Teacher Town Hall – My Notes

Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris stated we are in unprecedented times and we are doing our best to navigate these uncharted territories.

She stated that DeKalb Schools will be guided by the science and data available to the school district. Teachers are not coming back to work on October 19. Teachers and students will return to school when the numbers allow it in accordance with the stated calculations and guidelines.

Moving forward, any questions that are not answered by the town hall, teachers should go to their principal first and regional superintendent next. Regional Superintendents are given regular COVID updates.

Human Resources Update
* Discussing COVID-19 Leave Options

Health and Wellness Update
* Discussing the protocol for reporting COVID-19 cases
* Contact tracing – done by county board of health
* Isolation Room – every school and every department will have an identified space for isolation should somebody exhibit COVID symptoms. Students will be placed in the isolation area and parents contacted. If parents cannot be contacted, the school will call 911 if need be.

Testing will be done at established sites. DeKalb Schools is working with the DeKalb Board of Health.

DeKalb Schools is working on filling nursing vacancies.

Operations
HVAC units, 7,000 of them, have been adjusted to maximize ventilation.
Implemented mandatory cleaning protocols
Each school has been given a 2-month supply of cleaning and disinfecting materials and bathroom products
Developed capacity modeling guidance and classroom layout modeling guidance in alignment with CDC and DPH
Target 12-16 students per classroom using 6ft distancing as a guideline

Information Technology
Getting employees and students a device is priority number one. The school district is looking into a device refresh.
Guest network has been added for student and guest personal devices.
Be sure to store files in the cloud, don’t click on suspicious emails and reboot your device if necessary.

Curriculum and Instruction
What does hybrid learning look like?
New phrase, “Concurrent Classroom Instruction”
Classes will be divided into half. F2f and virtual live format education will be delivered simultaneously.
There will be some growing pains – this is new
Phase III will resume a full day schedule of learning. Remote learning will be a full day just like in school. So, the bell schedule will change.

Preparing for Phase III
Figuring out the master schedule including planning periods and balanced classes.
Considering how to offer specials (art, music, PE) at the elementary schools
Figuring out what to do about teachers that share classrooms or float between classes and/or buildings
Devising staggered dismissal schedule
Creating duty rosters
Devise schedule for staggered outdoor recess
Lots of signs to indicate directional hallways or health protocol reminders

Q&A

Q: Can high risk employees continue working from home?
A: DeKalb Schools gave the same answer as the first segment

Q: Will there be penalties for deciding not to come back?
A: The school district will honor the normal exemptions.

Q: Something about sneezing protocols

Q: Where do the numbers come from?
A: All information is on the DeKalb Schools numbers. The Georgia DPH and DeKalb Board of Health calculate the data

Q: If a child tests positive for COVID, what’s the plan?
A: The DeKalb Board of Health drives the investigation. They decide who has been exposed and needs to quarantine. The distance to child and amount of time with the child drives the determination of who needs to quarantine.

Q: Students having problems with virtual learning
A: Staff is committed to working with students individually to make the learning environment as successful as possible

Q: Environment Questions – Can we open windows
A: We ask that windows are left closed to protect the HVAC units.

Q: HVAC repairs
A: Operations has been working to reduce the number of needed repairs

Q: Will students have to wear masks?
A: All students must wear masks.

Q: Will the school provide masks to students and staff?
A: Yes

Q: Parents and Visitors?
A: No parents or visitors allowed in the next phase.

Q: Supplies: Tissue paper, toilet paper, soap, etc …
A: There will be enough in each school

Q: How will social distancing be implemented?
A: All schools will have their own COVID-19 task force to consider the specifics of each school

Q: How many students and teachers will be in school during the hybrid model?
A: We expect at least 40% of the students to remain virtual.

Q: What is the plan for Wednesday.
A: It will be 100% virtual for students. Teachers will be at school.

Q: Teacher evaluations
A: TKES and LKES are governed by state law. We won’t have student growth numbers

Self assessments have been suspended. Summative measurements can not be made.

Woods said the State DOE’s motto is compassion over compliance.

Q: How will the district support MAP testing ethically.
A: Microsoft did an update allowing the teacher to see 12 students take the test at a time. MAP will not be used as the school district typically has. The current use will be to diagnose learning loss.

State standardized tests will still be required. School district is figuring out how to do that.

Q: What accommodations will be provided to teachers with children?
A: There is a provision within the COVID leave reasons, there will be eligibility for leave. Please seek other options before availing yourself of this option.

Q: Will teachers be allowed to resign without penalties?
A: Fines will not be assessed.

Q: Can we connect smart boards to our chromebooks (teachers are experiencing some sort of problem here)
A: The district is making peripherals available.

Q: Why do teachers have all these tools? Will there be a supported platform
A: The district is looking to have a supported platform and trying to decide which tools to include. The school district does allow many tools to be used even if they are not supported by the school district.

Q: Para’s – will they be given devices
A: Yes

Q: What supports are in place for teachers experiencing high anxiety?
A: The pandemic has caused anxiety for many people. School district is putting together a toolkit to help identify people experiencing anxiety. School district helping teachers provide mental health first aide.

74 responses to “Teacher Town Hall – My Notes

  1. It is so sad & devastating how DeKalb employees are being treated at this time. This school year should just be virtual and look to see students in August 2021 if COVID is gone. Stop trying to pacify these parents that want their kids out the house. Don’t ask people to choose between life and livelihood!!!!

    44
  2. Hi, Stan. Is it possible to find out if PreK students will be given a device? I thought I remember from a previous board meeting where they stated PreK students would be receiving one in September, but I haven’t heard anything since. Every other grade level had received a device. Thank you.

    5
  3. Thank you for providing this! I am so glad that our superintendent is sticking to her plan. I’m sure she receives angry emails from parents making demands on top of the billboards. None of that is moving her. She created a plan and seems to be sticking to it. I can appreciate that! I will continue giving my best to my students and when it’s time to enter the building, I will continue to give my best.

    29
  4. Central Staff Does Not Matter

    I’m happy for the Teachers and Students that get to remain Virtual. However, once again it seems that Central Office Staff does not matter. DCSD took 5 furlough days from us and as of 5 min ago, we still have to return to the office next week, unless a miracle happens. I checked the number after 3:00 PM and it is now at 101!! Someone please tell me why Central Office Staff has a different set of rules?!!? Why does the 14 day below 100 NOT apply to us? We have health issues and families too!! So, for everyone that thinks the Central Office staff has it made…we don’t. There are several “little people” at the Central Office too!! I’M SO DONE!!

    11
  5. David Felfoldi

    First, thank you for this update. I was wondering when it was going to arrive as Dekalb experienced 6 consecutive days above the 100 threshold (today included), and only a mere 3 days below 99 last week.

    This may come off as nitpicking, but I think it bears a comment. “Teachers are not coming back to work” makes it sound like you may think they haven’t been working the past few months. I think you meant to say “Teachers are not returning to work within the school building.”

    Specifically, the plan refers to it as follows:
    – Phase 1: Distance/Remote Working for Staff
    – Phase 2: Hybrid Working Environment for Staff

    30
  6. I don’t want ‘my kids out of the house’. I want them to be educated. Sadly, I don’t see education being accomplished very well in the virtual model so far. A short 15-20 minute live lesson doesn’t meet my expectations for education. If supt intends to keep kids virtual for most of the year, I will either be moving to another district with in-person option or pursuing private. I am not going to have this year be wasted and risk my kids falling behind doing virtual.

    5
  7. I doubt that Dekalb Superintendent is fit for the position. All districts around us are open safely and Dekalb is prolonging the process for indefinite amount of time. Dekalb students deserve the education all other students around us get. Keeping schools closed is a grave injustice. Teachers in Dekalb should not be treated differently than teachers in other counties which are open. Don’t come up with excuses about HVAC systems please, Dekalb had 7 MONTHS to address the issue.

    7
  8. expand the virtual day

    No surprise DeKalb is circling the drain as always. However, is there any chance that the virtual school day could be expanded? Teachers should be providing lessons from 8am-3pm daily. I’ll give them their Wed off.

    There should be a full day of classes EVERY DAY except Wed. 45 minutes at the very least of live instruction in each class. Five minutes or whatever it was when they were in person to go between classes.

    Basically like a real school day. Everyone had a chance to get used to virtual, it’s time to ramp it up. But yes teachers, you still get your Wed off, along with weekends.

    Why can’t we at least do something since DeKalb won’t educate their students in person???

    8
  9. Cherry Picking

    I’m becoming more and more disappointed at the way DCSD is handling things. Teachers were notified about the Town Hall about a week ago. I wished the flyer had been available sooner. Yesterday was the first of me seeing it after my principal distributed it to staff.

    Overall, the whole thing felt a bit staged and like they were doing it more as a formality to appease the masses. I felt some of the departments cherry picked the questions they wanted to answer and/or they just wanted to answer questions they felt needed to be addressed. I did leave with some valuable information, but I don’t think the questions they answered were reflective of the masses.

    If they wanted to gain a consensus of the questions staff members have, they should’ve opened a form and staff members could list the questions they have about each topic (family leave, Covid protocols, technology, operations, TKES, etc). That way DCSD could answer the most common questions and/or create a FAQ sheet answering these. The form could’ve been open for a day. Had I know this was how the meeting was going to be run, I would’ve submitted my questions in advance using the email on the flyer or showed up early to the chat to type questions. This is just another example where there’s zero equity in information in DCSD. Unless you or your principal has an “in” with a higher up, your school gets left out at being represented in these meetings. Apparently some of us aren’t cool enough to sit at the popular kids table. Left behind just like how some of these students without devices continue to fall further behind. And the district had the nerve to talk about tech refresh and the tech store when not all students and staff (paraprofessionals) don’t even have Chromebooks yet. Take care of your people and your people will take care of you!

    15
  10. So the blackest counties staying virtual. Color me shocked!

    Drove by a FC elementary school today, parking lot was full, kids playing outside, everyone f2f. Great to see.

    3
  11. @Fed Up It’s a shame that you are going through that. I am a teacher and I will say that at my school the students are getting a full day of learning. The teachers are going way above what is expected of them to try to meet the needs of the students and parents. Unfortunately, it seems that not all schools are having the same experience within the district, so it makes it look as if it’s not working across the district as a whole.
    @Expandthevirtualday I’m not sure when teachers get Wednesdays “off”, but I have been working everyday. I had to MAKE myself leave my laptop closed one day this past weekend because I find myself constantly doing work. I started teaching over 25 years ago, and I’m working harder now than I was getting up and going to the building every morning. Apparently some people don’t quite understand what teachers are doing if you think that we have a day off. If anything we are on seven days a week; I am still communicating with parents and students Saturdays, Sundays, late at night. To think that teachers are having time off is a major misconception. Many of us continued as we normally would working through the summer, not to mention the days and days of trainings to prepare for remote teaching; and the on-going training and studying we do. (Also note, the counties that have returned back to school are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases. A teacher friend of mine in one of those counties has just lost one teacher, and had to be tested herself this past weekend because she just found out that another teacher that she has been around just tested positive.) It is not so cut and dry. Teachers would love to be back in the classroom as well, but not if the county is not fully prepared to keep the students and staff safe.
    In April and May we were heroes, now suddenly we don’t matter and have all this time “off”. This is a tough time for us all and believe me, we as educators have the best interest of the students at heart. We do not want to see our students suffer in any way; educationally, mentally, physically, or otherwise. We want the BEST for them and in a safe environment.

    56
  12. I’m very curious about what “Demographics” meant by the Blackest counties comment… Please expound and clarify…

    17
  13. Pissed Off Teacher

    So a couple things about today…
    1. The town hall meeting-it could have been prerecorded and put out because it was a waste of time. It did not answer the most important question: What are teachers who have kids in the county suppose to do when they fully return to the class and their kids are at home?
    2. Fed Up- you may need to check your children’s school. My children are in class a full hour for each of their classes getting live instruction. They are learning.
    3. F2F- you are incorrect. Not all other counties are open with no problems. There have been cases reported in all the districts. Within being open for 5 days, Cobb had 10 cases of Covid. Please check the numbers. The districts with F2F cases have higher numbers than the ones without. Having a face to face teacher does not change what the students are learning, it changes how they are learning.
    4. Expand the virtual day, what’s funny is people who aren’t teachers always seem to think teachers don’t work or we are just chilling at home. We ARE NOT! We are doing our best to be teachers to classes of 25, teacher our own kids, and manage to grade papers, have meetings, parent conferences, professional learning, and create virtual lessons that are still relevant and rigorous.
    5. Demographics- wow, the blackest counties? Driving by a school and seeing kids playing doesn’t mean that everything is good at that school or in that county. It just means they are kids who are playing.
    As a teacher with 2 kids in school at home with me, it is difficult, but we are making it work. We aren’t just staying home because we want too, but I want what is best for my children and going 8 hours in a mask just to appease the masses is just not it. It is uncomfortable for me and I am adult so imagine the children.

    63
  14. One of the return to school metrics needs to be supply chain. We were told that each high school classroom (nothing provided for offices) will receive 250 alcohol wipes to clean the room between class changes- this is supposed to last for 2 months of school.

    There is no way those supplies last, unless we regularly return to virtual learning.

    8
  15. Can we just be clear that teachers do not “get Wednesdays off”??! My Wednesdays are FULL with one on one and small group tutorials, plus contacting parents and attending other meetings. Right now I do not ever feel totally “off” as students contact me all the time and I make myself available to jump on Teams and help them after school hours and on weekends. Parents, if you have issues with your school’s schedule or with a specific teacher, take it up with them or with your administrators. And to whoever said “I’ll give them their Wed. off” – we are not your hired help. You are not better than us. You have no idea how hard we are working. I would love to take a Wednesday off! But I would have to use a sick day to do that.

    42
  16. Color You Ignorant.

    @demographics

    ‘So the blackest counties staying virtual. Color me shocked!’

    How about color you ignorant, instead?

    Thank you for finally showing your true colors. You have sat on this forum for MONTHS spouting misinformation, magical thinking, and pushing for the district to make reckless decisions that are not driven by data and science, in a disingenuous attempt to “advocate” for minority students. If you can’t figure out WHY districts with larger minority populations have opted for virtual learning, you are TRULY out of touch. This is the VERY group that is disproportionately impacted by this virus. This is the very group that is infected with, has worse outcomes from, and dying at higher rates. These are the children that are statistically more likely to have severe illness. Minority children are the ones that make up 75% of this country’s child Covid deaths. But, what do you care? You just want you child back in a classroom by any means necessary.

    You are, indeed, a false advocate for minority students. You are a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Stop using them as a means to an end. They are not your prop. You do not get to invoke them when it is convenient for YOU. You don’t care. Stop acting like you do.

    Disgusting.

    Distasteful.

    Yuck.

    49
  17. If these f2f advocates were really concerned about underserved students instead of their own interest they’d be advocating for lower class sizes, lower caseloads for school counselors (not unusual to serve 500-1000 students) school social workers (serve 5-7 schools) and school psychologists (serve 3-4 schools). All are wildly over professional recommendations.

    Contact your state rep and state senator and ask for state minimums to be legislated.

    23
  18. Fed Up,

    What you’re describing (15 minutes of live instruction) is the standard 3-part lesson that the majority of teachers follow, and is considered best practice in the education field. Whole group instruction, where a teacher is teaching “in front” of the class is limited to 15 minutes because experts have determined that 15 minutes is the maximum amount of time you have before a student loses interest and stops paying attention. After 15 minutes, the student goes into the work period. At that point, teachers can pull small groups or help students one-on-one. The final part of the lesson is the closing, where teachers wrap up the lesson and get feedback from students. What you’re seeing is what happens in school on a daily basis. It sounds like your child’s teacher is doing exactly what the experts have said we need to do. What you’re NOT seeing is all of the fluff that takes place during the day that makes the school day last a full 8 hours. You’re not seeing transitions, bathroom breaks, recess, assemblies, announcements, lunch, trips to the library, etc. If your child needs help and their teacher is not working with them in a small group or one-on-one during the work period, maybe you should reach out to the teacher. I’m sure they’d be happy to help your child.

    36
  19. @demographics
    We are the blackest County because in the 80’s when we started moving in white folks started moving out. I wonder why? So, if you don’t like the decisions that the “blackest County” or district is making, maybe you should also consider “flying away” like so many before you have done.

    16
  20. This morning I read this article by the director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard School of Public Health (link below). It reassured me that it is possible to return to even old buildings safely. I think the key problem is that many teachers (and perhaps parents) don’t trust DCSD to have the HVAC systems working in accordance with the guidelines in this article. Is it possible to have some outside, independent expert -perhaps chosen by someone outside DCSD – inspect and test the HVAC operations in each and every building and classroom and certify which buildings/classrooms meet these air exchange standards and which do not, and then specify what would fix the problem in each one (a portable air purifier of x size)? I think an independent assessment could give everyone peace of mind. Then we need to work on buying the needed air purifiers – fundraising if needed!

    https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/10/is-the-slow-approach-to-reopening-schools-failing-kids/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Gazette%2020201015%20(1)

    9
  21. I just want to say Thank You to @Teaching for explaining those lesson plans. Seems like each year the forms are changed. I just retired June 1 ( already in process before this). So much involved to set up the lesson than just teaching! I shudder to think of this virtual teaching now (I did it in the Spring). I taught Special Education. After we closed in Macrh, each week our superviors would send an email “Forgot the previous form and begin documenting on this form. Transfer all the information.” Crazy!

    Also, Thank you @FlyAway! I graduated from Briarcliff High School ’78 (The Pond now). When I came back from college I remember friends talking about the “white flight”. The last white super was Reynolds Halford. He was the twin brother of my High School Principal! So much has changed. So I guess we do too! But we can not forget our history!

    2
  22. @Expand the Virtual Day,

    I would have no problem expanding the day.

    I do find it funny you mention our “day off” on Wednesday. Clearly you have no idea what we do. I had IEPs, 504s, TKES orientation, grade level team meeting, numerous parent/student contacts, and that left no time for needed grading and lesson planning, oh, and I tried to tune in for bits and pieces of the Town Hall Meeting. I put in way beyond the expected hours.
    (We are salary workers, though, don’t forget that.)

    8
  23. Just ain't workin'

    @Teaching -So much of what’s going on with virtual is the packaged 15 minutes you describe. There’s limited interaction at best. No one can tell me that what’s happening virtually resembles the healthy class discussions you were having in person. And these class discussions are where so many kids learn. They don’t want to ask the stupid question but maybe it’s covered in the discussions. So yes, I’m sure many of you are presenting the requisite 15 researched minutes of education. But it’s not the same.

    @ ConcernedToo – How did we go from a system where teachers were able to do their job five days a week with more student face time to a point where teachers can’t do their job with four days a week of reduced student face time?

    I don’t want child care. If someone can show me a virtual system that is going to prepare my 11th grade student for AP tests, I’ll be all over it.

    But so far all we’ve got are complaining parents and teachers, and students are getting the shaft. They are getting less face time with teachers and teachers feel overworked.

    WTF?

    9
  24. What the City of Decatur Schools have to say about HVAC. More than we’re doing, and they still decided not to open . This is on their website in their reopening manual.

    Ventilation
    Building ventilation improvements have been made district-wide. HVAC systems and building
    designs vary, so the improvements have also varied from location to location. Improvements
    include increased central ventilation capacity to process the maximum amount of fresh air
    through the system. We have scheduled the HVAC systems on at least two hours before
    building occupancy and installing Ionizers that kill viruses and bacteria. Staff should refrain from
    opening windows as this decreases the effectiveness of the building ventilation system,
    additionally opening the windows will increase uninvited humidity, allergens, and possible
    airborne viruses that are not filtered by the ionizers. We have scheduled the HVAC system to
    run and flush the air at least two hours before students arrive. Other adjustments have been
    made to keep the units running continuously during occupancy.
    The State of Georgia adopted the International Mechanical Code with amendments to design
    and install Heating and Air Conditioning units. The Code requires the use of ASHRAE Standard
    62.1, which specifies the minimum amount of Outside air is necessary for specific building
    occupancies. The amount of outdoor air Specified for school classrooms is 10 CFM per
    occupant. All heating and air units installed throughout the district meet this requirement.

    6
  25. Concerned teacher

    Outdoor classrooms:

    Stacy Stepney mentioned that teachers can utilize outdoor spaces to teach while giving students fresh air. But if the teachers are teaching concurrently with virtual students at home, is the wifi in the outdoor spaces? Even with the “learning cottages,” the wifi is spotty in the DHS picnic area. Is there wifi access the official outdoor classroom space outside the auditorium? Is there wifi access if PE teachers are out on the track or the bleachers?

    Nice theory, but I feel like that’s not going to work.

    When the HVAC stops working (which it will), are we to use fans? Our science teachers say that will just blow the virus around. They say fans should be placed facing outward in open open windows. But what if you don’t have windows that open? What if you don’t have windows **at all**?

    9
  26. So it seems probable that F2F achool will Not return in 2020. Why doesn’t someone just declare that, instead of the holding pattern of “We’re watching the numbers”? They will only go UP now, due to flu season, holidays, family gatherings….. Due to the COVID incubation period from moment of exposure, the lag time for symptoms and/or a positive test result is about 7 days. So, 7 days AFTER all holidays have ended, including New Year’s Eve, this should be the first 2021 batch of results to review. And for those who still haven’t received one, this year’s flu vaccines are NOT from China. Mine came from Germany. I asked to see the box the vial came from. No vaccines from China will be accepted in the USA, so PLEASE get your shot today! Get All of your family members vaccinated! It takes a couple of weeks for the immunity to take hold, so don’t wait. Let’s ALL do our part to keep ourselves and others as safe as possible.

    7
  27. I looked at yesterday’s numbers for cases per 100K over the last 2 weeks for Metro Atlanta counties and their current instruction format, and here is what I found:

    Dekalb- 101 Virtual
    Gwinnett- 127 F2F option
    Fulton- 135 F2F option
    Cobb- 116 F2F Hybrid limited
    Henry- 122 F2F option
    Douglas- 161 F2F option
    Coweta- 78 Hybrid limited
    Fayette- 77 Hybrid limited
    Clayton- 122 Virtual

    4
  28. David Felfoldi

    What about City of Decatur? Virtual until January.
    What about Atlanta Public Schools? Where is Rockdale, Spalding, and Newton, which are each closer to DeKalb than some of the other counties you selected to list?

    How many days are they F2F each?

    Has DeKalb ever said they would return to F2F prior to 100 per 100k across 14 days? Have they not communicated this for months now, enabling the community the option to rise up together and mitigate spread?

    Finally, why are we fighting against local govenrance by comparing DeKalb to other counties? Isn’t this a question a county has reps elected to decide upon, and no one district with a vocal minority can overspeak the preferences of the silent majority?

    It is clear by the comment likes that safety of scholars and staff is the primary concern of most of the readers; I share their concern, and by having my kids attend public school have entrusted the county to make the best decision for all stakeholders.

    8
  29. Those data points are misleading. Gwinnett’s case rate has been higher than DeKalb’s for many months, yet they’ve had F2F school option since early to mid September and cases have fallen since F2F started. Your data doesn’t tell the full story.

    To everyone who addressed the 15 minutes of instruction being sufficient, I don’t agree. My child is not challenged with 15 minute lesson + an independent work session. There is NO wrap-up at the end of each subject. I am very worried that the teachers think this is sufficient daily instruction. It does not give me a lot of confidence in the rigor or comprehensiveness of the education we’re getting. MAP results will be telling on student growth. If what some of the posters are saying, then my child should meet the growth projection under the virtual model. I sadly don’t think this will be the case for my child or most in DeKalb.

    4
  30. @David Felfoldi,

    I was actually more focused on the possibility that virtual instruction may be part of the reason why Dekalb is lower than the other nearby counties who have chosen to go back to F2F. Looking at the actual charts, some of the referenced counties even had a slight bump up in cases around the time of return to F2F. Can I say for certain that was a cause? no, but neither can one say that it wasn’t.

    My opinion, if anyone wants it (ha), is that if what we are currently doing is placing us at the lower end of the counties with cases, then why change what we are doing?

    The counties I listed were more typical metro Atlanta schools. I can list the others if you want, but I was just giving a selection of a few that Dekalb is often lumped together with in discussions.

    8
  31. Vanessa Thompson

    I appreciate our Superintendent devising a beautiful plan.
    But there is an unfortunate glitch: Never being sure of what the next two weeks will look like is very unnerving for teachers. It’s a rollercoaster!
    I’m thinking DCSD may need to look at City of Decatur. With holidays in Nov and Dec., you’re really only looking at 8 weeks.

    18
  32. Only 8 weeks???

    @ Vanessa Thompson –

    You’re really only looking at my child getting a reduced education for HALF the year.

    How can you be okay with that?

    5
  33. @color you ignorant
    My statements have never changed. The schools that had f2f parental option in the beginning were not predominantly minority counties. Then all went virtual. Now f2f is back except in those same predominantly minority counties, dekalb, Rockdale and Clayton- I’m sure I’m missing one.

    Color does not determine who tests positive for the virus. Actions and choices do.

    You’ll only fall further behind. And we all know that.

    4
  34. David Felfoldi

    ConcerenedToo (why don’t people use their names in this public forum?) I see your point now. It’s an interesting theory, and one I wish were true, but if we are wondering what the impact of F2F is having on our scholars health, we have county-specific case school surveillance data by age groups available for public dissection. https://dph.georgia.gov/school-aged-covid-19-surveillance-data

    In the 5-17 age category only Fulton and Clayton are increasing, while Dekalb is unchanging, and the rest of the counties are decreasing in the last 2 weeks (as of the most recent 10/8 report). So, this data doesn’t seem to indicate any causation, and if we were to do some correlational statistics, I’m not sure we would find a strong one that opening/not opening is having the impact you hypothesize.

    The point, for me, isn’t to compare Dekalb other counties, as not only is each county different — wealth, race, density, mandates — but each county has its own elected school board to represent the population. What Fulton does has no bearing on what Dekalb does, and that’s for a good reason, IMO.

    If a resident has repeated issues and concerns with a county school system, they have options they can choose without directly effecting others with their preference — switch to a private school, home school, or move to a county that better reflects this concerns. I get that it is far easier to have the majority of households in a county change to support one’s preference for F2F, but this isn’t about doing what is easiest for a few. This is about letting each county represent what the majority of stakeholders are demanding.

    7
  35. A brief digression- why are we using the term “scholars” to describe students/pupils/kids/whatever? Geez.

    3
  36. It seems like it started getting popular in 2015 or so and is now a buzzword. You don’t really care about students if you don’t refer to them as “scholars”.

    8
  37. Doh! I’m a failure! I don’t respect the little rats!

    1
  38. Legit Question

    Stan,

    Teachers have been trying to get a response to this question (including submitting it prior to the Town Hall) and we have heard no answers. What happens when our colleagues don’t return due to fears over COVID? At my school, at least 20 people indicated that they did not plan on returning if we went back on the 19th. I understand that class balancing may work in lower grades, but in high school, teachers specialize in content and balancing classes doesn’t work. We’ve already been asked to cover for people who have left and to give up our planning period (and told that we don’t support children if we won’t take on additional classes). It’s only going to get worse when we get back into the building. Does the district have a plan for substitutes or filling vacancies for individuals who go on FMLA, get sick, or decide to resign….or will it fall on teachers once again to make up for the lack of a district solution?

    14
  39. @Legit Question. Good question. What does your principal say is the plan? If you don’t get an answer, CC me … I suspect you’ll get an answer.

  40. DSW2Contributor

    APS delays work return for central office staffers:
    https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/atlanta-school-district-delays-work-return-for-central-office-staffers/XIC6UVL4NFECLHTWJGJ34QHSRY/

    Tomorrow, Friday October 16, is when APS is expected to announce if they will reopen school buildings later this month or to continue with only virtual learning.

  41. DSW2Contributor

    APS made parents complete an “Intent to Return Declaration” form — someone posted the results of that survey here:
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EkYkdbUXYAAsVwk?format=jpg
    Battle, Brown, Massey, Sims and Usher are the APS Regional Superintendents…. the rest of the names on that graphic are the individual APS schools.

    In white Buckhead, only 42% of the children will be coming back to in-person classes. The other, non-white areas of the City were much lower — only 19% to 28% of children in those regions would be coming back to in-person classes.

    5
  42. Teacher Teacher

    DCSD serves almost 3,000 PK students. Parents and teachers have heard NOTHING about how hybrid plans will affect our babies. This is completely unacceptable. Plans SHOULD have already been in place. The powers that be had 9 weeks (plus all summer) to create a plan and share it with us. Can you please dig around and get us some information? Pretty please???

    4
  43. dekalbteacher

    The September financial report shows a $45,763 vehicle purchase for our new superintendent.

    Some things will never change in this school district.

    15
  44. Mr. Jester:
    Thank you for allowing employees and other stakeholders of DSCD to share their thoughts about issues that matter to them. I wanted to bring something to your attention. Many 10 month employees reported to work on July 20 based on the 2020-2021 calendar. On July 24th, the Board approved a revised calendar. At that point we had worked 5 days. Later we were informed that we would receive 5 comp days. That was okay with me. In late September the principals and bookkeepers were notified that the employees that worked the week of July 20th would receive monetary compensation in lieu of days and the payment would be reflected on the October 15th paycheck. On October 15th, I was notified that due to the large number of affected employee, we would get comp days.
    I am very disappointed in the decision. We all have to work together through this time. Comp days mean nothing because the workload will still be there when we return from taking those days. In these times, the money matters more.
    Please check into this and see if we can get more clarification.

    8
  45. Common Sense Isn't

    @DSW2Contributor

    If you want to dig deeper, “White Buckhead” as you’ve described it are Brandon and Jackson elementary schools. Those schools each chose 75/76% return to F2F. Both schools have ~65% white students, 35% non-white.

    “White Candler Park/VaHi” are Lin and Springdale Park. Those schools chose 26/36% return to F2F. Both schools are ~70% white, 30% non-white. (note: whiter than Buckhead)

    Candler Park/Virginia Highlands tend to be rich liberals. (Decatur in Atlanta) Buckhead tend to be rich conservatives. (Romney types, not Trumpers)

    That intent to return is a perfect example of why “follow the science” should be amended to “follow the political science”. Just sucks kids are caught in the crossfire.

    3
  46. close till 2021-22

    case count up to 107….

    8
  47. DSW2Contributor

    APS just announced they’re staying virtual until January.

    11
  48. Atlanta Delays Reopening
    https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/atlanta-districts-decision-on-reopening-classrooms-expected-today/AEG7ZFR4Q5CI5JGQN5JWFMJ6ME/

    ‘Given this current information and careful consideration, we will continue with the current virtual model until at least January 2021…” (partial quote from article)

    8
  49. Aren’t the %s at the top the high schools. North Atlanta parents are more comfortable sending elementary students than high school students. That seems correct to me. These numbers don’t have a chance to go up until probably late End of February. Need a couple of months of Joe and warmer weather.

    2
  50. @Dekalb teacher – totally agree…some things will never change.
    @Stan – what happened to Dr. Green’s car and Ramona’s car? Can’t CWH use those?

    5
  51. Logic over Politics

    Logic dictates that Dekalb rescind directive having teachers return to school to do Virtual teaching. What does that accomplish besides subjecting teachers to a greater probability of developing Covid? Would it not be in the best interest of teachers to maintain their safety by allowing them to remain in their homes doing Virtual classes? What advantage does having them in school provide? Zippo.
    We are entering , what will probably be, the worst period of infections nationally. Combine that with seasonal factors of the flu season, it is farcical to even considering returning to classroom. APS and Decatur City Schools have seen the light.

    10
  52. DSW2Contributor

    ^ @Logic, in the “Football Spectators – Billboards – Teacher Town Hall” thread, Stan confirmed that teachers are NOT returning to school buildings:
    http://factchecker.stanjester.com/2020/10/11937/#comment-42018
    As far as I know, there is no *district-wide* directive requiring teachers to return to school to do virtual teaching….. so if a teacher is being required to return to their building now then their return is probably part of a performance improvement plan the teacher has been placed on.

    Stan and the board have a series of meetings on Monday — there is a work session at 2, a community input meeting at 5:45 and a business meeting at 7. I expect Mrs. Watson-Harris will announce during the meetings that virtual learning will continue until at least January, just as APS and Decatur are doing.

    3
  53. Logic over Politics

    His post simply said not returning on Monday the 29th. I think I read under teacher notes on town hall, someone asked about Wednesday of next week and the answer was yes, return on Wednesday.

  54. Teachers aren’t returning on Wed. Once we have been under 100 for 14 days, we will receive a 2 week notice about returning to work. If during those 2 weeks the numbers go above 100, everything resets as it did last week. We were supposed to return this week, but numbers increased. We have not been given a date from the superintendent because everything is based on fluctuating numbers. I understand that this can be frustrating because parents get ready for their children to return and then boom, numbers increase and the timeline starts all the way over.

    1
  55. Tongue in cheek | October 11, 2020 at 3:48 PM |
    105 and rising… based on the trend that is going on nationally, I expect this number to be in the 110-115 soon.

    113 today…

    4
  56. DSW2Contributor

    ^^ Everyone, realize that there are only eight (8) school weeks left during the 2020 *calendar* year and then think about the scheduling implications of @Hmmmmm’s post.

    If and when the 2-week average infection rate were to drop below 100, another four weeks has to pass before we can go back to in-person schools: first the 2-week average infection rate has to remain under 100 for two weeks, then two weeks notice has to be given to teachers….. so even if the 2-week average infection rate were to miraculously drop to below 100 tomorrow, we are guaranteed to have at least four more weeks of virtual learning

    Now look at the calendar: Suppose the infection rate miraculously drops below 100 by next Sunday, October 25 — if that happens, then the earliest we could go back would be on November 30.

    9
  57. This is why I believe APS isn’t thinking about returning until at least Jan. By the time numbers get to a steady place, the semester will probably be just about over. Unfortunately after all the holiday travel, I don’t know if the numbers will be where they need to be for us to return AND stay in a hybrid model.

    4
  58. @Stan why is the Communications department asking for an additional $25,000 a month for a PR firm? It seems like that’s throwing good money away in a tight budget year…

    8
  59. Virtual is Virtuous

    Cases per 100,000 today is 117!!

    9
  60. @PR nightmare. When HVACs aren’t working and we are furloughing teachers, I can’t justify spending $300K on marketing. –Stan

    8
  61. I don’t see how the students in DeKalb Schools ever go back to F2F instruction until the formula for going back to school in person changes or a vaccine for COVID-19 comes out. There were a handful of days below 100, but it will take 5 consecutive weeks of every day below 100 before kids see a classroom. We should get the results of the MAP testing shortly and we’ll find out how effective 100% virtually learning has been.

    2
  62. Expand the Day

    It’s past time to expand the virtual day to resemble a real day. Everyone is used to virtual. Teachers should be up to speed. Time to go four days a week, 45 minutes per class at a MINIMUM.

    Stan – are you going to stand up at the board meeting and demand change – either a change to the formula or more time spent virtually?

    And just curious – why is Virtual is Virtuous excited that more people are getting Covid? What a sick mind.

    6
  63. Stan, I agree totally that spending $300K on marketing is a bad idea. I hope the BOE votes no on this.

    This is a belt-tightening time, not a time for frivolous spending. I don’t see any reasonable benefit. Sure, I enjoy seeing photos of the Superintendent with a mariachi band as much as the next guy, but is that really how she should be spending her time? How does that address what teachers and families need to know?

    Results of the survey haven’t been made public.

    From what I’ve read, the Teacher Town Hall format was prioritized for the Administration, not teachers. And it sounds like they still don’t know what a hybrid day would look like.

    It this is part of a “marketing plan” then I don’t think it is working, or at least it’s not working for teachers and families.

    3
  64. @Stan – how many people does DCSD have on the payroll currently for communications? What is their total annual salary? It seems the admin. has needed PR/communications from outside firms for years upon years. What is going on inhouse that they can’t handle this effort? I agree this is not a high priority with all the other current needs/cuts. Thank you for speaking up.

    2
  65. Hi Stan,

    So that the public can view the BOE Meetings, can they be easier to locate? When there is a BOE Meeting in Clayton, you only have to do ‘one click” to get to it. You can go to the meeting directly from the website.
    Could DeKalb do something like that?

    4
  66. @joy, Good point. I don’t see an obvious link to the board meeting. I’ll talk to somebody about making it easier to find.

    @AB, The org chart would have the latest info on how many staff are where. I don’t know about the communications department.

  67. So … The 2 week average number is to remain under 100 for a 14 calendar day window before staff is given a two week notice to move to phase 2? Just want to confirm. They love to “play” with words.

  68. @Think. That’s what they said. Even if they massage the number of days below 100 and the number of days notice, I don’t see how we go back to school in the near future without an effective vaccine.

    2
  69. Then you better fight like hell to get it changed to 125/100k like FCS. Kids not going back until a vaccine?

    So we’re going to be out of school until fall 2021. Fight like hell Stan to get kids back into school. Why does your wife even want to stay a commissioner for this county?

    1
  70. Easy to be brave behind computet

    Why don’t all of you calling for return to face to face in midst of a third wave up, volunteer to take the place of those with pre-conditions. We’ll see how brave and anxious to return to face to face Covid exposure you really are!!!

    2
  71. Where are you?

    @Easy to be brave –

    I’ve volunteered hundreds of hours in schools. Open them up and I’m there. Ready to roll up my sleeves and get these kids an education. Where the ^&*( are you?

    1
  72. This was in the BOE Agenda. I think it is the request to expand the PR Department

    12. Expand The Creative Group Temp Services (Public Relations and Marketing Support)

    “The Communications Department experienced a major transition in 2018-2019. The
    Communications team started with a team of 9 in 2018 and by January 2019, there were
    only 4 employees left in the department to handle media relations/PR, marketing, and online
    content (digital marketing). As a result, the Interim Director of Communications sought highly
    qualified professionals to fill in the gaps. A district of this size needs a strong team to support
    the district and schoolhouses with PR, marketing, design and video. This recommendation for
    board approval insures the District’s use of The Creative Group’s services through the
    duration of the school year”.
    Implementation Date(s)
    November 1, 2020
    AdvancED Standards
    Standard 4: Resources and Support Systems

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