It would be nice if employees had an option. With two young children at home and me being a single parent with no extended family here I have to make a decision. I may have to resign because I have no where to place my children while I work in an empty classroom. I guess it’s not their problem but my vacancy will be.

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  7. I have answers

    It was 14 consecutive days and a 7 day notice. Now it’s 7 days consecutive and 14 days notice. End up in the same place, but now the teachers have more notice.

    Nowhere to put your kids? Welcome to the party. See if you can guess why daycares have been filled up for months.

    9
  8. A.J. Rollins

    The plan that is still on the Board website says, “6 – 100 cases per 100K for 14-day period.” It doesn’t say anything about an average, because that number is not an average. But it somehow became an average of something that contradicts the plan on the website. The number is purely arbitrary. The difference between 100 and 101 cases per 100,000 is less than 10 cases in two weeks across the whole county. I’m worried that the same people who don’t understand what statistic they are relying on to open the schools are then supposed to keep the facilities safe. If there are calculations to be done based upon how much air the HVAC system moves, I hope they actually understand what numbers they are using. I would honestly feel better is we just said, “we’re doing the exact same thing as APS” and go with it.

    6
  9. Dedicated Teacher

    I appreciate your support and commitment to both children, parents, and teachers. I am a DeKalb County Schools alumni and teacher. I am very dedicated to my students and love teaching. However, I am very concerned about returning to the building. One of my biggest concerns is the HVAC system at our school that rarely works, and the windows do not open. The CDC recommends proper ventilation and has mentioned UV filters in HVAC systems. Our HVAC system has not been cleaned since the school was built, and there is evidence of mold in the HVAC system. Since I began at our school, I have had severe bronchitis 2-3 times a year, which I believe is related to the mold issue. The A/C is frequently out of service, There have been many days when a thermometer from the science lab shows my room to be between 82-86 degrees. We really need a UV filtration installment. COVID-19 is primarily airborne, so all of the disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer is not going to keep it from spreading through the air.

    Also, is the school providing proper PPE for teachers? Will I be spending yet more of my own money on PPE? As it is, I have to beg parents to send in disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and paper towels. There is rarely soap and paper towels in the student restrooms, and it is often missing in the faculty restrooms too.

    I worry about the cleanliness of the school overall. It is usually very dirty. My floor is dark and sticky , as it is mopped maybe once a year. The drinking fountains are visibly dirty.

    59
  10. Based on Board members comments, I wonder if rules will be different for the preferred Blacks and “entitled criminal won’t listen to rules” Whites.

    3
  11. There should be an added requirement for students/employees who go on campuses to submit negative COVID test results before they can be there. Dekalb making school staff and teachers an experiment and giving us no say is hugely irresponsible.

    24
  12. Stan,

    I spoke with someone at the Department of Health who confirmed that the data from the map does not include rapid response tests – and in order to see that data as well you would have to pull from the County Indicator report which includes ‘probable’ cases (what they call rapid response test results). How can we be sure that the Board of Ed at DCSD is including ALL pertinent data in making this decision, particularly with the rise in popularity with rapid response testing? I know most people are referring to data on the map of that Covid splash page, rather than sifting through dull reports to see other spikes in testing. Is DCSD working with someone at the Board of Health in order to ensure that our interpretation of this limited data is accurate?

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  13. Concerned Parent

    I am truly concerned about teachers with pre-exiting conditions. They are only being given three options, report to work and put themselves in harms way, don’t report to work and lose their job , or take leave and not teach/leave our children without instruction because they are being forced to take leave. It seems like Teachers’ Lives Don’t Matter in DeKalb. Students have a choice to participate in face-to-face or virtual learning and so should the teachers.

    53
  14. I hope I’m wrong

    I’m a parent, but I cannot begin to tell you how worried I am for my child’s teachers. When students who have been unknowingly infected transmit the coronavirus to their healthy peers, most kids will recover quickly. However, when students infect their middle-aged and near-retirement-age teachers, who have a variety of typical medical ailments, some of those teachers will have a very hard time recovering from the virus. How exactly is DCSD planning to provide qualified and competent substitute teachers for the teachers who don’t bounce back from Covid-19 infections? The school system routinely doesn’t have enough subs in a typical non-pandemic year. Do they expect that department chairs will take on a third full-time job? Job 1 – in-person instruction, Job – 2 virtual instruction, and Job 3 – covering for a sick (or dead) colleague… I’d prefer that my child have his qualified and competent teachers instructing virtually, than an unqualified sub “babysitting” in-person school.

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  15. Stan, thank you for this information. Has the county addressed whether testing for Legionella should or will be conducted?

    “Experts worry that water was left to stagnate in plumbing during lockdown, and that schools don’t have plans or effective guidance from health authorities for dealing with the effects of prolonged shutdowns.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/27/health/covid-schools-legionnaires-disease.html

    Thank you.

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  16. Umm...what now?

    So a colleague went back on campus and found that the PPE we were given appears to be a box of gloves, a pack of wipes (perfectly reasonable and useful), and a pack of maxi pads. I have so many concerns if that is what is meant to keep students and me safe in my room that has a broken air conditioner that leaks and has visible mold both at the base where the leak occurs and inside the hatch which turns the unit off and on. This feels more like a very unfunny joke than a true examination of safety measures that can reasonably be implemented in building. At least I can soak up the leak now?

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  17. Dunwoody Dad

    Can anyone share a link or any stories about reports of massive Covid outbreaks in school districts or private schools that have started back over the past two months, and the hospitalizations & deaths of teachers and students that have inevitably followed? Surely there have to have been a multitude of these cases, correct? Because so many seem extremely certain that they will occur as soon as face-to-face instruction starts back up. Or maybe we should just ignore that. Maybe we shouldn’t use actual experience from other schools & districts to inform our decisions, and instead just focus on what we fear MIGHT or COULD happen and take that as gospel.

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  18. Another DeKalb Teacher

    @ Laptop boy
    Students will come back on campus on November 9 for ONE DAY PER WEEK. They will still be learning virtually the other days of the week. The Beta Group that returns Nov 5/6 for ONE DAY represents 2nd, 6th, and 9th graders only. Teachers will return to the building the week of October 19 for two days a week to get their classrooms ready and still teach virtually 4 days per week (not sure how that’s supposed to work because we normally get 5 workdays to get classrooms together without teaching). The week of November 2, teachers will return to a 5 day a week schedule in the building (except election day was intended to be a virtual learning half day, so teachers get to work from home). A full return for students (five days a week) is not in the near future.

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  19. @Dunwoody Dad

    “Georgia health officials have decided to withhold information about coronavirus infections at each school, saying the public has no legal right to information about outbreaks that the state is investigating.”

    https://www.ajc.com/education/georgia-withholds-school-covid-19-counts-from-public/MSVEFPYMIJAMDO4TRMVPR2SWUE/

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  20. Dunwoody Dad

    @Data Minded

    Thanks for sharing that. Seems like odd choice to me, but maybe the DPH knows a lot of people will needlessly freak out at the mention of even one positive case in a school, so they don’t want to contribute to any unnecessary panic. I will say that if there have indeed been major outbreaks anywhere, and especially those that included any hospitalizations or deaths, in today’s instant information, social media-driven environment, I would imagine that the word would very quickly spread far & wide.

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  21. I don’t think the school district is sifting through the data. The Georgia DPH declared a while back:
    Substantial Spread: greater than 100 cases per 100,000 county residents
    Minimal/Moderate Spread: 6-100 cases per 100,000 county residents
    No/Low Spread: 1-5 cases per 100,000 county residents

    Georgia DPH publishes the rate of new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period. For better or for worse, that seems to be what the school district is going by.

    4
  22. Stan, was it not required for the board to vote on this decision? At the last meeting almost all of the board members seemed very against going along with this plan which seemed to bring it to a standstill. Now, it seems that does not make a difference and the county is moving forward with it anyway. How is this so?

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  23. Concern Educator

    My concern are teachers and students with pre-existence illnesses. They should be given an option to teach virtually. Keep in mind that teachers can not teach from the grave. DeKalb schools are not ready and we all know that.

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  24. Worried Old Woman

    I work in one of the areas with a high infection rate. I am 61 years old with an elderly 85 year old mother whom I care for. I am worried about returning to a building built in the 1960’s with poor ventilation and a part time HVAC system. I am hoping to retire after this school year. I cannot afford to do so until then. I am an office worker and would like to know if there is an option for me to continue to work from home? My work is performed through emails and US mail so it would not change if I am in the building or at home. My Mom lost my only other sibling recently and I am the only child she has left to take care of her when needed. It breaks my heart that I might have to put her health and mine in jeopardy.

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  25. Michael Pastirik

    Mr. Jester,

    Good afternoon.

    It is above my pay grade and what I write is my opinion – and, not meant to be “contrary”.

    As my signature below will indicate, I am a high school teacher in the Dekalb County School System (since 1979). I am 64 years old, and while I am a runner, I do have heart issues – along with being male, having type A blood, and I had two bouts of pneumonia. (I write these because I do fit some of the indicators in the danger profile. I do take the virus seriously. I do take precautions.). Despite these things, and my concern about proper ventilation in schools, I do think some students should return. Which students? To start, I would like to send (offer the option) to Special Education students – in order make sure we meet their IEP requirements, and to ESL (English as a Second Language) – it is difficult, or next to impossible to learn content when English is not your primary/original language on the computer. Then, in high school, and over time, I would like to see the ninth grade class return. The first two groups would require a skeleton staff at school – most teachers could continue to teach virtually (and, students would learn virtually in the classroom with members of the skeleton staff guiding them through activities). If everyone appears relatively safe, then we could begin the process of returning ninth graders to the school house.

    I am just offering my opinion. Regardless, I will return to school as per the guidance given, and I will hope for the best. For what it is worth, I would volunteer to be a member of the skeletal staff.

    I hope that you have a great day.

    Mike Pastirik
    Lakeside High School

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  26. LotsOfQuestions

    Will the board be meeting in person since they are sending teachers and staff back to school? If they are still meeting virtually, why would it be safe for teachers and staff to return?

    What is the rush? Virtual learning is working for the most part. Even in person school wasn’t perfect, so you can’t expect virtual learning to be perfect. With flu season approaching as well as long breaks, it would be wiser to keep everyone out until at least January. This will keep parents from having to find childcare at a moments notice if we go back totally virtual.

    What is the plan regarding teachers having to teach the students in school as well as the students online? How is that supposed to work?

    What were the results of the survey the county did? Why do a survey if you aren’t going to listen to the voices of the stakeholders? I’m certain that most teachers and a lot of parents did not want to come back. Other districts are staying out until January and I think that’s fair.

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  27. Employee Maybe II

    DCSD had difficulty keeping buildings clean prior to COVID. The HVAC and ventilation systems are old and problematic. Are we expected to be confident that they can do that now that no one can find Lysol and other sanitation items? Yes, it would be nice if employees had an option. Are we supposed to risk our lives and safety and that of our families whether they be young children or aging family members for other’s children? I love my students and if a live shooter were in the building I would protect them with my life. But to ask our families to risk their lives is not a part of the contract…especially when we have demonstrated that we can do this safely from our homes. Yes, there may be some regression or falling behind. But if you are dead or cognitively impaired from a devastating illness, there will be no catching up. We must get our priorities straight. I will be fine, but there will be one more specialized difficult position to fill in an area that already has massive shortages. We all want to return, but not at the risk of anyone’s life!

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  28. FLU MEETS COVID SEASON

    Stan:

    Since no one ever thinks about the non – school employees. I thought I would, as a Staff member at the AIC, I am highly concerned that we have to return at this time at all. However, if that is what we must do, is it possible to extend the Hybrid phase to the end of the year. HVAC in the AIC building is horrible, and the thought of breathing in other people’s germs that are floating in the air is scary. Dekalb should really be extremely cautious during this Flu meets Covid season. Like what is the rush to bringing us back, just so they can see our faces. We are working longer and harder from home then we were in the building, so there should not be any complaints about our production. Also, having to wear a mask for 8 hours a day is insanity. I have a family too, my kids are learning virtually (one has asthma) and my husband has an underlying health condition and I do not want to bring home Covid germs and make them ill or worse. So, for the love of God can you please please ask if the Hybrid option can be extended to the end of the year? November is way too early to throw us all back together 5 days a week/full time. Have they lost their minds!!

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  29. Stan,

    I understand that formula.

    There’s a phrase when considering numbers…”garbage in, garbage out”. This means you can have the most clever formula in the world, but if the information you are analyzing isn’t representative of the issue, you are going to have inaccurate results.

    That said, I have confirmed with an epidemiologist at Georgia Dept of Health who has stated they do not include numbers from rapid response tests in the number of community spread everyone is referring to on the splash page. That way of analyzing information was used before rapid response tests were prevalent. Now, rapid response tests are much more common. The DCSD is looking at moving back to in person school based on incomplete data which is not fully representative of all of the covid tests given in the county. The numbers – full numbers – have to be pulled from the county indicator reports.

    Please consider bringing in someone well versed in understanding the community spread, rather than using an arbitrary yardstick that may need to be re-examined.

    24
  30. After six weeks and no identified outbreaks in public and private schools in the state it’s time to go back. What is clear is that we have a positivity rate at 3%, which meets most metrics for limited community spread and despite the governor’s attempts to hide data there is not even anectodical evidence of outbreaks in or from schools. While the state may allegedly attempt to hide test results, they can’t hide hospitalizations and deaths, which honestly are what’s most important.

    6
  31. DSW2Contributor

    ^ What do you mean “no identified outbreaks in public and private schools in the state?” Is Cherokee County not part of the state?
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/12/us/georgia-school-coronavirus.html

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  32. DSW2Contributor

    “The Clinch County school system closed 350-student Clinch County High School from Friday through Sept. 28, saying many students have been exposed to the coronavirus and are under quarantine.”
    https://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/covid-19-suspends-in-person-high-school-in-south-georgia/O4BUJHAPI5FHTM6OFO3O6FFLIU/

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  33. DSW2Contributor

    “ATLANTA, GA — While coronavirus numbers overall are still dropping, Georgia schools are now flaring up as the latest hotspots for COVID-19.

    According to statistics released Tuesday by the Georgia Department of Public Health, 42 percent of the state’s outbreaks from Sept. 6-12 occurred at schools, while only 16 percent occurred at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.”
    https://patch.com/georgia/dallas-hiram/ga-schools-outpaced-nursing-homes-new-coronavirus-outbreaks

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  34. DSW2Contributor

    AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) – Another Richmond County elementary school has been temporarily closed due to COVID-19 just a day after Garrett Elementary School was forced to close for more than two weeks.

    According to the Richmond County School System, Glenn Hills Elementary School has been asked to close and suspend face-to-face instruction until Oct. 5 because of “coronavirus activity at the school.”

    https://www.wfxg.com/story/42684175/glenn-hills-elementary-school-closed-for-a-week-owing-to-covid19

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  35. Richmond county’s rate of infection has dropped to 20% of what it was before school’s reopened. They have closed school’s when a child or staff member with coronavirus was identified. It has not lead to outbreaks in the community. Cherokee county is down two thirds since school’s reopened. Across the state infection rates have continued to drop during the 6 weeks that schools have been opened. When DeKalb opens there will be cases of infection in the schools. Across the state, in the first month schools reopened at lease 275 schools have had active cases, https://www.11alive.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/georgia-covid-19-schools-fueling-new-outbreaks-reports-show/85-3b36c3f7-a171-4e78-9e51-17e8af481c70 It is impossible to not have a student come in with the virus in a district of 100,000 students, but across the states school’s have opened and infection rates have continued to drop.

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  36. Atlanta elementary temporarily closes due to positive COVID-19 cases
    Angelina VelasquezPosted Sep 29, 2020

    https://www.cbs46.com/news/atlanta-elementary-temporarily-closes-due-to-positive-covid-19-cases/article_69d02304-029b-11eb-8747-075545678792.html

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  37. Taking Covid Seriously

    What has DCSS done to protect the teachers and staff and students? Testing in place? A contact tracing plan in place for each school? Heat and air systems retrofitted to filter the air? Windows enabled to be opened? PPE for all those adults who come in contact with others? Who pays for that? What happens to the students when a teacher becomes ill or comes in contact with a covid positive person and who will fill in for 2 weeks–assuming they do not get sick?

    You do realize that many families have not embraced public spaces or stores for 8 hours in one building, since March, right? No one in my family has been in a restaurant, on vacation or any public place since March. We all took this very seriously, in order to protect ourselves and others, yet you are asking the entire school population to now come together with those who haven’t and have been reckless with their contacts?

    It is totally irresponsible and cruel to put anyone back in buildings before all the above is taken care of. The phase plan addresses none of this, as far as I have seen. This should not be thought of as throw them in the schools and see what happens. There is no harm done to wait until January. All I envision is total disruption. Other school systems in other states are already closing again. This is ignoring a once-in a lifetime pandemic.

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  38. Dekalb teacher

    I’m all for going back and teaching if it’s done safely. But I just am not confidant DeKalb has the ability to do that.

    1. The county says it is giving us sanitizing and cleaning supplies: I want details. How much and what? If the rumors I’m hearing are true the answer to this question will make you laugh (or cry)

    2. Talk to me about the HVAC upgrades. Because I was up at my school yesterday it was hot and muggy and did not feel like anything had changed.

    3. I am using my own personal computer at home because the county chromebook is terrible. My desktop at school does not have a camera and I’m told I have to use the chromebook. I can ASSURE you my quality of teaching will decrease if I’m using the chromebook.

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  39. Common Sense Isn't

    A few suggestions in order to keep everyone safe based on teacher/staff feedback:

    1. Sell all of the school buildings and administrative buildings.

    2. Cut staff and teachers in half (maybe more) and we can ramp up to 50:1 student/teacher ratio since it’s virtual.

    3. Slash the budget down to around $100M to facilitate technology and overhead. Return the other $900M to property owners.

    Teachers and staff (what’s left of them) are kept safe, no issues with HVAC/facilities, and citizens are adequately compensated for their educational services.

    Eliminates the ‘covid testing metrics’ debates on what to include/exclude. Eliminates HVAC risk (seriously, based on the feedback above I’m surprised anyone voluntarily stepped in a building before). Eliminates constituent complaining.

    Sound good?

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  40. Quit complaining

    I’m honestly tired of the longwinded complaining from so many teachers. You aren’t the only ones who have malfunctioning AC systems, young kids or older parents. Other school districts and teachers have managed all of these issues (and more) to reopen.

    My child is getting maybe an hour a week of “education” in this supposedly successful system. That’s simply WRONG. He deserves better, especially when practically every other school district is reopening.

    It’s time. Quit complaining, make your decision to stay or leave, and lets move forward.

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  41. I’m having a hard time understanding how many infections there are given those new stories. A lot of people are being quarantined.

    I think there should be more discussion about the risk profiles for people. It’s misleading to say old people and young people are dying from covid. The question is how many kids and how many old people. It’s too vague to say teachers are at serious risk. We need to ask which teachers are at risk and how large is that risk.

    It’s also unfortunate that we are using “cases” as a measuring stick. It’s not exactly a tragedy when somebody gets covid and is then fine. Obviously that person should isolate and wear a mask, etc … But that person who caught it and is fine is now no longer a vehicle for transmission.

    Atlanta Elementary School – Sept 29 – 3+ Students or Staff Members have a positive diagnosis.

    Butts County school closes – Sept 23 – unknown number of students or staff infected – lots of people told to quarantine

    “Schools fueling new COVID-19 outbreaks” – Sept 23 – state reports indicating more than 100 such outbreaks have been reported since Aug. 30 … There have been 275 outbreaks reported in schools, with the data indicating a rise of 115 since Aug. 30. (Note: There are 180 public school districts … so I’m not sure if that’s a lot or not)

    Glenn Hills Elementary School – Sept – unknown number of students or staff infected

    High school in South Georgia – unknown number of students or staff infected

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  42. Absolutely unaccetable

    @Quit Complaining

    I don’t know what school your child goes to, but where I work, teachers have 5 classes a day and there are a required number of assignments that have to go in the gradebook. Not only are teachers being diligent about these lesson, but they are also still being observed by admin. I agree with you that an hour of education a week is unaccebtable, but I certainly don’t think that’s the norm. Most of us are working HARD for your children and breaking our backs to find ways to make these digital lessons more engaging. Don’t blanket that lack of effort on all teachers in the system…speak to the admin at your school and figure something out. That’s not right.

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  43. Keeping it Real

    Instead of talking about the probability of mass death or of rampant spread, I’d like to know what the data says is the probability of a student acquiring COVID-19 in a school with the same variables (same number of students, same amount of contact, same airflow and cleanliness, etc.) as my kid’s school. What is the statistical probability of fatality if my kid gets it? What is the statistical probability of long-term health issues? Immunodeficiency problems? Latent issues that could surmount later in life? If we were playing poker, would you bet a lot or a little with these odds? How much will you risk losing? Your child’s health?

    10
  44. Stan, I agree with your comment above. There is a huge distinction between a case of covid and a hospitalization or death. But its impossible to tell from the public health data published what’s truly happening in terms of severity. I don’t think it’s possible to avoid cases in schools because we have too many students and the odds simply say it’s going to happen. There will be schools or classes in DeKalb that have to quarantine. But, we’ve already missed two months of in person school. My children presently get about 40% of the live instruction they would get during in person school. Teachers instruct two days a week, not five, that really matters. Those that returned have not seen mass outbreaks. I fear that we’ve waited so long that by the time we go back there will be another wave of infection which will shut us down again and we are falling behind. There is obviously a balance that needs to be maintained between safety and education and it seems that there is enough data now to try to get back to school.

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  45. @AJ Rollins

    Great points. While we may not have specifics from individual “outbreaks” at schools- and I use the term “outbreaks” very loosely, as some people will say one case constitutes an “outbreak”, since it might end up causing an entire class or school to quarantine out of EXTREME (over)caution. Cases are going to happen, you just have to understand & acknowledge that and react to them appropriately.

    One thing we know is that Covid-related deaths & hospitalizations have fallen sharply across Georgia, and never showed any significant “post-school starting” uptick. As a state, we peaked in our 7-day rolling average of deaths (based on Date of Death, not the less accurate Date of Report) at 73 on August 13. As of Sept. 24 (the nearest day outside of the 14-day reporting window) we were at 23. That’s 50 deaths per day down from our peak, and that number is only continuing to drop.

    DeKalb County peaked at a 7-day rolling average of 5 deaths per day on July 29. We have been below 2 deaths per day since August 27, and haven’t had a single death (again, based on Date of Death) since Sept. 16- over 3 weeks ago. So Covid isn’t exactly decimating our county at this point. Hell, DeKalb County had 125 homicides in 2019- statistically if you’re under the age of 60 in DeKalb, you have a far greater chance of being murdered than you do dying of or with Covid (81 deaths under 60 as of today; zero under 17; only 5 under 30).

    In terms of hospitalizations, statewide our peak came at the end of July with around 3,200 people hospitalized at one time from or with Covid. As of yesterday that number was 1,300. For Region D, which includes DeKalb & several other metro Atlanta counties, hospitalizations peaked in mid-July at around 1,000. Yesterday they were at 286. Again, that’s not just for DeKalb but a large swath of metro Atlanta. Extremely low numbers.

    It’s crazy to me that so many people still see Covid as a death sentence. But when that’s all they hear in the media for months on end- and even then, most people only read headlines or hear soundbites- I guess it’s not that surprising. Sad, but not surprising.

    All the people who talk (brag?) about having not been out of their house since March just make me shake my head. There’s an entire world still waiting for you outside those doors- live your life! When I go into a store I wear a mask. When I go into a restaurant I wear one when I’m walking to my table & walking back out. I don’t generally wear them when I’m outside and (somewhat) socially distanced from other parents at my kids’ soccer games (which have been going on for months, with no issues, by the way!). Some people wear them, some don’t. You’re outside, not a big deal. I never wore one at the pool or tennis court, which in our neighborhood were open all summer with no issues. I just can’t imagine being so afraid of a virus with a 99.99+% survival rate for most age groups that I would hole up like a hermit for almost an entire year, but apparently some people have decided it’s worth it.

    8
  46. F2F Option Now

    Two weeks to flatten the curve has turned into people wanting indefinite virtual learning. When will you ever feel safe again? It’s really sad to see how people are being lead by fear and not facts. I blame the media and I blame many of the board members for perpetuating this fear. I believe that blood is on the hands of those perpetuating fear. This irrational fear is leading to prolonged school closures and increases in child abuse, depression, substance abuse, physical inactivity, poverty, etc etc etc. People need to wake up to these realities. While I am not a huge fan of Dr. Watson-Harris’ plan to return, I am impressed with her leadership and leaning on data and facts. She is obviously weighing ALL the risks out there unlike many of her constituents.

    As always, Stan, thank you for trying to be a voice of reason.

    8
  47. Alison Mercer

    Unfortunately, I fear we are about to see an even larger increase in teacher early retirements, leaves of absence, resignations, and attempted litigation.

    23
  48. TKES??? LOL!

    As usual, DeKalb has screwed teachers and put more on our plates to manage, knowing this will be impossible to execute well. I’ve decided to stop playing the game. At some point, you either have to stop stacking the blocks, or come to terms with the fact that all the blocks are going to fall. DeKalb has lied about our furlough days, has not paid teachers from the PL days, cut our pay, and now is sending us back into the buildings with no ppe, no additional custodial staff, no plexi glass to protect teachers (like Gwinnett had the decency to do), and NO plan for how we’re supposed to teach virtually and in-person simultaneously. Oh, AND they’re still observing us and doing TKES this year. I no longer care about TKES. I usually get 3s and multiple 4s, and I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll be getting 1s and 2s. My number one priority is keeping myself safe so I can be healthy and alive for MY family and MY children. I will NOT help clean the building (as DeKalb has requested of teachers), I will NOT risk my health and safety by walking around the classroom and teaching small groups up close with students, and I will NOT raise my blood pressure trying to figure out how to teach f2f and virtually at the same time. If DeKalb actually wanted this to go well, they should have hired additional staff and resources to ensure this model’s success. Instead, they expect teachers to be: nurses, social workers, babysitters, custodians, healthcare workers, tech support, parents AND teachers for the students. My degrees and certifications are in teaching-not any of those other professions. I will likely have students stay at their desks and sit in front of their computers while I sit 12-15 feet away in my mask and teach in front of my computer. If I get 1s and 2s on my TKES, then so be it.

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  49. dekalbteacher

    For all wanting a return to school,

    Instead of talking about whether we should or shouldn’t go to school or whether numbers of cases and percentages of hospitalizations and deaths mean we will or won’t die, please focus on the facts. The virus is here. The virus is airborne. The virus is a virus. Pretend that if people aren’t getting hospitalized at the same rate they were in the spring, then everything is ok. Erroneously compare it to the flu if you want. I don’t know anyone who says they want the flu. People get sick for days-days that will remove teachers and students from the face-to-face schooling.

    If you want face-to-face school, then demand a safe, or at least sensible, environment to do so. Demand that the superintendent and board explain how they’ve identified the indoor and outdoor learning spaces where students and teachers can meet because there is proper ventilation, what equipment the district has purchased and installed to provide proper ventilation, the number and type of masks the district has purchased to protect teachers, staff, students, and all the Dekalb families that are affected by face-to-face school.

    24
  50. Concerned Citizen

    @Dunwoody Dad, I appreciate your voice of reason. Unfortunately, I don’t see many people who can be reasoned with these days, and the blame for the irrational fear that grips a majority falls evenly on elected officials, unethical journalists, and a public that prefers its ignorance and to be led about and lied to by fabulists and crooked politicians.

    4
  51. I have answers

    @dekalbteacher. Some schools are new and some are old. We go to the grocery store or school in the building we have. Learning spaces and ventilation will never be good enough to prevent the spread of viruses. So the question becomes, what is good enough. I doubt any of us know enough about the spread of viruses or ventilation to speculate what is good enough. The WHO provides guidelines on what to do, but there is no metric for what is good enough.

    1
  52. Concerned Citizen

    For an example of a public official undeserving of a position making decisions for other parents, please see Gregory Hutchings, the superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools, who stated his concerns back in July about “people who have the means … can cause some inequities if some kids can do things and others can’t.” He was complaining that “If you’re able to put your child in a learning pod, your kids are getting ahead. The other students don’t get that same access.”

    And where is Hutchings’ oldest son going to school now? Hutchings pulled his oldest son out of ACPS, which is restricted to all-virtual classes, and is sending his son to a private Catholic school with a hybrid model.
    https://reason.com/2020/10/07/alexandria-public-schools-superintendent-gregory-hutchings/

    1
  53. dekalbteacher

    I have answers,

    That attitude is frustrating, and that analogy is just wrong.

    Old or new buildings have windows and doors, cafeterias and other large spaces.
    Private schools have erected tents. Other school districts in the country have capitalized on open space and under-used community spaces.

    People shopping in grocery stores are not spending the same extended time in a space the size of a classroom with the same few people. People working in grocery stories are not spending the same extended time in a space the size of a classroom with the same few people. Masses of people are not squeezed into grocery store aisles the way students will be in hallways.

    There are some pretty good metrics. Compare the recent White House outbreak to any sensible metro area outdoor youth sports clubs. Compare the number of cases in any college town that’s letting students run rampant in bars and having parties in dorms and houses to one that’s not.

    It’s bad enough that many of the people demanding in-person schooling are willing to put everyone in the community at risk by pretending that this isn’t real, this isn’t that bad, that a pandemic or illness or whatever you want to call it is supposed to be convenient. But to argue that we need to return to school and accept that this is just the way it is, especially when the district has been given millions in federal coronavirus relief aid? I don’t think so.

    23
  54. I have answers

    dekalbteacher, Please tell us exactly what the metrics are for adequate conditions. You said tents and open spaces. Most private schools don’t have tents nor do they utilize the open spaces I assume you are referring to … you weren’t very specific on the adequate metrics for open spaces.

    Please tell us what these metrics are so we can obtain them for you.

    3
  55. dekalbteacher

    I have answers,

    Paideia and the Waldorf school are using outdoor tents. One was featured on WABE in August.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all elementary, middle, and high schools “utilize outdoor spaces when possible” and also says that singing, exercise, and band “are safest outdoors and spread out.” It also recommends that lunch take place outside.

    Decatur has installed global cold plasma air purification systems in all its schools.

    Cases are rising in Dekalb, Gwinnett, and Fulton. Students may live in Dekalb, but teachers and staff may live in counties all over the metro area. I don’t know what percentage of teachers and staff have underlying conditions and won’t be reporting to face-to-face school. I don’t know the number or percentage of people who have Covid and get symptoms that would prevent them from working, but I’m thinking that the district would need that personnel data and public health data to know how many teachers its starting face-to-face with and how many more can be expected to be out because they or their families are sick. NPR ran a story about teaching during Covid. According to that story, 50% of the nation’s teachers have a child/children under the age of 18. Before I’d get too excited about returning to school or start measuring the space between indoor or outdoor desks, I’d ask how many subs the district has and what it’s plan for instruction is when someone in the room has symptoms. Think virtual learning is bad? Wait until your child has three different “teachers” and emergency sub folder assignments.

    Those may not be the metrics you’re looking to find, but they are facts that underscore the need to do in-person school smartly.

    23
  56. I have answers

    @dekalbteacher. Half my kids go to private school. They neither utilize tents nor outdoor spaces. DCSD has outdoor spaces. As recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics, DCSD will use outdoor spaces when possible.

    Cases are not rising in Dekalb. Cases are falling in Dekalb which is why we are under 100 now and why DCSD is starting to move to hybrid.

    The metrics I’m looking are something measurable and achievable so I can help teachers say ‘yes’ dekalb is ready.

    4
  57. Demographics

    Your weekly TOD drop
    For Whom The School Bell Tolls
    The back-to-school bell is about to ring and it isn’t clear if that bell is not cracked. In DeKalb many of the hell-no-we-won’t-go teachers appear serious about not showing up, though some will seek paycheck protection under the FMLA. The focus has been on the most vocal group, the teachers, but will parents heed the call and send in the kids?

    The hybrid approach offers limited schoolhouse time and the rule of “one is remote–all are remote” mitigates almost all of what value there may be to in-the-classroom presence. The limited schedule will not provide the freedom that parents who cannot work from home need to get their jobs done. For parents able to stay at home the crippling limitations of hybrid may cause further disengagement. What will they do? What are their options? And since this is DeKalb, what are their demographics?

    In many cases options are already being explored. Edu-Pods are forming. Homeschool is getting a serious look by parents that otherwise would never have considered that option. Virtual academics, beyond the DCSD OJT option, are gaining traction. And there are always private schools with increased demand driving the creation of new schools.

    Options are limited by the demographics of the parents. High income, already-remote workers can leverage most if not all of these options. As the collar shifts from white to blue, viable options fall off. This phenomena will vary by geography to the extent that income and flexibility vary. And it will probably track voting characteristics as well.

    And the result? Many who can will leave the public school system leaving behind those philosophically wedded to public education and those who simply cannot access other options. The demographic skew will push towards an impoverished school system with little hope of overcoming longstanding, systemic financial, operational and educational failings.

    If you thought things at DeKalb County Schools could not get any worse this pandemic may be enlightening.

    https://theotherdunwoody.blogspot.com/2020/10/for-whom-school-bell-tolls.html

    6
  58. DSW2Contributor

    The GA Dept of Health’s “County Indicator Report (10/05/20) said Dekalb’s 14-day confirmed case rate (per 100K) is 109.

    You can see for yourself…. go to the DPH”s daily update page:
    https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

    Scroll way down to the bottom, then click on the “County Indicator Reports”. On the next page, click on the County Indicator Report (10/05/20). Then click the “Cases” tab and then scroll down to Dekalb.

    13
  59. TOD and others have spent weeks daring teachers to quit their jobs and find other professions, thinking teachers were joking about not returning. Now that they see teachers have drawn a line in the sand and are not willing to die for our paychecks, they want to use the new tactic of blaming teachers for total poverty and economic ruin on DeKalb. Why don’t you spend some time blaming the president and governor for their piss-poor handling of this pandemic? Demand more from your government officials, who had every opportunity to stop this from getting as bad as it has. I informed my principal that I will not be returning. My children are more important than this job. My family is more important than this job. My life is more important than this job. If I return to teaching, it definitely won’t be in DeKalb.

    33
  60. Dunwoody Dad

    @DSW2Contributor

    You are pretty much correct. As of Oct. 2- which is the last date that the Oct. 5 County Indicator Report you referenced includes data from- the 14-day confirmed case rate per 100K was 108. They say 109, but that small difference is probably due to some lags in reporting. I have created a spreadsheet that I update several times a day showing not only the 14-day confirmed case rate per 100K based on Date of Report, but also on Date of Onset, which is far more accurate that Date of Report data. Date of Report can include cases that may have occurred days or weeks or even months ago, but were just reported after the fact- sometimes far after. Meanwhile, Date of Onset data does come with a two-week “buffer” to account for lags in reporting, but shows a more accurate, steadier picture that is less prone to things like “weekends & Mondays are almost always low and Tuesdays & Wednesdays are almost always high” that you see with Date of Report.

    Based on Date of Onset data, we actually went below the 100 case threshold way back on Sept. 17 when we hit 99. In the 8 days since the numbers are as follows: 98, 97, 98, 97, 94, 93, 92, 91. To confirm, I go back & adjust the numbers from prior dates in case there are changes to the data as newer reports come in, just for the sake of accuracy. It happens pretty often that a daily number will increase or decrease by 1 or 2, even several days later, but rarely more than that (it’s usually that one date gets shifted to a day before or after). FYI- Date of Onset case numbers are typically between 12-25% lower than Date of Report numbers for the same date.

    I know why DeKalb has chosen to use Date of Report vs. Date of Onset. It’s easier to say you’re using numbers that appear to be up-to-date and don’t include a 2 week lag, even if those numbers are guaranteed to be less accurate. It’s just simpler for people to follow- and from what I can tell, many of our board members need “simple”. But what that really means is we have been below the 100 case threshold for 23 days now, far longer than the district’s mandated 14-day threshold. We should have already started the process of returning to F2F learning that our kids need & deserve. Hopefully there won’t be any additional hold-ups moving forward.

    4
  61. Saw this and thought I’d share. It’s okay for teachers to view our jobs as a means to put food on our tables like everyone else views their jobs. We don’t have to be bullied and coerced into doing more than we are paid to do. We are not “heroes” or “martyrs”. We are teachers who do our jobs and expect to be respected and paid for that job. The idea that we should be willing to take whatever is thrown at us without expressing our concerns is abusive, and society has become accustomed to trampling all over teachers on a whim. Remember how we went from being “heroes” in March to being “selfish” in August because we were scared to work in buildings during a deadly pandemic? We are not responsible for fixing all that ails society, nor are we responsible for what a child may be lacking at home. Our job is to simply take the standards we are given by the state and teach those standards to the best of our ability. If we can’t be respected enough to be allowed to do that safely, then we must stand up for ourselves. Don’t let any of these other people make you feel badly about caring about yourselves and your families more than you do this job. Teaching is a job, not a lifestyle. I’m sure the other “essential workers” they’re comparing us to are in it for the paychecks as well. But, somehow, teachers are the only ones who are lambasted for expressing that view. If you are going back into the building to teach, remember to put yourselves and your families first. The parents who are screaming about “choice” and forcing teachers back into dangerous working conditions sure don’t mind putting themselves and their families above your health and safety.

    https://www.weareteachers.com/toxic-positivity-schools/?utm_content=1602000261&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR1LJw0Xaya6SDTarNVsKCEx5jBY4jLMvFYNvM_cGVOwvCxuFl4h3iX6VWM

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  62. Someone brought up Miami schools going back to f2f, bowing to pressure from that idiot governor, as a reason why DeKalb should. Didn’t take long for COVID to hit. Only day 4 of partial reopening and there are at least 6 schools with new outbreaks.

    https://www.local10.com/news/local/2020/10/09/list-of-public-schools-with-coronavirus-cases-grows-in-miami-dade-county/

    13
  63. Concerned parent and teacher

    Hybrid should not be an option. Either send us back face to face 5 days a week or keep us home. The back and forth is not fair to anyone. Also, the teaching/learning in a hybrid model is pure garbage. Do you really want your child sitting at computer for 7 hours? They won’t be able to leave their desk. Recess will be social distanced with masks on. Other school districts doing it nationwide say hybrid is a waste and not an effective method of teaching. Please send teachers and students all back 5 days per week or keep them virtual.

    17
  64. Dunwoody Dad

    @SMH

    The article about the “outbreaks” in Miami seems like mostly hearsay & anecdotal stories. They have confirmed ONE case at ONE school. Are they seriously counting ONE CASE as an OUTBREAK? I mean, I thought we had seen slanted media coverage & fear-mongering, but I guess we’re taking it to another level now.

    Meanwhile, President of the United Teachers of Dade (I’m guessing this is a teachers’ union down there) claims that there are at least 6schools with “outbreaks”- again, with no definition of what an outbreak is. What the hell do you think that person is going to say? Teachers unions across the country have been uniformly against F2F reopening, just like they are against anything & everything that Republicans are for (school choice, holding teachers accountable, etc.). That’s not exactly breaking news.

    Also, let’s keep things in perspective- Miami-Dade County is, per their website, “the fourth largest school district in the United States, comprised of 392 schools, 345,000 students and over 40,000 employees”. Was anyone with half a brain really thinking that out of that many schools, students, & teachers, there weren’t going to be positive cases at some point? Let’s put this into some context, please. Six schools with cases would mean that 98.5% of schools have no cases (yet). My guess is MOST schools will end up having SOME cases, it’s just how they handle them & move on from them that’s important. Cases do NOT equal hospitalizations or deaths in any significant numbers, especially among students and those under 70 years old, no matter how brainwashed many of you have become by the fear-mongering in the news.

    2
  65. Disgusted with hearing the typical self centered nonsense from individuals who live in their own little bubble caring nothing for the safety and concern of others. It’s sickening listening to the people who try to bully those who have been impacted directly or witnessed others burying loved ones and are taking this pandemic seriously have to sit back and be bullied by those who have 1-5 friends in their little bubble of anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists “it’s all a hoax by the bad bad media and out government is a saint while all those nasty teachers and staff won’t play babysitter because I can’t spend more than 5 minutes actually parenting” sheep, and worse. You want your kid to go to school F2F so desperately start your own and quit complaining about other parents, teachers, county members not willing to sacrifice their communities lives on your mouthful of trolling. Better yet do those of us who have worked directly with hospitals and patients a bigger favor, stroll through the halls of a COVID wing sans mask and take a deep breath in. Sign a waiver guaranteeing that as a hospital worker AND parent I do not have to treat you when your idiot self gets sick and sees how un-hoax like it is up close. You got to go to a game this season, goody for you, how about the young athlete who had to bury both his parents, why don’t we ask him if his season was worth it? You do not get to dictate whose lives are and are not of value beyond your own. Stop telling scared teachers and staff to go screw themselves and they have no cause to worry. DeKalb has bids in for PPE equipment BACK in spring, guess what (all the answers folks who no little about those), when the word came through to go virtual, those bids were CANCELLED. That’s right, they were not purchased. Instead of Dekalb doing what was needed to prep schools and put protocols in place for safety they chose not to. Instead they sat back (per usual) until the last minute and now are scrambling and asking teachers to do it all and be the sacrificial lambs while suffering silently or quitting and tough that makes you selfish for leaving these kids in need. Wrong. You don’t get to blame the teachers for the lack of support, training, and proper safety being handled. The county has had weeks to set up for multiple scenarios. They could have used it to buy tents or set up HVAC cleaning or new systems or added filtration units for classes since end of spring/end of summer even. They could have come up with protocols like other counties with books showing they’ve gone through scenarios and setup how they handle each set with more to come. How-tos in handling mask wearing, social distancing, no water fountains, how often cleaning would be done, etc. etc. Instead we’ve had “hidden agendas” fudged numbers and schools not having to report actual stats on what’s happening as they open because it makes it easier to maintain the illusion for those passing the blame to “teachers just not wanting to work”. It’s a ridiculous guise and pathetic at that. Schools would have been able to likely return this year had we had less self-centered individuals from the start. As it is we still have those pretending nothing happens because they are watching their own sound-bytes each night in their own bubble. My child up until DeKalb had testing this week has been on her virtual lessons every single day from 8AM for announcements to 2pm. She has some wonderful teachers and some average like always, one I think needs some work, but that’s me. Testing has caused them to cram classes in from 12 to 2 which is absolutely appalling. Let me clearly state THIS IS NOT THE TEACHERS FAULT, this was allowed by the idiotic state for allowing the “requirement of testing” to occur. Beyond that it’s called parenting, during the time my child isn’t in school, (in between my own full time job dealing with some innocent patients and other self-centered jackasses who several of us would prefer not to treat, much like teachers not wanting to be exposed, why we have to treat people who’ve deliberately exposed themselves nonsensically then had the audacity to risk healthcare workers and their families lives and ask us to utilize supplies and medical aid for them when we would prefer to use it on those who weren’t moronic selfish jerks who likely bred then opened their mouths to bully others all while (some) intentionally then infect others [and yes we have had people tell us they KNOWINGLY are ill and walk in places without masks], I digress, I came up with age appropriate extra studies as well as educational/fun materials for my child’s use of school didn’thave enough. My daughter has the ability to use the phone or laptop to call her friends and make group activities or do them solo. I bought her new books and gave her challenge lists to complete for some extra rewards when finished. She has learned how to do new things since this pandemic began, shocking, I know, she has survived. I am not pretending done people aren’t better off than others while some need more help, that hasn’t changed, instead of blaming the pandemic, offer to help those in need. Stop being a bully and telling teachers it’s on them because kids aren’tin school, we all have to just get back to it and ignore reality that we are in a pandemic. There isn’t any expiration date listed, so if you aren’t planning on helping place protocols, or asking what people in the community need to help, offering a phone call or help to get to someone abused where they need to be, or supplies to get kids and staff SAFELY returned, then please butt the hell out of conversations. We already hear those same speeches and see the few of you out picketing workout your masks. You want to talk safety, start asking DeKalb to hire more staff to be able to follow cleaning and safety guidelines, start going through lists of what children are returning vs. NOT and how many you are attempting to put in a class, PURCHASE PROPER PPE EQUIPMENT FOR THE SCHOOLS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE YEAR, ask the community per school if they want certain materials and figure out how much extra that would cost to obtain (such as plastic dividers), DO NOT ask your teachers to clean anything beyond their own rooms and utilized spaces, ask parents (if possible) to send children in with their own wipes etc. (and find out who can not afford it or find it and know what needs to be provided), stop using trash buckets and sweepers to “clean” cafeterias (are kids eating in their rooms ?) Who is monitoring halls or bathrooms for social distancing (are floors being marked), are lockers being used, are they using books or just their chrome books, are teachers doing separate lessons virtually or trying to teach facing a screen and their classes if in person, etc.? are water fountains being filtered and cleaned or simply not being used this year as a safety protocol (blocked off?), are kids switching classes? are teachers? who deals with children of anti-maskers (if they are taught to be imbeciles or self-centered like their parents therefore will deliberately not follow rules or try and push limits “hilariously” during class or in the hallways) are teachers meant to engage this disruptive behavior each class and will DeKalb schools allow it each time or will they tell the parents to come pick them up with immediate suspensions? Who deals with children getting ill (will a nurse be on site because certain DeKalb schools don’t have full time nurses or ones with the ability to do more than hand over an ice pack or bandaid? Will there be “specials” or separate larger classes still like chorus, gym, art, band, orchestra, etc.? Will all clubs suddenly resume activities or start being pushed? Will children who are “walkers vs. bus riders” be released en made into halls like a herd of cattle or has that been figured into the equation with distancing yet? Has getting into school (doors remain open all morning/afternoon?) another “safety issue” usually in general be allowed to limit touching of doors? Will temperatures be checked by school staff? Or are we even pretending some parents will actually do this because realistically some will and some will try to before deciding it’s not worth the time, and the few that are already uncaring will never do it (that’s reality). When a child is found to be ill do they go home immediately? Does the entire class or any they were in? Everyone plays quarantine for 2 weeks? What happens if you return and someone else is now sick? Back into a 2-week quarantine? How many quarantine periods before it’s considered disruptive to schedules overall? If children do get sick and their teacher or a friend becomes ill (or a friend takes it home and their family does) and someone dies is DeKalb preparing to help that family financially? (*We all know those who talk a big game and care so little definitely go silent then after all there’s who do get sick or potential lifelong issues or die is worth it so they don’t have to be bothered). Is DeKalb ready to handle that question because my child’s first concern returning wasn’t for herself, but her classmates, and her teachers (“Mom, I’m not worried about if I get sick as much, but if I get someone else who doesn’t get better sick? What if someone doesn’t make it? I know them. Wouldn’t that make it my fault?”). Now it’s all wonderful, well, and good those ready to sacrifice others, but if the superintendent and county hasn’t started properly putting things in order and preparing budgets for help (as well as severe counselor training because like it or not some of these kids will be scared to return and only there as they were shoved by their parents to be babysat by a teacher who while they love their job and students may resent having been forced to return in an unsafe environment, it will not be the “pleasant normal” school day for most) then let’s be honest DeKalb (regardless of the numbers) IS NOT READY TO RETUFN F2F. Get things in order, be ready to answer all questions put forth by parents, have as many procedures for safety in place, and get the damn air systems cleaned, replaced, and working correctly (& others stop pretending the budget granted was given to the schools in proper ways because especially the one given by the government was a pathetic number) then start the cycle of trying to get back in classes. Before that’s done it’s a quarantine numbers game ahead, how many open and how many days before you quarantine? After that hoe many more times before you complain the schools opened to soon? Or it’s their fault Simone came in sick and now you are out for 2-weeks? Again! Where does your blame on teachers officially end then, that they got sick, but didn’t die? You just have a few severe problems now, severe fatigue, and hair loss, no big deal though, get to work, cough in your mask, but teach teach teach! Or well, it’s a shame that teacher died, but it was only one, oh well definitely worth it right. Do us a favor, DeKalb, line up the teachers and staff and allow the trolls behind the keyboard to in person tell their schools which people they think are ok to sacrifice, and then the students and their families, just a few, but make the selections who they think it’s ok to potentially sacrifice or watch suffer? Any takers? Board members or superintendent maybe instead? No. How about instead you let the families choose what’s right for them then financially as well as safety-wise and stop trying to force anyone else unless you are taking on their responsibilities & financial obligations (should anything happen). If the county isn’t ready to supply PPE and staff with equipment they aren’t ready to handle financial responsibilities for families in crisis either. If you don’t have funding set aside for teachers potential sick leave after getting ill (long-term possibly) or the ability to pay for their funeral or help their families, the county doesn’t belong “forcing” decisions or they damn well deserve being sued or losing every decent teacher they have. DeKalb county needs to step up big time before trying to even ask anyone to return and as for those asking for glorified babysitters while playing the blame game need to sit down and shut up or step up and start helping to allow for a safe return for everyone possible (either way stop bullying people taking this seriously or do us a favor walk the walk and do my job while I sit home cushily in yours).

    33
  66. Tongue in cheek

    Cases per 100,000 reported on 10/09
    101. Start that count all over, correct??

    21
  67. 101 cases today- are we restarting the clock?

    16
  68. Alison Mercer

    When is the next public Board Meeting (broadcast on channel 24 with XFinity)? I saw two different October dates on the website. I believe that with stated Rules, there should be a true one-hour Public virtual forum in the Board Mtg, where the public may individually ask questions. Anyone who breaks the rules of decorum and takes off on a “rant” gets silenced immediately, Including a particular Board Member (not Stan). Cut the microphone and go to the next person in the queue.
    Just like calling in to a radio show, with a time limit per person. Very easy to manage this process/technology. By now, there shouldn’t be any re-opening procedures or building safety questions that Board members and other key leaders invited to the meeting can’t answer.

    Additionally, where are the results from the recent teacher/ parent/student “Satisfaction Survey”? They should be released now, and not held until the next public Board Meeting. We need this important information to help steer our thoughts/perspectives.

    4
  69. @Over This BS <3 Yes! Thank you!

    7
  70. Common Sense Isn't

    I wonder if we’ll see a rise in the “city-hood” movement regarding schools in Dekalb county soon. I could see Dunwoody and Brookhaven, among others, looking to move towards more localized control, a la Decatur.

    The lack of coherent leadership and planning at the county/district level really does give credence that DCSD is really just a jobs program.

    4
  71. Just to clarify there is a lot unfair going on thanks to the pandemic everywhere. There are a lot of people getting away with not doing their jobs at all or correctly in places (including residential homes and hospitals), there are a lot of people unable to check on loved ones in person or get immediate care as needed, a lot of undiagnosed problems or things not being treated or handled ASAP which may/likely will worsen, there are a lot of people in need of assistance not receiving or or even asking because of everything. The point is stop being that selfish person who talks ignorantly or pretends and bullies selfishly and blaming. Find a constructive means to start helping everyone (in your area and county) to safely and efficiently get back to their “normal” ways. If you aren’t willing to help then do not continue to harass others. If you are here to spout “stats”, but haven’t experienced anything personally then understand your stats mean squat to someone who has. Understand you will not allay fear by spouting numbers either. People wants to see factual proof of safety being implemented and plans in place not as last minute ideas or harebrained thrown together emails telling them we are getting back it in this way, but oh there’s nothing in it stating how we will be doing so safely for everyone. The “we just will” attitude is great for the last mile, but you can’t skip the first several in getting there. DeKalb needs to put out what they are doing over the next several weeks or start adding the community to help get everyone prepared. If they can’t do that they aren’t ready yet. If you aren’t ready to step in and offer help to get people back (safely for ALL not just you) then be quiet because you aren’t helping anyone nor were you ever. If you are ready to start effectively helping implement procedures and checks in place or create lists for teachers/staff and the community at large per school or area please do so. If you have the ability and time to put in or the know-how to get something set up or someone to volunteer following skills etc. call the superintendent or boards and get involved. If the only thing you have is a set of numbers it won’t help as it changes constantly (yes it can tell you patterns and upward and downward trends), but you can get data and articles from several sources and often whatever you are looking for you will eventually find (especially if it’s a “side”). People aren’t looking only at stats who are afraid or who have dealt with this personally they are looking at safety measures for their loved ones. Focus on that and let’s start seeing Dekalb help lose divisiveness by getting those together who are trying to help get people ready to go back. It would be wonderful and a welcome thing to see (not self centered individuals as those don’t change), working in tandem as a whole community to get teachers (who want to be in class physically) feel ready to do so, students back in person (safely without fear of bringing home a virus), the most effective way to open so we won’t be playing shut down quarantine every other week), parents content in their choice for their families without being bullied or feeling pressure to either return or pull their children out of the system), and a board/superintendent that releases data (like surveys given immediately after results are read) not just following stats as well as hearing the entire communities needs for a truly safe and effective return (which means admitting truthfully what EACH school does and does not have in place and what is still needed). A set of actual protocols readily in place visible as well as a spot or area for community members to add ideas or send emails to a designated party to help get schools ready or find people able to help do so. Let’s get serious and start seeing that then we can discuss starting a clock on returning.

    14
  72. So the count starts over right? It’s at 101 and that’s over 100.

    12
  73. @Over The BS

    Thank you. I hope someone is reading, listening, and actually wants to do the right thing.

    8
  74. Dunwoody Dad,

    My best friend’s uncle was a healthy man in his 40s. He contracted Covid and died 3 days later. All his family got was a picture of a cardboard box that contained his remains. That’s it. No funeral and no family by his side. I don’t care how much you think the media is blowing this out of proportion; the fact is, 215,000 people have died from Covid. There is no way to tell why some people recover from it and others don’t, but I will not allow you all to use me as your guinea pig because you (for reasons beyond my understanding) want to shove your kids out the door and into a petri dish (also known as a public school). My children’s last memory of me will not be a picture of my remains in a cardboard box.

    29
  75. Good lord, Dunwoody Dad, you’re a Republican? Never would’ve guessed you would be a supporter of the party of cowards who made Faustian bargains with Trump. The party of putting babies in cages, dog-whistling white nationalist rhetoric, encouraging stochastic terrorism, seeking to control women’s bodies, demonizing immigrants, encouraging cults like Q, looking to dismantle protections for LGBTQ people, privatizing public education, stripping healthcare away from millions of people, suppressing votes, I could go on. Republicans have given me ZERO reason to trust them because all they do is lie or sit quietly as Trump lies and stomps all over the constitution. Republicans will be, as usual, on the wrong side of history once this nightmare of an administration is over in January.

    Maybe teachers unions are against everything Republicans are for but whose fault is that? What have Republicans done to earn our trust and support? Not a damn thing. These Republicans are the ones accusing teachers of being traitors for expressing concern for our safety. They’re the ones calling us lazy. I

    You look at numbers but do you see human lives? Students in my school community have buried family members bc of COVID. And who knows if the outbreak will make its way to individuals who are medically fragile.

    But, hey, COVID is a blessing from God, so maybe I’m overreacting.

    14
  76. SMH … when you say Trump puts babies in cages, that undermines your entire comment. Those are Obama’s cages. Jake Siverstein, Editor in Chief of The New York Times Magazine, published pictures of children sleeping in cages and was beating Trump over the head with it. As it turns out, the pictures were from 2014.

    6
  77. DSW2Contributor

    ^^^^^^^ @Common Sense Isn’t – “I wonder if we’ll see a rise in the “city-hood” movement regarding schools in Dekalb county soon. ”
    ———————————————
    The Georgia State Constitution, specifically Article VIII Education, Section V, Local School Systems, *prohibits* the creation of new independent school systems. That means that cities (Dunwoody, etc.) cannot go start their own city school districts.

    3
  78. Please. Don’t even begin to compare Obama to Trump. Obama did it in 2014 in response to a surge in *unaccompanied* minors fleeing violence from Central America (violence that exists bc of US policy in Central America in the 80s). It was meant to be only temporary, for 72 hours, and then the kids were passed on to health and human services.

    Trump, on the other hand, separated families, in some cases taking breastfeeding infants away from their mothers. The separation was the point, not a reaction.

    Would it strengthen my argument, Anonymous, if I included the forced medical procedures on women at Irwin? The forced hysterectomies on women who didn’t even know what was happening?

    9
  79. Whoa … Can we stay on topic? I’m happy to post something about national politics and we can let the national politics rip there.

    9
  80. seriously, Stan?! I was just responding to your buddy’s statement about teachers rejecting Republican ideas and explaining why. The personal is political, especially right now. For some, politics is literally a matter of life or death.

    5
  81. Politics is a matter of life or death … I hear you. I’m just trying to nip this in the bud. Let’s please keep this civil and on the rails. Like I said, I’m happy to let this go off the rails in another article if people want to go at it here.

    “your buddy” … I don’t know Dunwoody Dad any more than I know you.

    5
  82. We need to think of it like this: let’s say you are at a Braves game where there are 100,000 fans. The Braves win and you are walking out euphoric. Then the announcer says: 100 of you will be shot on your way out the door. Would that cause panic or fear? There are several options that could happen— you are one of the 99,900 who did not get shot, the bullet grazed you, the bullet hit a major artery and you have to be hospitalized and have several surgeries and a long recovery, or the bullet kills you. How do you know what will happen to you? If you had known about this beforehand, would you still have gone to the game? We all have choices to make. Do not judge others for what they choose for themselves; their views are just as valid as yours.

    22
  83. Question for stan

    Stan: cases are back up to 101 per 100k. Does that mean we reset the time? According to the Boar’s plan, that is what the protocol is.

    11
  84. I have answers

    Izzy Belle, Let’s say the Brave’s stadium holds 100,000 fans and 1 fan is shot at every game. Would you go to the game? Of course not. But you wouldn’t have any problems going to school during flu season. When you get out of bed, the odds of you dying increase. You get in a car, plane, go swimming, etc … the odds of you dying go up.

    4
  85. Stan, any idea what happens with the number of cases/100k going up to 101 today?

    2
  86. When the number of cases goes over 100, my understanding is that the clock starts over. It’s not the board’s decision. We’ll see what the superintendent does.

    13
  87. I have answers

    COVID is more lethal than the flu. It’s also more contagious. More people have died from COVID in 2020 than people who died in the past 5 flu seasons.

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/07/coronavirus-deadlier-than-many-believed-infection-fatality-rate-cvd/

    9
  88. I have answers

    SMH. Yes. Different activities have different death rates. Flu, COVID, swimming, getting on the highway. So, where do we draw the line? This is why we talk about risk vs what you get out of it. How important is education?

    2
  89. covid average???

    I heard that there was a principal’s meeting with the district office today and they were told that the district is using an average to determine when to return to the building. Does anyone know what “average” they are referring?

    2
  90. Look. I’m a teacher and a parent so obviously I think education is important. But you cannot equate not staying out of school during flu season with COVID. My daughter had a wonderful DeKalb teacher last year, but she is a cancer survivor with a weakened immune system. I hate the thought of her returning to the classroom (which she will do bc she cannot afford not to). She’ll be vulnerable and while there’s no way of knowing, is it worth the risk?

    Furthermore, we don’t know the long term effects of Covid -19. There are reports of people who had Covid-19 months ago but are still battling it.

    I’d feel better if we had actual leadership that mandated mask wearing. Instead, we have allowed a culture of anti-maskers to behave irresponsibly. When I drive out to the mostly white (yup, I said it) suburbs I see so many people not wearing masks. It only takes a spark to start a fire as evidenced in the infamous Rose Garden event.

    I do not want my life or my kid’s life or her elderly grandparents’ lives at risk.

    28
  91. @ I have answers — I think the major difference between the flu and Covid is that little thing called a vaccine. We take preventative measures against the flu. Yes, people are afraid of dying— regardless the cause. We are talking probabilities and not possibilities…. anything is possible, but what is the likelihood? think you are trivializing something that for many people has been very, very real. I know someone who died from Covid-related issues. He was doing well—- on day 13 of his 14 day isolation- a blood clot stopped his heart. I guess he could have as likely died in car accident or plane crash. But the probability of him developing blood clots increased because of Covid. There are patients who have “recovered” from Covid who still have on-going medical issues, hospital bills, expensive medicine. So it’s not just about dying…. it’s about living too. I pray that no one in your family or any of the people you hold dear has to go through any of this. It seems we are all so self-centered these days trying to direct the outcomes we desire, and not the outcomes that are best. If we are all in the same boat, then what are we really missing? You want educators to go above and beyond for your child but yet you are not willing to go over and beyond for the teachers. That’s pretty sad and speaks to the value you give the people who spend a lot of time with your progeny. What if the teachers regarded your child the way you regard the teachers? Would that bring you joy or pain?

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  92. DeKalb Teacher

    Hi. I don’t normally comment, but I want to share with those who read this and are deciding whether to send their child/children back to f2f (one day a week) per DeKalb’s plan that there are 2 additional non-safety related factors beyond what I have read here that should be considered:

    #1) F2F will continue to be virtual learning. Instead of sitting at home at their desk having school on a digital device, students will be sitting at school in a desk having school on a digital device while wearing a mask. Students are to remain socially distanced during class, as are teachers. This means there’s no student to student or student to teacher interactions. There’s no collaboration. There’s no science lab activities. School will be just like it is now, but in a different physical environment.

    #2) Many teachers will be forced to go on emergency leave when F2F starts based on logistics alone (and many other teachers based on safety concerns for themselves or elderly loved ones they care for).

    What I mean by logistical issues is that if a teacher has children at home who also attends DeKalb public schools, the teacher is in an impossible spot. Teachers are required to be back in the classroom five days a week. Their own child or children however will only be allowed to go to their respective school buildings one day a week. This creates a child care issue for the teacher. They cannot go to work and leave their child or children unattended at home (if they don’t happen to have a spouse who works from home who is available to monitor the children). It is not safe to leave younger children home alone and unattended, and teachers are not allowed by DeKalb to bring their own children to their schools. Thus, many teachers will be forced to take federal emergency leave through the end of the semester. Thankfully the federal government provides some salary support for teachers who find themselves in that circumstance (which is bound to be many teachers across the district), but very, very unfortunately, DeKalb children will then be very short on teachers. Who will teach the students?! It’s not like there are subs available to step in?? And what’s so terribly sad and frustrating is that these teachers don’t want to have to go on emergency leave. They want to keep teaching their students, even if it is digitally.

    Is going back to school one day a week for digital learning worth our children potentially losing many of their teachers? This will increase the educational deficit of students, not reduce it.

    In my humble opinion, hybrid is not a workable solution.

    45
  93. Fed Up with DeKalb

    How are teacher’s childcare arrangements any different than what working parents have had to deal with for months?!? Yes, it’s not easy but childcare can be arranged.

    I would love to see data on enrollment for DCSD when it becomes available. I know that before school started, our principal said that over 10% of our school population had moved to private or opted for homeschool. I have no doubt that the figure is at least 25-30% enrollment reduction now, if not more. I don’t know if those students are ever coming back so looks like fewer teachers will likely be needed at DCSD.

    I was a big believer in public schools but not anymore…at least not in DeKalb. I find it outrageous that our neighboring districts have F2F but it seems we’re looking at 1 or 2 days/week if we’re lucky. Virtual learning is not ‘learning’, esp. not for the younger kids. I want to know why we’re so special – what makes DeKalb so unique? Why can’t we open DeKalb schools for the families who want to be in school?

    4
  94. Cobb has only been in school 4 days and they are reporting cases at 9 schools. This means parents sent their sick children to school. This is my biggest concern. If parents could be trusted to keep sick children at home, teachers might feel a lot better. 9 different elementary school with cases in just 4 days is unsettling. If we are to truly make this work, everyone has to do their part to keep each other safe. A little care goes a long way.

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  95. DSW2Contributor

    ^^ “Yes, it’s not easy but childcare can be arranged. ”
    ——————————
    It’s the cost that is the problem.

    When their childcare costs ends up being more than their take home pay, teachers leave DCSD. This will be a real problem for teachers with 3 or more kids, especially if they were stay-at-home moms until their last kid entered kindergarten (fewer salary steps.)

    Paras absolutely cannot afford childcare on their salaries.

    21
  96. Scared and prayerful

    As I completed the survey yesterday and noted that the only concern that was given was, ” Am I coming to work or Am I not”. I am petrified. I have preexisting conditions. I have all the markers that make this disease dangerous but I also have people that depend on me and my husband financially and we have to go back to work. Terrified, scared and not able to give our best. As a long term educator, I know the importance of education but I also know the importance of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And the foundation of that is physiological followed by safety. The other areas that people are speaking of are further up the pyramid. Learning can not occur in an environment where fear reigns. You cannot learn when you are afraid or the person that is guiding you is afraid and faking it. If the basic needs are not met and we continue to focus on psychological needs such as achievement, opportunities to achieve prestige, and feeling important, or feeling as if students will lose because lack of face to face education, you don’t understand the basis of individual basic survival.
    And in times of danger and fear children need to be with their Mommy and Daddy. I want to be with my Mom and Dad right now because I am legitimately afraid. They are the source of comfort and have always decreased my fear. When this started my own children came home because they were afraid.
    When everyone on here finishes spouting their data, stats, comparison’s and reason for either side, it all comes down to protecting ourselves, our children and the children we are so fortunate to teach. Because while we argue about f2f the children are still scared and many of mine feel better being at home with their parents.
    So when all of you finish, will it be worth to say that “we” got our kids back in school during the most dangerous period in modern history , just to meet your psychological needs for friends, relationship and achievement. When many people are looking at the basics and just trying to survive.
    I have taught in area of extreme fear because of outside threats, weather, and national disasters. The only difference with this is that it has lasted too long and people have gotten bored, and the novelty is gone.
    We want to force it back to normal because we know we have no control. So we are going to pretend and cross our fingers that no child, teacher, staff member or faculty dies because of our need to force normalcy in a chaotic situation. God Help Us All!!!!

    31
  97. I’m a teacher and my kid will not be going back. It’s ludicrous for me to even consider sending my child to school once a week, then twice a week just to continue receiving virtual instruction. You all do know that f2f kids will be taught virtually, in front of a teacher, who is sitting in front of a computer, at the front of the room, also teaching virtual students? The instructional delivery is not going to change. Why? Because it’s impossible to do so with just a Chromebook. But, whatever makes you all feel like this is a win for your kids, have at it. Don’t mind me!

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  98. So the district is asking for the staff to choose between their lives and their livelihood. This was the wrong time to Return To The Building because the students are going to come back to school, go home for Thanksgiving then come back to the building then get out for Christmas then come back to the building. This will cause an increase in cases and raise COVID cases. So the majority of staff members are going out on FMLA. So let the board members, the Superintendent and the Principal return to the building and teach the students.

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