Teachers and Students Are Coming Back To School

Community spread appears to no longer be a factor in the schedule for opening schools in DeKalb. DeKalb schools administration is moving forward with getting teachers and students back into school.

Message From DeKalb Schools Administration

Although the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing, DCSD’s leadership, with guidance from the COVID-19 Task Force, CDC, and DeKalb County Board of Health, agrees that we must be vigilant and focus on the mitigation strategies to reduce transmission and prepare for re-opening schools in January 2021. The District will proceed with high quality instruction in a concurrent learning environment. The concurrent learning environment will support students based on their families’ choice to either attend school in-person or continue with distance/remote learning.

Key Dates

Cohorts
Your school is organizing classes into two cohorts based on last name to adhere to social/physical distancing requirements and safety guidance. Your school will provide your child’s cohort assignment if you have chosen for your child to return for in person learning. If you did not complete the Intent to Return form, your child is being programmed as an in-person learner. However, parents may contact the local school by January 8, 2021 if you want to change your preference. School leaders will collaborate with families to align the schedules of siblings. In the hybrid learning model, Wednesdays will be reserved for small group instruction, tutoring, appointments for student conferencing, parent conferencing, services, professional learning, and instructional planning.

Re-Opening Schedule – January and February


614 responses to “Teachers and Students Are Coming Back To School

  1. dekalbHSteacher

    @ Ben Greenwald

    The email we just got confirms some things I was thinking about this (and as a teacher and parent of, I get two of these emails every time:))

    You don’t have to even read between the lines to see that the emphasis is on other major metro districts opening, especially in Northeast. I’ve been assuming our super is in regular contact with folks in NYC, where I have friends and family who have been teaching in person. Same thing in Boston. Whether it’s fair to compare DeKalb with those systems and their decisions is another matter.

    And this may sound hopelessly naive (even after over 20 years teaching in DeKalb!), but there’s a part of me that believes Mrs. Watson-Harris is dismayed by how far behind our students are falling, especially ESL and other vulnerable populations.

    2
  2. dekalbHSteacher—the latest email again went directly to my junk folder. I hope they can fix that soon.

  3. Resignation Questions

    Hi Stan,

    Yes, salary is important. I’d like to be able to increase my salary without having to pay thousands of dollars for another degree, as that’s the only way to truly increase your salary as a teacher. Breaks are nice, but I can do without those. I usually work through my breaks as a teacher so the only difference would be going into an office rather than doing it from home. Teleworking is extremely important. My friends who work in the private sector have already been told that they’re working from home indefinitely. They all make more than I do as a teacher, and they either have no degree or a Bachelor’s. I’ll be okay with taking a lower salary for now. Less stress, more respect, and less BS will be worth it.

    16
  4. @dekalbHSteacher – what makes you say that? Was there a general sense that virtual school could teach at the same level as in-person? I just can’t understand why anyone, particularly those in education, would assume that kids would not fall behind. While I’m sure there are some who are doing just fine I don’t think that is the case for the majority.

    And @yes – I understand your frustration (I’m not a teacher but understand how it feels to be done with a job/industry) but please know that not all parents think or use teachers as pawns. For what it’s worth, I’m incredibly saddened by this awful roll out by DeKalb County. It’s unacceptable that an employer of more than 15,000 people doesn’t have the necessarily skill set to properly communicate something as critical as this.

    11
  5. Hello @Resignation Question. Understood. Is a pension important? The school district could pay teachers 40% more if they didn’t have to pay for the pension. I’ve never had a job where I get Summer Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring Break off. Those breaks alone add up to 3 months. So, you’ll be working at least 3 months more a year and making less money and no pension.

    I definitely get the lure of ditching all the BS.

    3
  6. I’m leaving for higher pay, better working conditions, and respect. Students are allowed to yell at me, hit me, swear at me and parents are allowed to yell at me and threaten me as well. I am told the students and parents are our customers and I need to provide them with good customer service. I don’t get paid enough for this. If I chose to work with mental health patients, then I would accept this, but I didn’t get a college degree to work in these conditions. Add the furlough days, no raise, and now Dekalb is telling me to go into a building where I might die from a communicable disease. I’m actually asking myself how I’ve survived teaching these past years.

    24
  7. Resignation Questions

    Stan,

    I’d have to work another 25 years before I saw those benefits. There’s no way I’m staying in this profession for another 25 years. I’ve worked summers and holidays before. Teachers need those breaks because of the stressful nature of this job. I think all college curriculum should include 1-2 semesters of working in a school. If people really got a chance to see what teachers deal with, I’m sure some things would change. I know that I will always have the utmost respect for teachers after this experience.

    14
  8. @dekalb parent – which school (or cluster) had a heads up? Everyone I’ve spoken to felt blindsided.

    10
  9. Vanessa Thompson

    I’m still waiting on an answer as to why potential gifted students were transported and tested in the school buildings, but potential special education students have not been?

    6
  10. Oh and add in that students throw desks and chairs at teachers and other students too and when we push the panic button, no one comes. They fight each other too. Do we stop the fight and get hurt? We don’t even know what to do. Try *teaching* in those conditions. It’s becoming the norm in schools. No discipline, parents against medication. Teaching in general is a mess now. How do you fix it? I don’t know but I gave years of my life and I can’t anymore.

    16
  11. @ Stan Jester

    30 years of this for a shite pension? If you get it, or settle after 10 years for a portion. Pass

    40% more if they didn’t have to pay for the pension. Where did you get that number?

    I’ve never had a job where I get Summer Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring Break off. Those breaks alone add up to 3 months.

    It’s not time off, its furlough.

    No paid holidays. The contract is 185 days, with the breaks. that’s how the state and district wants it.
    Teachers are paid daily rate.

    Your asking people to teach for 12 months at this yearly rate. PASS

    What would you do? As if teachers come from no other possible background than barista.

    How about becoming a school board member; what do you get?

    So, you’ll be working at least 3 months more a year and making less money and no pension.

    Look around, lot of money out there, actual paid days off, vacation paid, investments, 504…

    Teachers, don’t sell yourself short, there are al lot of idiots making great money for far less effort.

    Districts are willing to fill positions with aids, college students, HS diploma a minimum requirement, GED okay.

    That is how teachers are valued; just as Mr. Jester implied. What else yawl gonna do?

    Mabey your right; send another survey to parents, then let the GED’s have it.

    I’m out

    16
  12. @Yes. I’m sorry to hear that you are considering leaving, but I understand. What kind of profession are you looking at getting in to?

    1
  13. @Resignation Questions. Pension … understood. Given the stressful nature of teaching, I’m glad teachers have the time off to decompress, granted I know many teachers choose to spend that time doing professional development.

    2
  14. Henri P de Vastey

    Everyone should know that Georgia’s classroom teachers receive compensation for only 190 workdays out of the 365 days of the year. This year compensation in DCSD was diminished to 185 days, a still open wound.

    To be clear, DCSD’s classroom teachers, justly, do not receive compensation for the other 175 days which include Summer, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring breaks.

    Sadly, too many teachers and parents are encouraged to believe because of statements like “…I’ve never had a job where I get Summer Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring Break off” that teachers receive “free” or “unearned” salary during the “breaks”. Teachers do not get paid vacation. Leadership should not suggest otherwise unless it intends to denigrate teachers. Instead, leadership should explain that the compensation for the 185 days is divided into 24 payments issued out every 2 weeks.

    The Teacher Retirement System in Georgia is fueled by contributions from teachers, their respective public school system, and the state of Georgia. Generally, the employee contributes around 6 % of salary and DCSD contributes around 21 % of employee salary.

    When authoritative statements such as “…the school district could pay teachers 40% more if they didn’t have to pay for the pension…” are brandied about one has wonder if there is a covert campaign to portray teachers as greedy and parasitic employees. Perhaps, the missing 19% of the suggested 40%-more is Medicare, subsidies for health and dental insurances, which are normal for employers to provide in most professions.

    Most retiring teachers will not get big-money pensions. The average annual pension for a recent teacher retiree in the Teacher Retirement System is about $35,000. The formula is a percentage (number of teaching years times 2) of their highest 2 years of paid employment. Of course, by this formula, the pension of superintendents, regional superintendents may be exponentially and deservingly higher because they are much more educated, much wiser, and much more important to students’ success than DCSD’s classroom teachers.

    20
  15. Hello @Sterling. If teachers would like to trade their pension for money up front, that could be done through the state legislature. There would be a number of issues that would have to be dealt with starting with districts that don’t pay into social security.

    40% … Given that a teacher making 70K, the school district pays roughly 30K into the pension. I’m not at my computer and don’t have the exact numbers in front of me. If there was no pension, that money could go to the teacher.

    Washington DC tried to make this move at one time. The goal was to pay all teachers over 100K.

    Teachers make an annual income. How many days a year do you think most people work for that annual income (roughly).

    As you know, I didn’t become a teacher, hence all the probing questions. School Board member in DeKalb makes about $24K.

    I suspect you’re not the only person looking around. You mentioned a lot of money being made by idiots. Where would you recommend teachers look for great money? Do you have some examples of the types of jobs that you’re suggesting is out there. I really would like to be helpful and give everyone their options.

    3
  16. caughtcovidfromschool

    hot off the press…my husband, myself, and my two kids caught covid….Guess where we caught it from??? He has to go into school everyday….We are virtual…My husband passed it on to us… now I have to go back into the school to teach on 1/4. It’s real!!! I am a healthy person and so are my kids and I am dealing with major symptoms

    15
  17. Henri P de Vastey

    “…40% … Given that a teacher making 70K, the school district pays roughly 30K into the pension. I’m not at my computer and don’t have the exact numbers in front of me. If there was no pension, that money could go to the teacher…”

    There is a big trust issue here.

    Not many will take you or DCSD on your generous offer as many remember vividly and painfully DCSD’s decision to default in 2009 on its obligation pay 6% of teacher’s salary into a Tax Sheltered Annuity (private pension plan) in lieu of paying 6% of teacher’s salary into social security.

    In 2020-2021, innocent teachers are saddled with 1 furlough day and 4 salary reduction days ( a term of art that takes away 5 days of salary from teachers) to pay this year’s $27.7 million to settle the resulting lawsuit filed in 2011.

    Now, DCSD teachers neither have the 6% invested in the TSA nor in Social Security while DCSD gets to keep the 6% for itself.

    28
  18. waitingforgodot

    Caughtcovid,

    I hope you and your family are ok and recover quickly. I don’t want to think about the number of people in this situation in January and February.

    My healthy teenage nephew spent the night in the emergency room with an unusual Covid symptom. Unfortunately, ignorance and impatience are powerful forces. As long as they don’t see Covid first-hand, proponents of in-person work and schooling, no matter the circumstance and lack of information, are intractable.

    11
  19. waitingforgodot

    Did anyone else read newsletter #19 and wonder?

    Instead of actual information and details about Dekalb’s opening, we were given links to out-of-date articles about other teachers and schools that validate employees’ concerns.

    The November Edutopia article is a high school teacher’s first-hand account of teaching virtually and then in-person and then back to virtual because of rising cases. This teacher also says her school will remain virtual in the beginning of January.

    The October Washington Post article lists school districts that went back . It doesn’t tell us how. It does talk about trends. What’s the one trend people are paying attention to now? Rising Covid cases shutting down in-person teaching. I guess we’ll read about that in Newsletter #32 in March when it links an AJC article about private schools and Cobb County going virtual in December or the November story about Fulton shutting down schools in November. Fulton has a closure matrix. Does Dekalb have anything that tells people what happens when that supposed contact tracing reveals a certain number of cases at a school?

    The Penn medicine blog lists three mitigation strategies. The first is organizing in-person teaching only when the virus is under control. It’s not. Ask London. Or the countries on travel lockdown. Or the State Department since it has gone back to Phase 1 safety, the most serious of limitations so far. Dekalb’s CDC, Public Health, and other doctor collaborators might have much to say about Covid control right now.

    I’m beginning to see why some people are actually excited about going back to school during a pandemic. The district has succeeding in feeding this illusion of life as normal. We cannot access any videos of pandemic- arranged classrooms in actual Dekalb schools or diagrams of travel within actual Dekalb schools or a video of Dekalb’s instructional staff modelling this concurrent teaching with real elementary, middle, and high schools students, so people have no idea what they’re agreeing to send their children to . The district has not offered any of that public health advice and information gotten, so parents understand what 10%+ positivity rates mean for transmission and contract tracing in the Dekalb classrooms that won’t offer six-feet distance nor be limited to an actual number of students. I wish I could have the information given to or the blind optimism of the parent convinced their school and teachers are ready for this.

    23
  20. HenriPdeVasstey: THANK YOU!!!!!! Truth and wise words. People need to understand the realities behind this “cushy” and “extremely generous” teaching profession. We are only paid for the days we work, NOT for ANY VACATION. Also, we contribute as well to our pension, to our health insurance. We have been furloughed, denied salary increases, step increases, and had money taken from us that was duly ours (recent settlement which is a fraction of what we would have today if it had been put into an account at the proper time; to pay for this they robbed Peter to pay Paul this year). No wonder 50% of teachers leave within their first 5 years of teaching…..

    @caughtcovidfromschool: I am so very sorry that this happened. I hope that you and your loved ones will be alright. This is exactly why we are all concerned. As waitingforgodot states, children can have severe symptoms. I also hope that your teenage nephew will be ok.

    I do not understand why anyone thinks it is safe to return to school, and I also do not understand why anyone would want to play Russian roulette with their child. We could have returned safely to school, but that would have required a well thought out plan, which does not exist today.

    23
  21. CWH has no plan

    Parents are in for a rude awakening when they return to schools. Despite the assurances from the cheerleader, there is no plan. I feel bad for all school level staff having to figure this out with no support from higher up the chain of command.

    Principals aren’t given information, and area superintendents give non answers. What are local schools supposed to do.

    18
  22. So Henri P de Vastey is Fox Mulder here 🙂
    OK. I pulled these from the Fy2020 detailed budget and left the teacher names out. Benefits are mostly pension. Raising salaries 40% without a pension is a bit of a stretch, nevertheless … here are the numbers

    Salary – Benefits – Teacher
    73,107 – 28,732 – Teacher, Biology High School
    70,047 – 28,004 – Teacher, Biology High School
    72,198 – 28,516 – Teacher, Chemistry High School
    73,107 – 28,732 – Teacher, Drama High School

    Just want you to be aware of the value of your pension and breaks. The average worker in the United States has 260 work days a year.

    5
  23. @Teacher123, Please don’t read into the numbers and questions. I don’t think anybody would accuse teachers of having a cushy or extremely generous job. I am very grateful and appreciative for the work teachers do. A number of teachers have expressed that they would like to do something else. I’m just curious what they have in mind and why.

    3
  24. Despite approval received last week, after waiting 3 months for my Unemployment Claim to be “processed”, I received notice in my mail today that I am NOT eligible for Unemployment, since I have the “reasonable assurance of work when the employer (school) reopens.” I just filed an Appeal. I have NOTHING to show for my back-breaking efforts to collect Unemployment Insurance, and the school system won’t let me work! They just communicated with Subs that even if hybrid school starts back up, the Substitutes will NOT be trained on the virtual software, so there is STILL going to be Zero work for most Subs, unless they are a retired certified teacher. Most subs aren’t, although we all must have a Bachelor’s Degree (in any field).

    To teachers who think their income opportunities will be Many if you resign, it isn’t true. I had 30 years of solid, stable experience as an HR Professional until I needed to quit my very long-term employer to care for my elderly, disabled, Veteran father. When I lost him, I became a Substitute Teacher, part-time, while trying to replicate my previous good job. It hasn’t happened. It’s been 2 years. People see my resume, “guess” my age, and move on to younger candidates. I continue trying, but there are SO many people unemployed now that the competition for any job is incredible. 30 years of stable work experience, degree, great references… none of this has mattered. Even HR with the Dekalb County School District rejected me after applying for an opening for the EXACT job I held in the private sector! The email from DCSD said they were “seeking a more qualified candidate.” They would have needed to recruit a nursing home resident to find someone “more qualified”. I applied for another DCSD HR role, perfect fit, but never received a response. I was (and still am?) a current DCSD employee as a Sub Teacher. It didn’t matter.

    Now, without income from the Substitute Teacher job that I loved, I am on food assistance, a gov’t healthcare plan, a maxed out credit card, and no “bites” on all of my job applications. I never saw all of this coming for my life.

    Teachers, please be careful about a decision to resign. I resigned to be a full-time Caregiver for my daddy, and I will NEVER regret my decision. I just need a lucky break now, and I need God to Show Up and Show Out. My faith is still strong, but “hope” is Not a strategy. Bless you ALL. I miss my teachers and my children, who brought me laughter and joy, and what I miss the most….Hugs.

    9
  25. Henri de Vastey

    Stan,

    Teachers’ arms are too short to box with a schoolboard member, but your responses are much appreciated.

    Yes, the average person works 260 days while the average Georgia teacher works 190 days. The teacher pay is scaled to 190 days-not a penny more.

    One cannot hold teachers’ work schedule against them anymore than one can hold living in foreign countries against a United Nations employee, right?

    Yes, insurance costs for public school districts may be higher than for private sector employers.

    The numbers you provide are very intriguing.

    Let’s take the $28 732 on top of a salary of $73 107 in one of your examples.

    A teacher with a $73 107 salary could kick in as much as $ 18 000 per year through withholdings-excluding taxes and social security. If you add to that $28 732 from DCSD you offer, that is a fortune of over $46 000.

    Can that be right? Are you sure the $ 28 732 attaches to every single employee earning $73 107 in salary?

    Or does your $ 28 732 already include the “portion, premiums, ..etc..” collected monthly from the teacher’s wages and the “prospective” interest the Teacher Retirement System has accrued on behalf of the teacher.

    In the 1990’s, each employee used to receive a very elegant prospectus listing the district contributions and “prospective” benefits. Is that what you are talking about.

    Not sure of the accuracy of the content.

    12
  26. I am still waiting for the “creative solutions” for teachers who are not comfortable with going back during the peak of the pandemic. They mentioned that there will be options for these teachers. Oh wait, another lie, so surprising. The fact is, there are no solutions , nobody will answer my emails on this even though it was repeated several times during the townhall. In the AJC article, the superintendent even said that teachers will have options, “compassion over compliance”. Can you say lip service? To top everything else off, it sounds like our wonderful and caring superintendent is going forward with the plan, oh except for the part about >10% positivity rate. That’s scrapped too. I’ve been with the county since 2002 and every time we get screwed, I think it can’t get worse. Boy, was I wrong. If I were in charge, I’d kick our “number one cheerleader” off the squad.

    26
  27. Alison
    Is there a principal that you could contact who may be willing to speak to HR on your behalf? Perhaps at a school where you have previously subbed. Even when there was no pandemic, there were teachers that had to be out 2nd semester due to illnesses like the cold and flu. We are heading into flu season.
    There is a lady who has been subbing in Fulton most of the school year. She is teaching both F2F and virtual because there are classes that are set up that way. This is her first year doing it.
    DeKalb is going to need subs. If we are honest, we probably all know teachers that are not going to return. Teachers should not be expected to teach their classes and then act as a sub during their planning period.

    5
  28. I'm just saying.

    1962 American lives lost to Covid-19 yesterday. I’m just saying.

    5
  29. Well, well, well, now there’s a new mutant strain of the virus that attacks children. Who didn’t see this coming. Britain is shutting down again because of it. So what are you elite people who are in charge of the school systems going to do now? Fauchi said it’s probably already in our country. We don’t know if the vaccine is affective against it. Oh, did I mention it’s 70% more contagious than the virus spreading around our community right now? Looks like you chose the perfect time to open schools. Wow, you in charge of are making such good decisions, I’m sure you will be remembered for your wisdom.

    25
  30. Stan,

    Thanks for all you do.
    Is there any word on the step increase teachers will receive in January? Will it be a full step or a half step? Will we receive notification of our new salaries?

    Thanks, Stan. I appreciate all you have done and do.

    5
  31. Resignation Questions

    Alison Mercer,

    Since you love this profession, go back to school and get your certification. Plenty of people come into this profession as a second career. If you already have a degree, there are Master’s degree programs that you can complete in 2-3 years that will allow you to obtain your teaching certification and M.Ed.. My certification cost me a lot of time and money. I will keep up with it despite leaving the profession in the off chance that I choose to come back in 10-15 years.

    3
  32. waitingforgodot

    Stan,

    Can you let us know the district’s plan for the overpopulated high schools with 5oo to 700 more potential Covid-carrying teenagers and another 30 to 80 more potential Covid-affected staff than the classrooms and buildings were built for?

    40% to 50% of 500 to 800 additional people sounds like a Covid mitigation oxymoron.

    13
  33. I’m just an ignorant taxpayer and some comments on this blog have me bewildered. I read “teacher pay is scaled to 190 days-not a penny more” and then calculated a scale factor (190/260) of 73.08% from which I inferred that the $73107 salary would actually pay out $53424.35. Is this lower number what would show up on the W-2 form?

    In my experience “benefits” is a flexible term. As an employer it includes employer-paid taxes (FICA + M/C, occupational tax, etc.) which employees rarely see and aren’t reported on W-2 forms. Are these burdens, except FICA of course, included in the $28732 listed as benefits or does “benefits” mean life/health premiums, retirement and other costs that most employees think of as benefits? Is it a little or a lot of both? Is there any shared burden like an employee contribution to a 401K (as an example only) or (partial) insurance premiums?

    So for me, discussions here have raised these questions:

    1) does a teacher with a nominal salary of $70K really receive only about $50K?
    2) what *exactly* is included in benefits and what if any are the employee contributions?

    5
  34. The benefits are a moot point. You have to teach in a Georgia public school for 10 years to begin to get any retirement/benefits. You don’t get social security. After 5 years, you realize Georgia schools are a disaster and you now have to choose your sanity and leave the state and lose your retirement, stay and risk becoming senile, or change your career. The risk of leaving the state is that many other state public schools are equally train wrecks so it’s less of a risk to change your profession and start over. Example of the public school train wreck: “I have a great idea! Let’s open the schools to full capacity during the height of a global pandemic. I’m a genius!”

    18
  35. Disillusioned Teacher

    @Ken Thompson

    I have the minimum healthcare plans Georgia offers teachers (most of my friends married to no teachers go with the spouse’s plan because it is far better than top tier teacher insurance). Life insurance is included in some districts, but not all. You can add it in DeKalb. DeKalb will match 2% additional retirement once you work for DCSD for 5 years.

    My take home from a $61,000 salary (3 degrees, 8 years experience) is about $42,000. This is given in 24 checks of roughly $1750. State retirement is taken out (if I stay 30 years and state retirement doesn’t collapse I should get 60% of the average of my top 2 year’s pay. My parents retired this year and their top pay was 2007 – due to budget cuts. IF my top years are $80,000 before taxes, my retirement should be $48,000 before taxes.

    DCSD isn’t as transparent as other districts I’ve worked for as to what “benefits” they provide.

    6
  36. Resignation Questions

    Ken Thompson,

    I signed my contract for $64,000/year, which should be around $5,000/month. I currently take home about $3,800/month. That’s a difference of over $17,000 per year that’s not coming into my household. I look at my check stubs and still can’t figure out where the majority of that money goes. I pay around $500/month for health, dental, and vision insurance. I pay federal and state taxes, and I pay into my retirement. It still doesn’t add up to $17,000/year.

    7
  37. Teacher Protests

    Tons of teachers are at the AIC protesting right now. Head down if you can!

    10
  38. Disillusioned Teacher,
    Resignation Questions

    Thanks for the info.

    What really had/has me confused is the citation of a teacher salary of $73107 and what value actually shows up in Box 1 (Wages, tips and other compensation) on the Form W2 issued by DCSD. If the W2 shows $73107 that would seem consistent with the published salary. However it has been stated that DCSD scales this down to 190 days and then Box 1 should be $53424.35 or thereabouts. If this is the case it would seem a bit misleading, not only to the teachers but to the general public, though I know for a fact this happens in other, similar circumstances.

    I plugged some numbers into a tax calculator (https://smartasset.com/taxes/georgia-tax-calculator#aYemeDEJ3c) and given that teachers don’t pay the employee 6.2% for Social Security I would expect a tax bill of around $11-12K leaving around $5-6K for benefits. I pay somewhere around $14-15K for health insurance (high deductible, not subsidized by any employer) and I would suspect that most companies pay at least 1/2 of the total premium and if it isn’t a high deductible the rates are at least 50% greater. Depending on the plan and the level of employer subsidy this could go a long way towards explaining the gap.

    Again, I’m an outsider but even as just-a-taxpayer I would really appreciate higher quality information from this billion dollar business.

    6
  39. Resignation Questions

    Ken,

    Thanks for the calculator. I wish my take home pay was close to what that calculator suggests that I should be bringing home. That would be nice.

    3
  40. DCSD seems committed to providing a Face to Face option in January.

    Many would like to give the teachers who desire it an option to remain virtual. For those who want to give teachers that option, how would that work? Would we need to completely re-do the process of assigning children to their teachers based on whether the instruction is virtual or face to face? What if their is an imbalance between teachers and students? For example 60% of students want face to face but only 30% of teachers (or vice versa).

    3
  41. Thank You to those who offered supportive responses to me.

    I am too old to return to college for 2-3 more years to add “teacher certification” to my existing BA Degree, and I have no money for college. For the majority of my 30 years in HR, I created and facilitated training and development programs for adult learners, from entry level employees to doctors. This doesn’t matter to the school system.

    School Pricipals are powerless to override the State requirements for a Sub to help now. I have tried with multiple people, and the answer has been the same….No teacher certification firmly means no work. “Training of Subs on virtual software will not be conducted”. They can’t help. I have no work. The County won’t let me.

    1
  42. Disillusioned Teacher

    @ Ken & Resignation Questions

    Yeah, Ken’s Calculator calls for me to take home nearly $5000 more per year…

    1
  43. @Ken Thompson,

    If a teacher’s salary is $73107, that’s the salary in Box 1. Here’s how the 190-day contract comes into play. Teachers often refer to their daily rate. for this example, the teacher’s daily rate is $385 ($73107/190 = $384.78…I rounded up to get a whole dollar amount). That means, if a teacher worked 260 days like many non-teaching jobs, they would earn $100,100 at the same daily rate. For those who are looking to change careers, this is important. Yes, there are jobs that have a similar or higher salary than teaching, but they also require more days of work.

    3
  44. “Super-infectious variant Covid strain sends cases soaring with 36,804 more infections and another 691 deaths – the highest for a month”

    “Covid doubles in a week”

    Latest headlines from Britain. How long before those are headlines here? Could we possibly be returning at a more dangerous time? Stop the insanity, please! This is ridiculous!!

    12
  45. “ REVEALED: One American died from COVID every 33 seconds last week as 2020 becomes deadliest year in US history with death toll of more than THREE MILLION expected by end of December”

    Latest American headline, but let’s open the schools in January, that’s a smart decision!

    10
  46. American headline continues:

    Preliminary numbers suggest that the US is on track to see more than 3.2 million total deaths this year, which is a 15% jump from 2019

    It would mark the largest leap since 1918, when 116,516 US soldiers died in WWI and 675,000 Americans died in the Spanish Flu pandemic

    Deaths could potentially go even higher for 2020 once all fatalities from this month are counted

    Life expectancy for 2020 could now end up dropping as much as three full years

    COVID-19 has so far killed more than 319,000 Americans this year and the death toll is only increasing

    Deaths from coronavirus have been surging this month to record highs with the nationwide seven day average now at more than 2,600

    The last week has been the deadliest of the pandemic so far with more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths, which equates to one death every 33 seconds

    6
  47. Resignation Questions

    Daily Rate,

    Trust me, you don’t need to school teachers on how we get paid. We know that we get paid a daily rate. Regardless, it makes more sense to leave and work somewhere else—even if I only get paid a few thousand more. The stressful nature of this profession coupled with the sheer disrespect and disdain we’re shown is not worth the summer break people keep trying to dangle in front of our noses. I don’t care about working during the holidays or the summer. I work during the holidays and summer now, with no extra pay and no overtime. I have often worked at the school late, sometimes 7 or 8 hours past my contract hours. I work on weekends, at the school, for 9 or 10 hours (for free). I work during the summer for free as well. Teachers are not strangers to hard work. I’d actually prefer to get paid my daily rate if I actually got paid for ALL of the days I work. Teachers are expected to work late, work on weekends, and work during our breaks all of the time. As a matter of fact, I’ve given myself this week to do absolutely nothing related to work. Next week, it’s back to grading, lesson planning, reviewing data, making plans for our return, etc. I’ll gladly keep track of those hours that I have to spend working during my break if you want to pay me my daily rate.

    24
  48. Alison, why can’t you sub in Gwinnett or Fulton? Why do you even want to sub here?

    3
  49. In October, Dekalb listed all of the leave forms that could be completed. With this new, reopening plan, where are all of the leave forms listed that we may complete if necessary?

    1
  50. @Just Wondering,

    Thank you for your thoughts. The other counties were the same way, not having use for Subs who were not former certified teachers. They didn’t want to train Subs like me on the virtual software.

    I live 1/4 mile from my two middle schools. I drive past them often, and it hurts my heart.

    I am almost to the point of ‘acceptance”. I can’t fight for this anymore. I am not needed as a Sub, so I suppose I will just give up and focus on other work….and be very, very sad.

    Thank you again. ~Alison

  51. I am going to leave this here:
    I think it is VERY sad that Watson-Harris waited until we were going on break to give the community this sad news. She is not understanding the amount of stress and anxiety her decisions are causing. The crap about teachers have options is lip service.
    Dr. Morley or someone on the board needs to help this community.

    26
  52. “Georgia World Congress Center to reopen as overflow COVID-19 care facility”
    “ ATLANTA — The Georgia World Congress Center will reopen as a COVID-19 overflow care facility amid a record surge in cases in the state, Gov. Brian Kemp announced on Tuesday.”

    “ Cases and hospitalizations have skyrocketed in December in Georgia, past their previous summer heights. There are nearly 3,700 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Georgia now, well beyond the summer peak of about 3,200.
    The seven-day moving average of daily new cases is over 4,800, compared to a summer peak of about 3,700.
    That soaring caseload is putting a strain on hospital resources. More than 87% of ICU beds are in use, according to state figures, and more than 83% of all general inpatient hospital beds are taken.
    Ventilators in use have gone from under 900 to almost 1,300 in the last week.”

    I have a brilliant idea! Let’s open the schools in January!

    21
  53. 10% Threshold?

    https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/protesters-voice-concerns-with-dekalb-countys-school-reopening-plans/ST5GX6AH6BAQHO3GJNDZG5UK2A/

    Do a majority of the members of the school board support re-opening on January 4 regardless of the 10% threshold? Morley said no. Dacosta said no in a comment on his Facebook page.

    Have any board members publicly said they support the return-to-building plan even if the number stays above 10%?

    Stan, what’s your position on the issue?

    19
  54. Healthcare worker

    I see all you folks parents and teachers complaining about EVERYTHING!
    Have your selfish selves once thought about the essential healthcare workers
    In all this that need the F2F option. As CWH said she looks at the diverse opinions of everyone in the districts. I am in healthcare what am I suppose to do with home schooling, childcare bills. If you don’t support us we will quit too, and where will you get your oncology treatment or emergency surgeries from.
    This DeKalb school community of parents not wanting to return face to face stay in your homes. That means you don’t leave your homes for medical and dental appointments. Shame on you selfish people! Health care workers deserve the right for F2F learning for their children.

    2
  55. DeKalb Teachers and their whining have made themselves irrelevant in all this.
    The whole nation and state has seen their selfish behavior. All other teachers in the state and US are back F2F.
    Please resign, we don’t want our children around you. We want them to have real heroes as teachers.
    As a healthcare worker we need F2F learning. We don’t have cushy jobs from home with Wednesday’s off to go to the dentist and get nails done.

    2
  56. I’m curious does this law just go out the window? It states one day a week it can go out the window but outside of that what is the plan?
    We are required to eat with our students but this has yet to be brought up so would love to know – only real response we have had is we will have planning and that should not be our lunch break at 7:50 am or 9:45 am or whenever that time may be. I completely understand not wanting to have students eat in the cafeteria and I understand that there is not really another option in this case, BUT this should have been figured out by the county already since they’ve had months. Principals are limited in what they can do because they have points and those points do not cover lunch duty coverage so the county should definitely figure this one out and I challenge them not to pull EIP, ESOL, or SPED teachers to cover.

    Thanks for any info you can provide.

    2010 Georgia Code
    TITLE 20 – EDUCATION
    CHAPTER 2 – ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
    ARTICLE 6 – QUALITY BASIC EDUCATION
    PART 6 – EMPLOYMENT
    SUBPART 2 – CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT
    § 20-2-218 – Duty-free lunch period; exchange of lunch period for compensation or other benefit; length of school day not affected; exemption for extenuating circumstances; funding
    O.C.G.A. 20-2-218 (2010)
    20-2-218. Duty-free lunch period; exchange of lunch period for compensation or other benefit; length of school day not affected; exemption for extenuating circumstances; funding

    (a) Every teacher who is employed in grades kindergarten through five for a period of time of more than one-half of the class periods of the regular school day shall be provided a daily lunch period of not less than 30 consecutive minutes, and such employee shall not be assigned any responsibilities during this lunch period. Such lunch period shall be included in the number of hours worked, and no local board of education shall increase the number of hours to be worked by an employee as a result of such employee’s being granted a lunch period under the provisions of this Code section. This duty-free lunch period shall not be calculated under any circumstances as a part of any daily planning period or other noninstructional time.

    (b) Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to prevent any teacher from exchanging that teacher’s lunch period for any compensation or benefit mutually agreed upon by the employee and the local superintendent of schools or such superintendent’s agent, except that a teacher and the superintendent or agent may not agree to terms which are different from those available to any other teacher granted rights under this Code section within the individual school or to terms which in any way discriminate among such teachers within the individual school.

    (c) The implementation of this Code section may not result in a lengthened school day.

    (d) If necessary where due to extreme economic conditions or an unforeseen and unavoidable personnel shortage, a local unit of administration may require a teacher otherwise entitled to a duty-free lunch period to supervise students during such lunch period but for no more than one day in any school week.

    (e) Notwithstanding any of the foregoing provisions of this Code section to the contrary, nothing in this Code section shall require the General Assembly to appropriate funds for the implementation of the duty-free lunch program; provided, however, that any such funds appropriated for this purpose shall be used by local school systems for duty-free lunch periods for classroom teachers in grades kindergarten through five.

    15
  57. I find it so interesting that when teachers come together and stand up for themselves, we are selfish, greedy, money-hungry people, but when anyone in any other career field or families do it, it’s perfectly fine. Newsflash, contrary to popular belief, teachers are people with feelings and lives outside of their jobs too! Sometimes, it seems as if we’re the only people in the whole world who are expected to put our careers before everything else in our lives, and frankly, I refuse to fall into that nonsense. I saw a comment on this blog from a fellow teacher that literally stated that teaching is supposed to be the “profession that would do anything for the kids.” Excuse me, what?! I don’t know about any other teachers here, but I’m here to say that when I went to college to earn my teaching degree, I did so to have a noble CAREER that would allow me to help others AND earn a living to support my future family. What people in society (and this is educators and non-educators) seem to forget is that teaching is a CAREER! The only thing I agreed to do by signing my contract is offer a service and receive payment in return for that service! Nowhere in my contract did it list that I was required to do any and everything for other people’s children no matter what! That is where I draw the line! This career is so draining, it’s ridiculous. Teachers are tired of having to be the martyrs of modern-day society. We are literally expected to do EVERYTHING that everyone else in society, especially parents, is not willing to do. I am planning to continue teaching for now, but in the meantime I am actively searching for another career choice, because frankly I’m tired of having to deal with the constant disrespect that comes along with being a teacher. I am hopeful to find another job prior to next school year, but if i don’t, guess what? I’ll sign my contract again, and I’ll continue to show up for these children (who are innocent) until I do. But please know that at any given moment when my next opportunity comes along, I will walk right out the door of my classroom and on to my next career! If families can do what’s best for them, than so can we! I will protect my mental health. I’ll gladly give up my school “breaks” (when I’m working for free anyway) for the peace of mind and respect that I can gain in another field!

    37
  58. Julie Walker's Obtuse Rant

    Julie Walker
    What a selfish rant you have just published. You have proven that not all health care workers have compassion…You’re a fool.

    21
  59. Educated Educator

    Good day, healthcare worker. Thank you for sharing your feelings on this platform. I have in fact thought about our healthcare workers for they are on the frontlines of this pandemic. I’ve prayed for them daily as they stand strong against this invisible enemy.
    My heart still cries out for their sacrifices and devotion and no other job can be compared to what they do
    But we are not walking into a doctor’s office, a hospital, or urgent care facility where temperature checks will be done before entering. There will be no donations for hand sanitizers, face masks, or other protective gear that will keep us safe. I am not selfish. I am selfless. I’ve spent hours on the phone and on Teams assisting both parents and students with homework and class assignments. Having them to share their screens so that I can assist them in navigating whatever platform we are using, I’ve developed games and other interactive activities that will provide our students with visuals, hands-on experiences to help with an abstract concept. As a special education teacher, my training prepared me to chunk large information into smaller tasks so as not overwhelm our students, my available work hours extend long after classes are over. I even told parents to call me over the weekends so I can assist them or their students because I understand that many of my parents work during the day.
    And I do this in addition to being a single mother of three whose children are doing online learning as well. My kindergartner and 2nd grader need to be in school so they can learn face to face as well, but I am not risking their health. I opted for them to stay at home, until these numbers are low. How am I being selfish when I’ve done nothing but put the needs of others before my own? Yes, I get it! But nothing in this life is fair,
    I don’t believe that teachers are being selfish for not wanting to go back to f2f, I believe and I can only speak for the three hundred sixty-five teachers I’ve exchanged phone calls, texts, and duo with that our concerns are legitimate about the lack of safety measures our schools claimed to have implemented during a peak in positive COVID cases. And the number of teachers I communicated with is significantly lower than the parents I spoke to who are NOT sending their children back to school.
    Healthcare worker, we work in Title l schools. Our funding is drastically limited. We buy our students school supplies, school uniforms, we hold or provide breakfast for students who re always late to school. Some of us have to wait an hour with a student after school because the parent is always late picking them up. But this is not a contest about the woes of a career. It’s about a harsh reality that this virus is real and not everyone is taking it seriously. It’s about the family members and loved ones we had to bury because of the complications of this virus. And I’ve been to my share of graveside services.
    My heart will continue to cry out for every person who has suffered due to this pandemic. And I will continue praying… but I refused to stand or sit by when someone claims that I am being selfish for not wanting to risk my health. Do you believe that it is safe enough for us to return to school with minimal risk involved?

    22
  60. “ New record set in Georgia for new COVID-19 cases reported in single day”

    New headline!

    9
  61. all the more reason for pom pom woman to open schools in Dekalb.

    5
  62. Anyone else find it suspicious that “healthcare” workers are on here demanding schools be opened? Aren’t they the ones who have been begging everyone to stay home during this pandemic? I’m sorry, I don’t believe you are healthcare workers.

    21
  63. 8000 daily cases in Ga, when Dekalb Opens Face to Face

    You’re probably correct about health care workers like a minion like Julie Walker who is probably tired of continually being stumped by her child’s third grade homework.

    14
  64. Hi Stan,

    The sick leave protections for COVID end at the end of this month and it doesn’t look like they will be renewed. Does DeKalb have plans in place for when teachers are exposed or come down with the virus? Will we be required to quarantine and use our own sick time? I don’t have 10-14 days worth of sick time, which means that I won’t get paid if I have to quarantine. Does the county have plans in place for teachers who refuse to quarantine because they need to work to get paid?

    12
  65. My husband is a healthcare worker too. He is too busy to respond to a post concerning teachers. He has PPE, bonuses, and constantly states how people should stay home! Dekalb county will not protect it’s teachers like the healthcare systems protect it’s workers! We have received lesser pay during this pandemic. My husband is receiving incentives for working during this pandemic. We are not relying on the leaders to do what they say they will do, because they have lied time and time again. Where is the “daily rate” promised for the PDI days? Where is the abundance of supplies? Where are the incentives for us? Since everyone deems teachers as essential workers, protect us and pay us like the healthcare workers!

    24
  66. I'm just saying.

    3239 American lives lost to Covid-19 yesterday. That makes this the deadliest year in United States history. I’m just saying.

    9
  67. DSW2Contributor

    Let’s discuss how quickly Mrs. Watson-Harris threw away her reputation and credibility — I have never seen anything like it.

    Here is my understanding of what happened:

    Wed, December 2 – Regions 1 & 2 Town Hall Meetings: Palace tells community that DCSD is staying virtual

    Mon, December 7 – BOE meeting and Community Input session: Watson-Harris tells community that DCSD is staying virtual

    Wed, December 9 – Region 3 Town Hall Meeting for Parents: Palace tells community that DCSD is staying virtual

    Thu, December 10 – The scuttlebutt in the Palace is that DCSD will be returning to in-face learning in January.

    Fri, December 11 – BOE Member Stan is still unaware that DCSD is returning, according to his 10:05 AM post that said “@EntitledTeacher, I’m finding out with everyone else as we go. I talked to the superintendent last night for a few minutes. They should be releasing some potential dates today. I’ll get my hands on as much information as possible and do an analysis on the change of direction here.” (Stan, I’m quoting your post since it shows that the Superintendent was telling a BOE member something different than what the Palace was saying internally.)

    Mon, December 15 – Stan blogs that “DeKalb Schools has announced they will begin its re-opening process on a staggered schedule Jan. 4, 2021.” Stan’s posts in that thread seem to show that he did not know until 3:27 PM that we were going back to F2F without any consideration of the covid data.

    Tue, December 16 – The Palace calls an emergency All Principals meeting on the subject of returning to F2F.

    Honestly, I have never before seen a Superintendent and the Palace so blatantly mislead the BOE and community. On Monday, she was telling the BOE that we were staying virtual; by Friday afternoon, everyone in the Palace knew we were going back to F2F.

    On Wednesday, the Palace (Sean Tartt, I assume) told Region 3 Parents that we were staying virtual… and then the very next day the scuttlebutt in the Palace was that we were going back to F2F. Doesn’t Watson-Harris know that DCSD’s Prime Directive is “never get caught lying to a group of black parents?”

    33
  68. @DSW2Contributor

    I am just insanely curious about what happened to cause the sudden change.

    Why not give the board a chance to weigh in?

    14
  69. waitingforgodot

    Ken Thompson,

    Thank you for asking about “teacher” pay. I wish more people did.

    “Teacher” is as flexible a term as “benefit”. Dekalb pays 15,500 employees. About 6,000 are “teachers”. Only about 4,000 are classroom teachers-the people you probably think of who are working with students every day, whose names are on students’ schedules and report cards, who conference with parents.

    The salaries and benefits Stan provided need much context. I don’t think those look anything like the average classroom teacher’s compensation package. An older teacher with a bachelor’s degree will have clocked twenty-five years before hitting 70k. A teacher with a master’s degree will have taught for fifteen years before hitting 70k. A teacher with a doctorate will have taught ten years before hitting 70k. Dekalb has been losing teachers, so I bet no more than 50% of all “teachers” are earning 70k.

    Here’s a sampling of 16 high school math teachers’ salaries and benefits:
    8 earned a 50k+ salary
    1 earned a 60k+salary
    4 earned a 70k+ salary
    2 earned a 80k+salary

    For those salaries above, benefits ranged from 14k to 32k. One 82k salary had 19k in benefits, and one 59k salary had 25k in benefits.

    Paraprofessionals’ and secretaries’ salaries can range from 22k to 30k with benefits of 17k to 20k.

    Assistant principals’ and principals’ salaries range from 103k to 115k. Those benefits can be between 24k and 38k. School administrators make 3ok to 50k more than classroom teachers even though administrators’ years of experience and degrees may be much fewer. Some may have never taught in a Dekalb classroom (scary thought for Covid planning).

    Of course there is also the out of school administrators’ salaries and benefits that the last superintendent, who was run out of town seemingly for his out of control spending, actually increased.

    The state funds only some district and school house positions, so districts like Dekalb do a few things. When the Governor announces a raise or pay increase for “teachers”, the district can spend that money the way it wants. It can give ‘teachers” none, some, or all of that money. Typically, Dekalb gives ‘teachers” only some of that money so it can redistribute it. Title 1 and other federal funding mechanisms also pay for jobs. Not sure Title 1 or other federal funding pays for the teachers retirement system contributions or other benefits.

    All of those 15,500 employees have access to the teachers retirement system that employees and Dekalb County Schools pay into. If I had to guess, those benefit contributions are also working like the “teacher” raise, so that each employees’ contribution also includes a percentage of Dekalb’s annual payroll in addition to the individual employee’s.

    9
  70. Now I’m curious

    @waitingforgodot Since you have clearly spent a while looking at these numbers, do you also know how Dekalb compares to other districts in terms of number of employees not actively teaching students?

  71. “ Alarming COVID hotspot map shows majority of US counties are now in serious trouble – as nation records its second deadliest day with 3,400 deaths and Biden says the ‘darkest days’ are still ahead”

    I have a great idea, let’s open the schools!

    11
  72. waitingforgodot

    Now I’m curious,

    No idea. I wish state legislators required districts to publish such information. Of course that also assumes that legislators understand education funding.

    I do know that other districts’ long-serving classroom teachers did not receive settlement checks this month. Nor did other metro area districts’ classroom teachers have fewer days to prepare for the most challenging year of school ever. Not aware of any other district trying to pass off planning as a professional development institute either. Other districts prioritized actual planning by budgeting for it.

    We got an increased communications budget. Now we have communications of planning without actual plans. “Teacher” and “plan” , like many other terms in education and, especially so in Dekalb, are up for interpretation.

    3
  73. A new mutant strain from South Africa just discovered in Britain. This is in addition to the British strain recently discovered that was all over the news the past few days.

    Headlines from Britain:

    “Even MORE infectious mutant coronavirus strain is found in Britain after being brought from South Africa – as infections soar again to a new record of 39,237 and millions MORE are plunged into Tier 4 from Boxing Day”

    “ Why is South Africa’s new variant so scary? UK bans travel to SA where newly discovered mutant that’s even more contagious is driving massive second wave among young people
    Cases in South Africa have spiked from 3,000 to 9,500 per day in three weeks
    Health officials believe it is driven by a Covid-19 variant similar to Britain’s strain
    As in the UK, the new strain is thought to be affecting younger people more ”

    I hate to say this, but, our only hope at this point is for Kemp to shut down the hot spots, which Dekalb is one of. Kemp is our only hope for some sanity. I don’t think the board or Dekalb leadership is in their right mind. Something is seriously wrong with them. They are educated, they read the news. They can’t claim ignorance.

    8
  74. DSW2Contributor

    @ Timeline – “I am just insanely curious about what happened to cause the sudden change. ”
    ——————————————————————
    I don’t know what the cause was, but I am aware of three things that probably influenced her decision:

    (1) DCSD’s -5.4% Enrollment Drop: The state released enrollment data showing DCSD has lost the highest percentage of students during this school year out of all metro districts. On December 17, AJC education reporter Vanessa McCray tweeted out an APS presentation showing this:
    https://twitter.com/vanmccray/status/1339628723532914688
    I don’t know when DCSD received this data that shows DCSD in last place, but the AJC is usually at least a week behind on reporting state DOE data releases, so I assume the Palace probably had the data on or before December 10.

    *Important*: a comment under the tweet pointed out that Cobb County, with in-person learning, still managed to lose the same percentage (4.2%) of students as Clayton County lost doing virtual only learning. I see that APS, doing virtual only, has retained a higher percentage of students than both Fulton and Cobb who were doing in-person. Obviously F2F is *NOT* the panacea parents think it is.

    (2) Christmas Parties: Some of the palace royalty were holding in-person Christmas parties. Honestly, I just don’t see how any Superintendent could continue to justify keeping the buildings closed in the name of safety while key members of the Superintendent’s leadership team were gathering in-person for parties — just imagine the fallout had the AJC and other media outlets been tipped off!

    (3) Joe Biden: Biden promised that all the schools would reopen during his first 100 days… and Watson-Harris is probably listening to him since she spent all of her career working in blue states.

    I hope Santa brings everyone plenty of N95 masks, face shields and hand sanitizer!

    7
  75. @waitingforgodot thank you for your detail on salaries and benefits.

    Does anyone have any details on what explains the wide range of benefit costs? I suspect it is related to a teacher’s choice for health care (some may be on a spouse’s or parent’s policy while others may have their spouse and children on their DCSD provided policy. Are there any other benefits that make a difference?

  76. Dear Healthcare worker(s),
    I had 3 doctor’s appointments yesterday… 2 were telehealth because they are not seeing patients f2f. For the other appointment, I was required to call in to let them know I’d arrived, then told to remain in the car and wait for them to call me back when it’s safe to come in. Received call back asking me a series of questions and told that I could come in. Went to the door and waited for a front office worker to come to unlock the door to let me in. Temperature was checked and given hand sanitizer.
    I had a dentist appointment Monday. Again, I had to call in and wait for them to call me to back to enter the office. Their door was also locked, so I had to wait for someone to let me in once I got the OK to enter. Temperature was checked. So stop acting like teachers are being a**holes for wanting to be safe and KNOW that they will be safe when returning to the school building. The “I risk my life and so should you” train of thought has no impact on me or my feelings about reopening. It’s stupid and quite selfish.
    And just as an aside, did you notice how all of my appointments were scheduled during my break as opposed to the Wednesdays that were brought up? Stop acting like we don’t work or don’t want to do our job. Hell, we could say that Healthcare professionals are doing a horrible job considering the number of lives lost during this pandemic, but that would also be stupid, right? So stop already.

    27
  77. Safety concerns

    About the healthcare workers.

    Note- this is entirely anecdotal.

    Earlier in the year, before school was about to start, I asked the doctors and nurses I know what they were planning for their children. All but two said they were keeping their own children home. A nurse and a pediatrician said they were planning on sending theirs because the community spread where they live was low and they were confident in the safety steps their children’s schools were taking. I even had a doctor (surgeon) and nurse (ICU) without children tell me they would not send them if they had them. Both that had sent theirs earlier in the fall have since pulled their children out.

    I was catching up with friends on Zoom last week. One doctor, who is fortunate with her specialty, is working from home, as is her entire household. She even said her children, whose friends are still attending school, are restless but resilient. The other, a different pediatrician, still sees her patients, but the rest of her family is at home. All of us were talking about the challenges of raising children in this pandemic, especially that it was getting colder and darker for outdoor activities (two live up in very cold places), but none of the solutions was to send our kids back to school.

    It seems that the CDC has changed some language on school transmission: https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/526370-cdc-quietly-removes-guidance-pushing-for-school-reopenings.

    I’d like to know what the parents who work at the CDC plan for their own children when we reopen.

    20
  78. waitingforgodot

    Ben Greenwald,

    Whether someone’s salary/daily rate x number of days worked is 22k or 82k, there is one similarity-about 15k in benefits.

    Health insurance will definitely be a factor in those larger amounts for benefits.

    My guess to explain much of this? Dekalb has an annual payroll amount for which it has to pay a percentage to the teacher retirement system. That percentage is being divvied up among all its employees, either a flat percentage rate or one scaled to salary.

    I would think Stan could tell you if Title 1-funded positions include salaries AND benefits. Remember that Title 1 positions are coded differently from FTE-funded positions that the state pays for and your local tax dollars subsidize. FTE is determined by student numbers, as DSW 2 contributor noted above, so fewer students would mean fewer dollars to pay for those classroom teachers I keep describing.

    Title 1 and other federal monies are different. A school could elect to eliminate classroom teaching positions because of enrollment drops while still keep Title 1-funded “teachers” and other employees. Fascinating, right?

    If DSW2 contributor is right that this abrupt shift to in-person work and teaching, no matter the health risks, is about money, then you can see why knowing what we’re paying for matters so much.

    3
  79. With all the teachers planning to escape Dekalb after this school year, why are they worried about money? They should be worried about finding warm bodies to fill a classroom.

    14
  80. Stan,
    It is time for DCSD to bring in a Georgia Certified Neutral Mediator/Arbitrator to facilitate OPEN discussions with All interested and concerned parties in order to reach FAIR decisions. I am a GA Certified Neutral Mediator/Arbitrator, with 30 years of private sector experience, and I can lead this chaos in a better direction for ALL.

    Please approach the Board with this idea. One does NOT need to be an Attorney to perform in this capacity, which is a “plus” for a couple of reasons. First, attorneys tend to complicate things further.
    That is not advised at this point. Second, my fee is much less than an attorney’s typical $300+ per hour. In fact, it is half the attorney rate. We all go through the same rigorous training to achieve certification, attorneys and non-attorneys alike.

    I would appreciate the opportunity to Mediate or Arbitrate group, or individual discussions/situations. The County would pay for mediation/arbitration time, not the teachers, support staff, or parents. As a former Sub, with a 30-Year professional business background, I have no vested interest in an outcome, so I can easily maintain neutrality. Thank You for your consideration. It really is time for an experienced, trusted party to step in and facilitate the right, balanced discussions.

    2
  81. Stan, I’m confused. How does the 10% positivity rate impact things? In watching the town hall it seemed to be the new criteria which means that if the positivity rate at greater than 10% then school will not be back. Is this true? I’m just trying to figure out the plan. Thanks

    18
  82. @Joy,

    Thank you for thinking of me. I applied with Gwinnett three months ago, my application was acknowledged by email, I took a required on-line assessment, and didn’t hear from them after that. At that time, they only had a few openings. I think I need to go back to seeking employment outside of a school system. It has become too negative and chaotic an environment, and I need some “positive” in my life. Merry Christmas and a Happier New Year. 🙂

    6
  83. CDC is advising people who travel over the holidays to get tested before and after and quarantine when you return! Why is Dekalb having us return to a building on the 4th knowing people traveled over their break, thus putting everyone at risk? Is everyone who enters the building on the 4th being asked to declare if and where they traveled and provide a negative Covid test? Is Dekalb ok with forcing people into a building for 8 hours daily with others who may have been infected over the holidays because they traveled? Is Dekalb asking staff to quarantine for 2 weeks before the January 4, 2021 start date to ensure they are not putting lives at risk? We have the right to know how Dekalb is ensuring the safety of all human lives in our buildings.

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  84. DSW2Contributor

    “Indoor dining isn’t safe unless you call it ‘school lunch’.”

    — Justin Feldman, Epidemiologist of social inequality and state violence, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard
    https://twitter.com/jfeldman_epi/status/1341768017047379971

    6
  85. I'm just saying.

    3411 American lives lost to Covid-19 yesterday. I’m just saying.

    3
  86. @Yes…

    No, DeKalb isn’t requiring any of those things. Watson-Harris has made it abundantly clear that she does not care about the death rates, infection rates, the staff, students, or DeKalb families. If she did, she’d wait until after President’s Day to reopen. Waiting until Feb. 16th would ensure a few things: 1. Any infections from holiday travel will be caught by then, and the quarantine period/risk of spread from the holidays will be much lower. 2: Teachers should have access to the vaccine by then. 3: It gives teachers and families more than enough time to arrange for childcare (because doing so during the holidays is virtually impossible). Watson-Harris cares about ONE thing only—and that’s money. She doesn’t care if teachers get sick and die, she doesn’t care if we bring this virus home to our loved ones and children, and she really doesn’t care if the kids get sick and bring the virus home to their families, either. Maybe hiring someone from NY, who has no connection to the DeKalb community, was a bad idea. Nobody who cares about PEOPLE and the community would make this asinine decision. I think we should all approach this from the perspective that the cheerleader doesn’t give a crap. That way, the decisions she makes will seem less shocking. If she had come out and said she’d be this way, I think we’d all be less furious. Instead, she presented herself as a teacher’s champion. That’s what’s most offensive about all of this, in my opinion. She’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    25
  87. @my opinion, you are correct. She’s not sending out ANY travel warnings and neither is the board. For heaven’s sake-are trying to infect us?

    10
  88. @Yes,

    Probably. How many dead teachers do think it will take to fix DCSD’s budget woes? Watson-Harris is good as long as she can keep her taxpayer funded vehicle and $300k+ salary.

    14
  89. @ Yes,

    I think this is her way of trying to assert herself as THE educational leader in metro Atlanta, and I think she is willfull (and stupid) enough not to backtrack on her decision. Clearly, she has an overweening sense of of her own self-importance. It has only been mentioned in passing on this site that she got really bad “reviews” for posting pics of her $1,000,000 home in a tony area of town from her own sorority sisters. Their complaint: She was bragging, boasting of her “achievement.” This is no different. Recall that within days of being named superintendent, she came out and lied about the furlough days. Playing a game of semantics hardly ever works, especially when you’re doing it with (mostly) educated professionals. She is untrustworthy at best and quite dangerous for the worst.

    I believe the BOE could/should fire her for cause right now. At a recent BOE meeting, there was controversy over her hiring practices amid some scuttlebutt (from her) about a 25% leeway for hiring. From what I heard, the BOE members had no idea about a 25% leeway and were quite displeased about being left out of the loop with the hires. If that is not enough to terminate her, then her decision about reopening schools is. It shows that she lacks the essential quality for a leader, namely, putting the safety/well-being of children and staff at the forefront of any and all decisions. There is no logic in the world that Superintendent Watson-Harris could use to justify reopening schools after Christmas break at the height of flu/COVID infections, and anyone who supports her is just as foolish.

    If she’s savvy, she’ll come out and announce that it’s just too dangerous to go through with the reopening, but I doubt she’ll do it. In her little world of self-greatness, it would diminish her stature (in her mind) as Educational Leader of the Atlanta Area.

    And if the BOE members actually gave a damn about the safety/well-being of students and staff, then they would be talking to the press and making very vocal statements against the reopening of schools in January. Since they’re not, it would seem they support reopening and will be voted out of office in their next elections for doing so.

    All it’s going to take is one death, which is one death too many, especially considering that death could easily be avoided.

    27
  90. Documentation here: zero emails about safety protocols and how to maintain safety over the holidays and prevent infection of your coworkers on January 4, 2020. Nothing, nada. No safety protocols being communicated to Dekalb staff. I have received none. No standard for safety practices being communicated to staff. It’s December 24, 2020.

    10
  91. @ Yes,

    I’m certain that the lack of documentation about safety protocols and how to maintain safety over the holidays and prevent infection of coworkers on January 4 is all from concern about ruining everyone’s holiday … just like releasing the reopening plan at the last possible moment before Christmas break prevented all of us from worrying about the dangers of reopening before leaving for the holidays. The powers-that-be are probably waiting until January 2 or 3 to send all that out in one email with multiple attachments from Stacey Stepney or one of her minions.

    Isn’t it wonderful that Superintendent Watson-Harris doesn’t want us to have a crummy holiday by bothering us with such concerns? I’m so thankful for her consideration…..

    NOT.

    13
  92. Pregnant Teacher

    Still no answers from HR or area superintendent about accommodations…

    6
  93. It is worth your while to go to Diijon DaCosta’s Facebook page and see the comments there about the decision to return to school, which are posted on his Happy Holidays post.

    Also, interesting to go to the APS website and view the documents that the Superintendent sent to employees about their return to the classroom in January.

    1
  94. Dcsd get it together

    Truly disappointed that APS seems leaps and bounds ahead of DCSD

    2
  95. https://www.atlantapublicschools.us/Page/64741
    https://www.atlantapublicschools.us/Page/64742

    Stan, as a parent & teacher, this is the kid of detailed info I’d like and expected to see from the district.
    I’d also like actual details about how well HVAC systems are functioning. Numbers, not descriptors or adjectives. Region 1 still has terrible HVAC, and addressing this is key to mitigation.

    20
  96. Cobb Teacher in ICU

    Another Cobb teacher is in the ICU battling COVID.

    4
  97. Oh my goodness! That poor teacher from Cobb. And with the new strain from Britain and South Africa, how do we know staff aren’t visiting people in those countries or having them visit here? I know several people who married a Britain and certainly are spending the holiday traveling one way or the other. Absolutely no word from Dekalb about holiday safety protocols or standards or travel warnings. The board is silent too!!

    4
  98. @A Real Plan: the thing to understand about the HVAC systems, which we teachers know all about since we are in the rooms all day, is that they do not recirculate and CLEAN the classroom air, which is what the CDC recommends. The filter they put in my room is just a better quality filter, but absolutely NOTHING has been done to clean the air. I have been in my room almost a decade, and the smells from upstairs come in to my room from the upstairs. Moreover, I cannot open my window from time to time, which is recommended also by the CDC. In Germany the windows are opened every 15 minutes; not wide, but cracked enough to circulate air. That should make any parent worry about putting their child in a school building. A lot of this could have been helped if good quality AIR PURIFIERS had been purchased for the rooms and the schools at large. This is a disaster with potentially dire consequences in the making.

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