Biden’s Executive Order Supports Reopening of Schools

On January 21, Biden signed an executive order supporting the reopening and continuing operation of schools and early childhood education providers.

“The United States is committed to ensuring that students and educators are able to resume safe, in-person learning as quickly as possible, with the goal of getting a majority of K-8 schools safely open in 100 days,” states the executive order which instructs various federal agencies to provide guidance on how to safely conduct in-person learning.

CDC Research

CDC researchers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association earlier this week, “there has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.”

As reported by the Washington Post

“A new CDC study, also published Tuesday, looked at 17 rural K-12 schools in Wisconsin and found just seven out of 191 coronavirus cases resulted from in-school transmission. Researchers noted that students and staff in these schools wore masks almost all the time.

The conclusion here is with proper prevention efforts . . . we can keep transmission in schools and educational settings quite low, said Margaret A. Honein, the lead author of the JAMA report. We didn’t know that at the beginning of the year but the data has really accumulated.”

DeKalb Schools

DeKalb Schools administration seems to have decided back in December that students will be coming back for F2F (face to face) instruction. In January, in addition to the leave or accommodations granted to employees under Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and/or Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), further considerations for temporary hardship situations were given to all employees who requested it. I’m not aware of any accommodations or considerations granted to employees starting next week.

Chicago Public Schools

DeKalb Schools isn’t alone with grappling with teachers and employees over how and when to return. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has been widely reported on in the media. CPS Administration announced plans to return to F2F instruction by next week. This Monday, the teacher’s union voted to refuse to teach in person. In response, CPS stated that teachers who do not show up for work will be “deemed absent without leave and will not be eligible for pay”. This week, 18% of CPS employees were no shows. As of this morning, media reports indicate that CPS students are learning remotely again while CPS and CTU return to negotiations.

345 responses to “Biden’s Executive Order Supports Reopening of Schools

  1. Teaching in Region 1

    CWH is lying about building conditions and HR has no idea how many ADA applications they have left to complete, other than they haven’t finished 533 in over a month.

    If I did this I’d get fired.

    27
  2. DSW2Contributor

    ^^^^^ @mimoco – “Children are getting sick and making other people sick even outside of school.”
    —————————————————————
    It’s weird how other countries have found that opening schools causes Covid infections to go up in the community,
    but that magically does not happen in the USA according to the CDC.

    Here’s a Montreal Gazette article from January:
    “Schools are spreading COVID-19 in Montreal, new study finds – Concludes elementary schools reopening will probably undermine any possible benefits from the partial lockdown in effect.”
    https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/emsb-unveils-air-purifiers-maintaining-they-will-slow-spread-of-covid-19

    10
  3. DSW2Contributor

    New AJC article today:
    ————————————————————————————
    DeKalb school district closes additional buildings due to COVID-19

    The DeKalb County School district recently closed a few buildings for cleaning due to the coronavirus.

    The closures included its fingerprinting office, Smoke Rise Elementary School in Tucker and a meal production center at the John Robert Lewis Elementary School in Brookhaven.

    https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/dekalb-school-district-closes-additional-buildings-due-to-covid-19/VSDZT77J6VAQFJ2LZCTRLYU7G4/
    ————————————————————————————

    The article also says “A classroom was closed at Panola Way Elementary School in Lithonia, but the spokeswoman said the room was sanitized and the building remains open.”

    3
  4. mike pastirik

    Good evening Mr. Jester.

    I write as someone who believes in F2F instruction, recognizes the huge mental health and educational issues forced upon us by the pandemic, and I believe that it is incredibly difficult to know exactly where to draw the line – I am envious of no one in a leadership position.

    I believe that returning to school offers the best chance for our country to heal – economically, mentally, physically, and spiritually. So, I encourage each of you to write our political leaders – national and state – asking that educators (not just teachers) move “upwards” in line for vaccinations. In other states, educators are being given vaccines. No, the vaccines are not a guarantee against infection and family members are still in some danger, but it will give schools a fighting chance. So, write, not just to the blog, but to the individuals who set priorites. Be polite, but be persistent.

    Let us accept the situation we find ourselves in, redouble our efforts, and plan/construct our return to school. Let’s build a better educational system. Let “the better angels of our nature” take flight.

    Let us not cast blame and point fingers. Write to those who we elected to lead us. Enjoin in the great American experiment in participatory democracy.

    mike pastirik; Lakeside High School

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  5. Board Meeting

    Was anyone able to catch the board meeting? I wasn’t able. Did they announce any further plans or dates for students returning face-to-face?

    5
  6. DSW2Contributor

    New 11-Alive article “Death of DeKalb school staffer sparks more discussion about bringing teachers, students back to classroom”
    https://www.11alive.com/article/news/education/dekalb-county-schools-staff-member-dies-from-covid-19/85-0274af74-9fb8-4249-a03d-5e939655dcec

    Interesting line: “DeKalb educators were told to return last Wednesday. [Deborah Jones, President of the Organization of DeKalb Educators] said about 40 percent of ODE members didn’t show, up choosing to use sick leave instead.”

    6
  7. DSW2Contributor

    One blatant lie DCSD told 11-Alive: “And in response to reports about teachers are leaving in mass exodus, the superintendent said only 17 certified staff members out of 7,064 teachers indicated last week they plan to resign.”

    I don’t know where CWH got her “7,064 teachers” figure from. DCSD’s own website says it has “15,500 employees, including 6,600 teachers.”
    https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/about/

    I also wonder what CWH means when she says “certified staff” — I thought it was weird that she didn’t say “certified teachers”.

    If anyone wants to email the 11-Alive reporter, her email address is traceyamickpeer@11Alive.com

    8
  8. RatWhoJumpedShip

    DCSS is a sinking ship of incompetence. Take any one of the people in charge and put them in real world corporate America and they would not survive a week. Do what is best for you and your family. Face off with the Palace later. Litigation is your friend.

    11
  9. Bye, Super-cheerleader...

    Of course teachers aren’t leaving in droves right now. We’ve been threatened with losing our certifications and being fined if we quit. However, I know plenty of teachers (including myself) who are already applying for jobs in other counties, and who will not be signing their contract with DeKalb.

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  10. Bye super cheerleader.2

    Or will be retiring and not saying anything yet.

    12
  11. Simple planning needed

    DeKalb has no clue what it’s doing right now. From the head cheerleader to all these teachers screaming about the Covid boogieman in their closets, it’s a complete disaster right now.

    Here’s one person’s opinion:
    1. Tell parents, teachers and admins that school will remain virtual throughout the rest of the year. Allow after-school clubs/band/athletics where it makes sense to give kids some socialization.
    2. Start preparing now to reopen schools WITHOUT FAIL in the fall. That means that someone with organizational skills somewhere in the central office needs to map out how to get the HVAC up and running, how to have masks and sanitizer delivered in late July, how classroom protections and scheduling will work, etc so that it gets done.
    3. Tell teachers now that “you will come back or you shouldn’t sign your contract.” If teachers don’t want to teach, there’s the door. But tell them up front that schools will open, so you need to decide NOW how you feel about it. Put a clause in the contract about working through Covid.
    4. Set a schedule for hiring new teachers. While all of those who threaten to leave won’t, many will. Start interviewing now to get replacements ready. This may prod those on the fence about leaving to fight for their jobs.

    Someone at Dekalb has to have a clue. We’re not talking higher calculus here – just simple organization and planning. Then again, this is DeKalb.

    31
  12. I Don't Understand

    @Bye, Super-cheerleader

    I’m curious. Why do you plan on quitting?

    This doesn’t make sense to me that you and others are applying for jobs in other counties. Except for us and Clayton County, all of the other school districts are having face-to-face learning, most since August/September. Perhaps you’re not upset about going back face-to-face? I completely understand if you want to leave for other reasons as DCSD gives us plenty. As Orson stated, DCSD has been one of the two most conservative districts in the state. They are the only district I know that offered a 30-day hardship. Watson-Harris still has not announced a return date. We have been out of school for almost a year. I would hope teachers don’t leave DCSD to apply to other counties just because Watson-Harris may have students come back soon. However, if teachers leave because DCSD is a complete mess, I get it.

    10
  13. Over this school year

    I am so sick of CWH she does not care about her teachers and staff I have been asking for heat since last Wednesday and the school is telling me it is working but people in the school are complaining about know heat and no hot water. But according to CWH there is not widespread heat outages she is a liar why are we in school this makes no sense.

    10
  14. Bye, Super-cheerleader

    @I don’t understand,

    I’ve been dealing with DeKalb’s foolishness for well over a decade. This situation just reaffirmed that it’s time for me to go. I can no longer deal with the inconsistencies in this county. I’m angry that my pay was cut while other districts got bonuses (because DeKalb doesn’t want to pay for a lawsuit that it rightfully lost). While DeKalb is banning staff children from the building, other counties are providing childcare for their staff’s children. Many of my co-workers are forced to take unpaid leave to care for their children. This is causing major problems for my grade level team because we’re forced to merge classes and take extra kids during a time when class sizes need to be as small as possible. So, because CWH made the asinine decision to not allow staff children in the buildings, my health and safety are being put at greater risk because I’ll have a packed classroom. So much for following CDC guidelines! The lack of planning and foresight is pretty terrifying when our health and safety are dependent upon adequate planning and preparation from the top. I’m angry that Watson-Harris continues to lie about “preparations” DeKalb has made while we don’t see those changes in the buildings (which is why buildings are shutting down within 5 days of staff returning). Lastly, I’m angry that it’s clear that Watson-Harris has no respect for DeKalb teachers–and neither do most of the parents in this county. I have spent way too many unpaid hours working for my students for their parents to be this disrespectful. But, what more can we expect when even the top people in this county don’t respect teachers? It’s time to go.

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  15. Region 1 Teacher

    FMLA Info

    Here are some Questions and Answers from the FLMA FAQ at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla/faq

    (Q) Who can take FMLA leave?

    In order to be eligible to take leave under the FMLA, an employee must:
    work for a covered employer;
    have worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave; ( special hours of service rules apply to airline flight crew members )
    work at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles; and
    have worked for the employer for 12 months. The 12 months of employment are not required to be consecutive in order for the employee to qualify for FMLA leave. In general, only employment within seven years is counted unless the break in service is (1) due to an employee’s fulfillment of military obligations, or (2) governed by a collective bargaining agreement or other written agreement.

    (Q) Can my employer move me to a different job when I return from FMLA leave?
    On return from FMLA leave (whether after a block of leave or an instance of intermittent leave), the FMLA requires that the employer return the employee to the same job, or one that is nearly identical (equivalent).

    (Q) How soon after an employee provides notice of the need for leave must an employer determine whether someone is eligible for FMLA leave?
    Absent extenuating circumstances, the regulations require an employer to notify an employee of whether the employee is eligible to take FMLA leave (and, if not, at least one reason why the employee is ineligible) within five business days of the employee requesting leave or the employer learning that an employee’s leave may be for a FMLA-qualifying reason.

    4
  16. @Simple planning needed,

    This post needs to be pinned, quoted, hell, sent to the county office. It’s not hard – this is all that needs to be said.

    I’m a teacher that is understandably concerned with students returning. Not simply because they will be in my classroom, but because they will be in my DCSD classroom. All of the talk about “DeKalb is one of the only districts to not return” is simply a moot point. DeKalb is not like other districts. It’s in disrepair, and it STAYS in disrepair. As I’m sitting in my classroom right now, I am surrounded by ants, I take out my own trash, and my room is either 40 degrees or 140. My county-supplied PPE supply was TAKEN from my room earlier this week to divide it amongst other rooms as they didn’t have enough (my unopened pack of gloves taken and I was left with two pair, my three masks taken and left with one, my ten rags taken and left with two). You can’t compare DeKalb to Gwinnett or Forsyth, or any other district, for that matter. Most other districts don’t do shit like this. THIS is the reason teachers are complaining. It’s not (at least not with me or my colleagues) that we don’t want to come to work. We aren’t lazy. We want to work. I’ve been in the building since January 4th as I didn’t have a valid reason for taking the hardship.

    All of this said, what “Simple planning needed” said in their post is perfect. Punt on having kids return f2f in (at this point, earliest) March, and wait until teachers can be vaccinated. Then, announce that we are returning to normal come hell or high water, as scheduled, for the 2021-2022 school year. Inform teachers of this IN ADVANCE of contracts going out so they will KNOW what to expect and then it’s up to them whether they return or not. And, you know, as a district, actually BE FUCKING READY when it comes time to reopen. Use that $100 million surplus to ensure everything is in working order and, as our #1 cheerleader repeatedly says, make sure it’s following CDC guidelines. This is something ALL SIDES should be able to agree on, and think is more than fair.

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  17. Can somebody email me at stanjester@gmail.com the DeKalb Schools administration current Spectator Guidelines? Thank you 🙂

  18. Hi Stan,

    What are the “spectator guidelines”?

    1
  19. @Common Sense. Student sports “spectator guidelines”. Follow me on this … I’m told that coaches are being told that principals are being told by the central office that parents cannot go to any of their kids games no matter where it is … even if DeKalb Schools doesn’t own the sporting event site. I’d like to see the administration’s official guidance on this. I don’t see how the administration can restrict attendance at a site they don’t own.

    3
  20. Wow, sounds very DeKalb.

    4
  21. @Stan – wouldn’t those guidelines be subject to an ORR?

    1
  22. So let me get this straight:
    DCSD is confident that thousands of students can spend 6+ hours/day inside school buildings, including 2 meals, but
    DCSD does not know how to handle 50-200 spectators at an outdoor event that probably lasts 2 hours or less.

    Apparently they were able to manage spectators in the Fall but cannot do it in the Spring.

    Wow.

    9
  23. Anonymous, Good questions

    AB, Yeah … the guidelines are subject to ORR. I like to ask nicely first 🙂

  24. What is ORR?

    1
  25. DSW2Contributor

    @Stan: Interesting question.

    This December 10 AJC article:
    https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/dekalb-county-schools-to-prohibit-fans-during-winter-sports/BVAH54YTWZF4VFJ3JUWDARYVV4/
    said ” the district will continue to prohibit fans in the stands because coronavirus infections are still high in the community” but the DCSD news release “2020-2021 Winter Sports Announcement) said no such thing:
    https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/news/2020-2021-winter-sports-announcement/

    My thought is that if DCSD believes it is safe enough for employees to be in our poorly ventilated buildings then it must also be safe enough for outdoor spectators.

    11
  26. @curious – Open Records Request aka FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)

    1
  27. Henri P de Vastey

    Do you think it’s crazy that employees can come to your company infected with Covid-19, but the other employees don’t have to know unless someone decided for them they were exposed? It’s a pandemic!

    Is it true that the CEO of Ford Motor Company has more pandemic expertise than a foreman on the Mustang assembly line ? The CEO’s medical knowledge is superior?

    Did you know that teachers are neither mature nor intelligent enough to understand CDC guidelines or how Covid-19 spreads? If that is true, how will they keep the students safe?
    Do you realize that the poor teachers need some higher and smarter power to decide for them if they have been exposed or not? Is it because the bosses’ medical knowledge is superior?

    Did you know that teachers don’t need to know if a fellow teacher on their grade level, in their department, or on their hallway is Covid-19 positive or has symptoms. It’s not a big secret or a violation of privacy. For God’s sake, it’s a pandemic not a judgment on morals like teachers are gossiping about which teacher contracted syphilis or got pregnant out of wedlock.
    This country needs to grow up and take this pandemic seriously! If you are Covid-19 positive, tell everybody and make the world better!

    Where did the Ford CEO get his pandemic degree?

    13
  28. DSW2Contributor

    Another AJC article:
    ———————————————————————————
    DeKalb superintendent criticized over district’s handling of COVID-19

    Residents in the DeKalb County School District on Monday voiced complaints about teachers being ordered back into classrooms and urged the superintendent to delay bringing students back into buildings due to the pandemic.

    In a board of education meeting that lasted for hours, Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris faced criticism over health safety in buildings and a perceived lack transparency about the coronavirus in schools.

    “As a teacher, I know that not enough has been put in place to limit the risks to staff, students and the community,” Tanya Curry told board members.

    Curry said she’s resigning from the district rather than returning to school during the pandemic.

    https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/dekalb-superintendent-criticized-for-districts-handling-of-covid-19/YJMYNNSIOBAOXEABUH2KR7ETFE/

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  29. DSW2Contributor

    ^ That AJC article concludes with:
    —————————————————————————————–
    Watson-Harris stressed the district would not reopen schools unless all have safely enacted the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After the meeting, the district issued a statement attributed to the superintendent.

    “I hear the concerns of our community loud and clear,” the statement said. “We are continuing to engage in town halls and school walk-throughs in the entire District to evaluate when it’s safe to return to face to face instruction. Families will be given a two-week notice to provide a smooth transition before students return for face-to face-learning.”
    —————————————————————————————–

    CWH and DCSD put out a written statement that says the school buildings do not yet comply with CDC guidance and the buildings are not safe – if the building were already safe, then they would not have to “evaluate when it’s safe to return to face to face instruction.”

    Yet they are still forcing employees to report.

    15
  30. DSW2Contributor

    USA Today article:
    ——————————————————————-
    WASHINGTON — As President Joe Biden works to reopen most of the nation’s public schools within his first 100 days, the White House clarified its benchmarks Tuesday, giving a less ambitious goal than some parents might want to hear.

    White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday Biden’s goal is for more than 50% of schools to have “some teaching” in person “at least one day a week” – not necessarily fully reopened – by Day 100 of his presidency.

    “Hopefully it’s more,” Psaki said. “And obviously it is as much as is safe in each school and local district.”

    When he announced the goal in December, Biden said he aimed to ensure “a majority of our schools” are open within 100 days.

    But in Biden’s plan to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, released on his first full day in office, the White House lowered its marker, saying the goal only applies to “a majority of K-8 schools,” not high schools.

    https://news.yahoo.com/least-one-day-week-white-223751732.html

    4
  31. CWH screwed this up. Kids are staying home because it isn’t safe, but now she’s lost teachers (even if it is “only” 17) and she has throngs of teachers on unpaid leave due to health and childcare reasons. All while students are STILL doing virtual learning. Classes collapsed, teachers taking on additional students, students losing their teachers in the middle of the year, and principals scrambling for subs. For what?

    27
  32. Even Chicago is going back to in person classes, but “teachers” like DSW2 and the DeKalb central idiots know better???

    2314
  33. @Even Chicago

    What the fuck do you not understand about DeKalb not being anywhere in the same realm as other districts? Who fucking cares who is going back? Most districts in other counties and states have FAR better facilities, infrastructure, planning, and leadership than DeKalb does. It’s comparing Apples to Oranges. Come spend a week in a DeKalb county school. And, if for whatever reason you’re writing this as a teacher or staff member who DOES work in a DeKalb county school, then we need to all strive to work wherever it is you work.

    23
  34. HorrifiedPRPerson

    SERIOUS QUESTION: Is anyone, and I mean anyone, in DCSD leadership listening and watching the total crash and burn created by whomever is leading Communications?

    It’s a complete dumpster fire. Social posting/ghosting, external communications meant for employees, not fact checking CWH talking points, not doing any social listening and/or media relations tone analysis to assist with key messages….what an utter mess.

    I don’t see how she can possibly recover from this. Even if all the things are corrected, we’ll all remember that she publicly lied about things – whether she realized it at the time or not.

    27
  35. She needs help

    I am beginning to understand that the cheerleader is not “tone deaf”, but cannot admit she is wrong. There is nothing we can do or say about that. Only the board who hired her can do something but they do not have the necessary guts. You don’t beg her-you tell her. And if she quits, maybe Ramona Tyson can be persuaded to in-retire and bail us out for the third time.

    11
  36. @DSW2Contributor,
    Can tell me where to find the statement issued by CWH stating that buildings does not meet CDC guidelines?

    3
  37. Now that group of F2F parents is literally stalking CWH and board members and collecting photographs of them not following CDC standards (in groups without masks, being out in public, large family gatherings, etc). Pay no mind to the fact that they have no idea when the photos were taken or how absolutely psycho this is.

    Can you imagine being so deeply rooted in what you believe that you take to stalking elected officials on the internet to try to prove your point? Furthermore, whether a board member had a large family dinner at Christmas has ZERO BEARING on whether or not DeKalb schools are safe to open.

    LUNATICS.

    19
  38. @EvenChicago: Have you looked at all of the details about Chicago going back to school? Did you also realize that it was an agreement that was met after months of negotiation to HEAR TEACHER CONCERNS about going back into the classroom? Is everyone going back to the classroom all at once? No. There will be a gradual phase in for particular groups, and guess who is continuing to stay online until further notice? High school students….Please give accurate details to your statements instead of just throwing out a headline that does not at all explain the situation. There is absolutely NO COMPARISON to what is being proposed in Chicago and what is being proposed in DCSD. This is how misinformation is spread.

    16
  39. Also @EvenChicago,

    In addition to what Teacher123 listed, another condition for their return to f2f in Chicago is teachers will be vaccinated. Fuck outta here with your half-assed, un-researched, misinformed vitriol.

    19
  40. heads up their...

    @ Common Sense –

    Obviously you DON’T have common sense, you fucking idiot. Schools open up everywhere across the country and the world and yet a handful of DeKalb teachers and an incompetent central office are too lazy to go back. Studies out today that German kids who actually went back f2f are suffering from psychological issues. Just imagine what a year out of school is doing to our kids. Oh wait, you don’t fucking care.

    I’m sure you and your band of idiots will come up with hey, we’re not German – kind of like the completely stupid and irrelevant hey, our buildings are old.

    So go fuck yourself. And maybe next time, try to have some COMMON SENSE.

    2
  41. Please tone down the language. It takes away from any arguments you might have.

    13
  42. Whoa, pump the brakes Proud Boy

    9
  43. Confused, many times

    Someone please tell me what the rules are for FMLA. The Super stated at one time that you could work remotely while waiting on approval. Now I am hearing from others that you should report while waiting. Principals are giving different answers. I need clarification!

    1
  44. Checking in on Clayton County....

    Since schools are apparently the primary vector of transmission and must be kept closed indefinitely to protect from community spread, lets check in on Clayton County, where Dr. Beasley has decided to keep everyone safe in front of a screen for the remainder of the school year.

    Cases last 2 weeks/100k:
    Clayton (virtual)- 764
    Dekalb (virtual) – 386
    Cobb – 415
    Fulton – 404
    Fayette – 465

    Okay, well maybe they’re just getting hit with increased spread lately, but clearly since they’ve been virtual all year, the county must be in much better shape over the course of the pandemic versus other counties that have chosen to throw caution to the wind and educate in person. So let’s check on cases/100k in total:

    Clayton: 6490
    Dekalb: 6179
    Cobb: 6678
    Fulton: 6447
    Fayette: 4720

    Hmmmm……

    5
  45. Region 1 Teacher

    @Confused, many times

    When my ADA request was ignored, I applied for FMLA. Five days after applying I received an email from HR that included another form for me to fill out and another form for my doctor to complete. It also included this dire warning in red type:

    “Failure to return the completed Health Care Provider Certification (WH380) by the provided deadline may result in a denial of continuation of leave and you will be placed on unauthorized leave. An unauthorized leave of absence for 3 or more consecutive workdays without approval may be considered job abandonment and may result in resignation from your DeKalb County School District position.”

    Yet here is what CWH told The Champion Newspaper about teachers who have applied for ADA waivers:

    “We recognize that there has been a bottleneck of applications that have not been processed. During the time being, staff that has applied for an ADA accommodation and have not heard back, the guidance has been that they should contact their principal and their principal would work with human resources if the nature of their ADA requires that they stay out and that it would be dangerous for them to return to the building because of their underlying health condition…and that they should stay home until they receive official notification from the ADA,” Watson-Harris continued.” http://thechampionnewspaper.com/news/local/teachers-share-concerns-after-feb-3-return-to-dekalb-schools-40-employees-resign/

    I have certainly not received any guidance from the district or my Principal to stay home until I receive official notification. To the contrary, the district and my Principal have demanded that I return to the school building while awaiting resolution of my ADA and FMLA requests and my Principal has threatened to charge me with “job abandonment” if I continue to stay out of the building.

    So it is no wonder that you are confused. I am too. Ans so are many other wonderful DCSD teaching professional. Some of my confusion stems from the fact that the Superintendent is giving one message to the press and a wholly contrary message to staff.

    20
  46. Moral of that story @Region 1 Teacher and @Confused, many times, go to work even if you present symptoms of COVID. That’s what they’re making it seem like, anyway.

    13
  47. @WTF: That is exactly what is happening.

    4
  48. Checking In:

    Dr. Beasley is following the guidelines set by the CDC regarding community spread– which is what CWH claimed she’d do. He’s a superintendent who has the guts to stick to his word. Instead of harassing teachers, community members need to harass Governor Kemp and demand that teachers get vaccinated. Cowards (many of the people on this blog) punch down and harass the powerless. If you want to harass anyone, call Kemp’s office and express your criticisms. I’ve already called multiple times.

    19
  49. Tell them and tell them over and over again

    Write Vicki Turner chair of the board and ask her to intervene or demand an explanation for this stupidity. It is time to hold the board accountable for this disaster they foisted on the county by hiring this woman. I have seen many incompetent people in my life, but the cheerleader takes the cake, the frosting and the decorations. However she can only do what the board lets her get away with. Instead of sharing your valid concerns with us, take them to the board. If they are deluged with letters, emails, or smoke signals every day, maybe they will be sick of hearing from us and put their collective feet down. By the way, for anyone who is offended by my mention of smoke signals and want to call me a racist, you need to slow your roll sweetie. Smoke signals are in the Biblical time.

    7
  50. DSW2Contributor

    @ REGION 1 TEACHER posted “We recognize that there has been a bottleneck of applications that have not been processed. During the time being, staff that has applied for an ADA accommodation and have not heard back, the guidance has been that they should contact their principal and their principal would work with human resources if the nature of their ADA requires that they stay out and that it would be dangerous for them to return to the building because of their underlying health condition…and that they should stay home until they receive official notification from the ADA,” Watson-Harris continued.” http://thechampionnewspaper.com/news/local/teachers-share-concerns-after-feb-3-return-to-dekalb-schools-40-employees-resign/
    ——————————————————————————————-
    Thank you for posting that article; I hadn’t seen it.

    Some members of CWH’s Cabinet are telling their subordinates to disregard what CWH is saying because DCSD is *NOT* approving any telecommuting or other ADA accommodations. These cabinet members also seem to relaying this message in person instead of putting it in writing.

    I don’t know if CWH is intentionally lying or if the Cabinet and Palace are actively trying to sabotage CWH or if the Cabinet and Palace are just so incompetent that they are incapable of carrying out CWH’s directives…. hell, it’s probably all three.

    14
  51. So did anyone hear the Palace is closed due to COVID cases?

    11
  52. What’s up with Gevertz

    @Stan, if Gevertz honestly looks up to you and wasn’t *ss-kissing, can you request that she start doing her job and demand proof from CWH instead of gushing over whatever story is being told? You know better than most DCSD needs a critical eye, not sycophants.

    15
  53. Wool over their eyes

    I agree with @whats wrong… if the BOE isn’t willing to check their employee, the mismanagement that has plagued us before will continue. The only thing that will have changed is the name of the superintendent.

    13
  54. I wasn’t sure if I was watching the DCSD Town Hall or a Saturday Night Live skit on government incompetence.

    Everything from the pompous leader in maintenance, to the awful video at the end designed to eat away minutes to the fact that a return date wasn’t even acknowledged (even by saying “we’re not ready to provide a date). Everything about that Town Hall was awful. Just awful.

    If these are designed to create transparency and trust, someone needs to go back and redo the creative brief.

    18
  55. Stan-A quick question...

    Stan,

    I know that you’re not a member of the board anymore, but is it possible for you to ask why teachers like myself are sitting at home on unpaid leave simply because CWH won’t allow us to bring our own children (who attend the same schools where we work) into EMPTY buildings? Gwinnett and other districts allowed teachers to bring their own children with them to work, so why isn’t DeKalb? I could be doing my job right now. Instead, CWH decided that it was better for teachers to not serve our students over an issue that could be resolved by allowing us to bring our kids with us. If it’s so safe for teachers and students to be in the buildings, what’s the harm in allowing teachers’ kids (probably 10 kids max per site) to come with us so we can continue doing the important work of serving our students? I’ve been teaching with my own children in the same room as me since last March, so that’s not an issue. Now, my students are stuck with a long-term sub for at least 2 months because of this short-sighted decision. I’d like to know the rationale behind it, because it makes absolutely no sense to me.

    22
  56. Lucky ducky (not)

    Quick question: how did you get a sub? We were told that none were available.

    4
  57. New CDC Guidance

    New CDC Guidelines are out regarding re-opening schools. If I’m reading the guidance correctly and Dekalb follows these guidelines, middle and high schools are unlikely to be returning any time soon…unless the county decides it can successfully implement all of the mitigation strategies.

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/community/schools-childcare/K-12-Operational-Strategy-2021-2-12.pdf

    The guidelines talk about using the metric of new cases per 100k AND positive test percentage, but it also says, “If the two indicators suggest different levels, the actions corresponding to the higher threshold should be chosen.” For Dekalb, the cases per 100k is still in the 300’s, which corresponds to high transmission.

    Here is the guidance for middle and high schools in areas of high transmission: “Middle and high schools in virtual only instruction unless they can strictly implement all mitigation strategies, and have few cases; schools that are already open for in person instruction can remain open, but only if they strictly implement mitigation strategies and have few cases”

    For elementary schools in high transmission areas: “Elementary schools in hybrid learning mode or reduced attendance. Physical distancing of 6 feet or more is required.”

    Interestingly, it also has information about sports and extracurriculars in high transmission areas: “Sports and extracurricular activities are virtual only”

    8
  58. Not pleased with CWH

    Just got home and my girlfriend works at Chapel Hill Middle school and she tells me her principal sent and email that they have covid in their school not she is freaking out because not they have to see who has been around the person. I am also a teacher and I am trying to still figure out why school is open. Because CWH does not care about anyone but herself.

    8
  59. DSW2Contributor

    In case anyone did not read this Monday, February 8 AJC article:
    —————————————————————–
    DeKalb school district closes additional buildings due to COVID-19

    The DeKalb County School district recently closed a few buildings for cleaning due to the coronavirus.

    The closures included its fingerprinting office, Smoke Rise Elementary School in Tucker and a meal production center at the John Robert Lewis Elementary School in Brookhaven.
    https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/dekalb-school-district-closes-additional-buildings-due-to-covid-19/VSDZT77J6VAQFJ2LZCTRLYU7G4/
    —————————————————————–
    —————————————————————–

    The Superintendent put out a newsletter today, Friday, February 12, with some more closures mentioned:
    https://mailchi.mp/dekalbschoolsga.org/greetings-from-superintendent-302878
    —————————————————————–
    Smoke Rise ES – closed on Friday, February 5, 2021, for cleaning and sanitizing. DeKalb Board of Health recommended a five (5) day closure.

    Panola Way ES – a classroom was closed on Friday, February 5, 2021. The room has been cleaned and sanitized. Panola Way remains open.

    John Lewis ES food distribution area was closed on Thursday, February 4, 2021, for deep cleaning. Meal production was temporarily relocated. All meal production activities resumed on Tuesday, February 9, 2021.

    Public Safety – operations was closed on Friday, February 5, 2021, for cleaning and sanitizing.

    Public Safety – operations reopened on Monday, February 8, 2021. The fingerprinting unit reopened on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.

    Sam Moss Services Center was closed on Monday, February 8, 2021, for cleaning and sanitizing.

    Redan HS – multiple rooms were closed on Friday, February 5, 2021. The rooms have been cleaned and sanitized. Redan HS remains open.
    —————————————————————–

    9
  60. Covid & Quarantine

    We have several cases at our school and folks in quarantine. And not one word from the principal. If not for the folks in quarantine we would have no idea. Employees are knowingly coming into work sick, how do we expect this not to be the case when kids return. Parents will send their children to school sick.

    19
  61. 6 feet of distance between people in classrooms. Please show me how my 19 students who plan to return can be spaced that way in my classroom?

    17
  62. @Covid & Quarantine Principals are following the “protocol” from the county, which is basically to kept it as hidden as possible. At John Lewis ES, after the article on the AJC was posted related to a positive case from a cafeteria worker, and teachers started being anxious reading the article, is when the principal sent an email with explanations. Basically stating that they were following district protocol.

    So yeah, I think I’m not the only one that has total distrust in the low positive numbers presented so far by the district.

    20
  63. DSW2Contributor

    In the Washington Post:
    ———————————————————————
    Opinion: The CDC’s plan to reopen schools seems to prioritize expediency over teachers’ health
    Opinion by
    Leana S. Wen
    Contributing columnist
    Feb. 13, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. UTC

    After much anticipation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released a 35-page road map for returning to in-person schooling. While there are some admirable parts of the new operational guidance, I worry that it could result in more confusion and increased distrust.

    Here’s what the guidance does well. Unlike the Trump administration’s watered-down recommendations that were couched in language such as wearing masks “if possible,” these new guidelines are clear on many points. They lay out five mitigation measures that every school should implement: masking, distancing, hand-washing, cleaning and contact tracing. The part I like the most is how the CDC has divided schools into four categories based on degree of covid-19 transmission in their surrounding communities. At low and moderate levels, full in-person learning can occur; at higher levels, hybrid or reduced attendance is recommended.

    But look a little deeper and the problems begin. I was shocked that six-feet of physical distancing is not required across the board. While it is mandated at the two highest levels of transmission, at low and moderate levels, the guidance says only that physical distancing of six feet or more should be done “to the greatest extent possible.”

    Recall that the six-feet rule is what the CDC itself recommends as the criteria for social distancing, even outdoors. Many experts have suggested that six feet indoors is not sufficient, and the CDC’s own website explains that the coronavirus can be transmitted by tiny aerosols that can infect people at a greater than six-feet distance. In addition, there are now more-transmissible variants that will make this already highly contagious virus even more so.

    One has to wonder: Is this change really based on the best available science? Or is it made out of necessity, because schools don’t have the space and additional staff to accommodate six feet of separation? When asked to clarify during Friday’s news conference, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky essentially admitted that it’s the latter, saying it wouldn’t be possible for many schools to be fully open if its own recommended distancing were rigorously enforced.

    Another important omission is ventilation. It is widely accepted that ventilation is key to reducing covid-19 spread. Yet the roadmap contains scant information about ventilation, saying only that ventilation should be improved “to the extent possible . . . by opening windows and doors.”

    This is simply unacceptable. The Government Accountability Office has reported that to prevent covid-19 transmission, more than 41 percent of school districts need to update or replace their heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in the majority of their schools. Does this finding no longer apply, or is the CDC acknowledging that because making the change is too expensive and will take too long, schools should reopen without the needed upgrades?

    I can understand the argument that in-person schooling is just too important and cannot wait for these improvements. Perfect cannot be the enemy of the good, and we have to accept some level of risk because there is such great harm to keeping kids out of school.

    If that’s the case, however, then vaccinating teachers becomes of the highest importance. Yet the guidelines do not require that teachers are offered vaccinations before they return to the classroom. While many states have included teachers in priority groups, others have not. If the CDC included teacher vaccinations in their guidance, it could compel recalcitrant governors to move teachers to the front of the line. Instead, the many teachers and staff who are already spending hours every day in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces will be forced to continue doing so without the needed protection of the vaccine.

    The lack of focus on teacher vaccination points to a broader problem: The reopening guidance does not prioritize the health of those who work in schools. Growing evidence suggests that schools don’t contribute substantially to community transmission, but that doesn’t mean they don’t pose individual risks to teachers and staff. And while it might be that a student is safer in school than in an unmonitored child-care setting, it defies common sense to say that a teacher, especially one who is older or has underlying medical conditions, is just as safe in a packed classroom as they are doing remote instruction.

    Don’t get me wrong. As a physician and parent, I agree that every effort must be made to get our children back to the classroom, especially younger children and those with special needs. But the right way to do it isn’t to forgo evidence-based, common-sense requirements. Doing so raises the same question that plagued the CDC under the Trump administration: Is it science or expediency that’s driving its decisions? The Biden team has said they want to rebuild trust. These school reopening guidelines could do precisely the opposite.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/02/13/expediency-not-science-seems-drive-cdcs-plan-reopen-schools/

    28
  64. Tiredofthelies

    I am okay with honesty…I really am…if they just said go to school and deal with it…then fine…most of us could get over it..but to say that we are gonna use this mitigation strategy and that mitigation strategy….and safety is a priority is a joke. Anyone who has worked in a school building knows how useless the signage will be, how impossible it will be to have “distancing”, the inability to contact trace correctly and effectively, and the unrealistic cleaning protocols that are supposed to take place. I could go into detail on everything I just mentioned but what difference does it make…the decisions that are being made are by the people who won’t have to be in a building for 8+ hours with 1000+ people breathing the same air from spotty HVAC units…my desk has a layer of dust across it every other day from the HVAC that blows in my room…I have half of my closet in my classroom because I don’t know if the “HEAT” blowing is going to be hot or cold on any given day…its ridiculous. Again…just tell us we have to come back because the students are falling to far behind in this broken education system…tell us that we aren’t going to hold kids and parents accountable for their inability to be present and participate in class online, tell us that the pressure from the community and powers that be are to much and you are succumbing to the pressure….but don’t tell us its because its safe now…and its not spreading in schools…and you are confident in our safety in the building…just be honest with us! Thanks for letting me rant!

    50
  65. I agree with @tiredofthelies. If the district was honest and said they were sending us back unprepared, I’d probably go because I need the money, and I’d do everything I could personally to ensure my safety.

    Instead, CWH and her support staff are cranking out propaganda so that when I (or another staff member) fall ill, they can point to their videos and monologues and say they have me a safe environment and I was willing to come back, I must not have followed the procedures put in place.

    The truth is they cannot, and will not, get schools ready. They’ve had 11 months since the shutdown, and about 8 since CWH started, and the HVAC is in the same state of disrepair.

    23
  66. How do you have 1) a surplus 2) teacher work reduction days 3) terrible facilities and 4) horrible technology?

    Answer- mismanagement

    38
  67. Well, since APS has now delayed the start of school for tomorrow morning by 2 hours, how long before Super Watson-Harris follows suit?

    8
  68. DSW2Contributor

    Georgia DPH data for Dekalb County, February 15, 2021:

    Cases (last two weeks): 2,535
    Cases per 100K (last two weeks): 320
    % Positive (last two weeks): 7.6%

    % PCR Tests Positive: 6.6
    7-day moving average: 7.5

    I hope the downward trends continue so that we can reopen for F2F instruction.

    3
  69. DSW2 –
    You’re so full of it. “I hope … so we can reopen.” Yeah, sure you do. You are one of the many putting roadblocks in the way of common sense. Now supposedly you’ve changed sides? What a joke you are.

    5
  70. Henri P de Vastey

    @ Really?

    Whence comes the necessity and anger of your comments?

    Every teacher who directly teaches students wants to re-open without delay provided it is done safely. They miss every student!

    Once the Covid-19 contagion drops to level deemed safe in context with mitigation measures, no classroom teacher will want to remain virtual or hybrid or concurrent. It follows they would want the DPH data to trend down so that the mitigation portion borne by the school system can be brought down within its capacity and capability to execute a safe return. Teachers are more worried about students getting ill than adults getting ill.
    Teachers and other reasonable do not understand why anyone would advocate to re-open schools come Covid hell or high water. They can’t comprehend why any one would put students, teachers, and the greater Dekalb community in danger absent some pathology.

    7
  71. DSW2Contributor

    Georgia teachers under 65 are driving to Alabama to get vaccinated because AL does *not* have a residency requirement:
    https://www.gpb.org/news/2021/02/15/georgians-hope-get-covid-19-vaccine-across-state-lines

    I just checked 50 Walmarts in AL — unfortunately all of them were completely booked.

    5
  72. Concerned Citizen

    https://rmbodenheimer.medium.com/a-progressive-parents-rant-about-the-politics-surrounding-school-reopening-a816cae963fd

    Highlights from linked article: I won’t stay silent while unions ignore the science and the entire public health community, and all the research telling us schools aren’t drivers of transmission, that spread is much lower in schools than in the surrounding community. Last March we didn’t know any better. But now we know — and we’ve known for months. Europe opened up in the fall. Florida, Texas, all the red states opened up. Rhode Island was one of the few blue states that was committed to putting kids first. Can you remember even one major outbreak that was tied to school transmission (not a handful of cases, but an outbreak)? I can’t. And teachers aren’t at greater risk either.

    Your own kid might be doing ok in remote learning, but by and large, kids aren’t doing well. Mine sure isn’t. Just remember: the principles of child development haven’t just vanished because we’re in a pandemic. It’s still not good to have our kids in front of the screen for hours upon hours every day. Kids still need to learn alongside other kids and still need to play with other kids. What I’m saying is, there’s no amount of improvement of distance learning you can do that will make it be a good platform for learning.

    I’ve seen the most absurd justifications from unions and their allies for why we shouldn’t reopen schools, like denying there’s any learning loss associated with distance learning or suggesting parents can be adequate substitutes for teachers. I mean, it’s so incredibly tone-deaf and ridiculous: they are devaluing their own profession just so as not to go back to the classroom! If parents or anyone else could fill in so easily, why should we pay teachers more? Why should we value them as professionals? Real valuing of your profession means admitting remote learning is a poor substitute for face-to-face, interpersonal contact and that parents can’t do teachers’ jobs, and trying to get back to that as soon as possible.

    I also want to bring up an ugly aspect of this whole debate: the ways unions have played the race card and presumed to speak for Black and Brown families. As an advocate for reopening schools I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen union reps and supporters say it’s only white, wealthy parents who want to reopen and that we are racist to want this. First, it is false that only white parents want to reopen. White parents do tend to trust the school districts more than Black and Latino families do, with good reason — white kids get treated better and go to better funded schools. So naturally, we tend to favor reopening, as we trust it can be done safely.
    However, we can’t just ignore the role of white teachers in this dynamic.

    In this country, teachers are around 80% white — something people don’t talk about. So why is it that when white parents support reopening it’s racist and we don’t care about Black and Brown kids (which, PS, my own kid isn’t white!), but when mostly white teachers unions advocate for their interests, they’re representing what Black and Brown families want? The reality is, neither white parents nor white teachers can speak for Black and Latino families.

    I’ve never spent so much unpaid labor and time advocating for an issue and I’ve never been so convinced that I was doing the right thing — not just for my own kid, but for all kids. Nothing has made me want to leave this country more than this issue, especially as I’ve seen all of Europe put kids first. How can we possibly accept that most kids in private schools are back in their classrooms while public school kids suffer from depression and fall behind? How can we think it’s ok for urban districts with majority Brown and Black kids to abandon their duty to these kids for going on a year and possibly much longer, all because teachers unions refuse to do what all other essential workers have done for 11 months? There is no such thing as zero risk (what they’re demanding), and a harm reduction approach means we must do what’s best for the most people, which is to open schools.

    Lastly, for those parents who don’t want to send your kids back yet for whatever reason: we have no desire to force you to go back. We honestly don’t care if you decide to stay remote — that’s your decision. But to side with the unions and advocate for keeping schools closed until the teachers “feel” it’s safe (which is a constantly moving goal post), and NOT when public health officials decide it’s safe (as they already have) is actively harmful to kids, and frankly selfish. You will continue to have a choice — so give us the choice as well to send our kids back to school.

    7
  73. Meh meh people of color meh meh teachers are scared.
    Look at Europe. Asia. You think they have all new sparkling schools?
    My kids are absolutely screwed for the next 25 years.
    And just wait until people of color start dying of diabetes, kidney issues, heart failure, renal failure and other diseases because they couldn’t see doctors.
    Or more likely, gunshot wounds – see: ages of criminals in buckhead.
    I am sick of Dekalb owning the narrative and effectively screwing our children. As usual.
    Dr Joyce blames the Whites. Okay.

    4
  74. Concerned as well

    @concerned citizen I really understand your concerns. I hope you will understand mine. I am over 65 years old with underlying medical issues. I have not left my home since March with a few exceptions such as food and medical appointments. If we want to follow the science, CDC recommends that teachers like me stay home until we have been fully vaccinated. Did you know that 1/4 of American teachers are over 55?

    I have taken leave that will eventually be unpaid but I still take care of my students because in dekalb county there are no subs and I care about my kids.

    One more thing everyone needs to understand. Dekalb County has made a decision to have hybrid education. What that means for the children is that they will still be in front of a computer all day whether in school or at home. There will be no pods, no partners, and little opportunity for socializing that students are used to and crave.

    I don’t believe that parents are capable of doing what teachers can , but please remember that the children are your responsibility ultimately. I am here to help, but not to be abused or disrespected by parents or anyone in the community who thinks they know what teachers should do. My challenge to everyone is if they think teaching is a snap, come into our classrooms and take over for a week or a day or even a few hours. You can deal with the bureaucracy that keeps us from planning lessons and grading assignments. You can have the endless conversations with parents who cannot accept their children aren’t doing anything, or they tell us they can’t make the children do their work, or they reach out at the end of the year and beg for extra work for the children to bring up their grades because they have done almost nothing all semester.

    18
  75. Concerned Citizen

    I’ll repeat what Marie, a mother of a 13-year-old boy, said about schools not reopening: “It’s criminal. It’s gotten to the point where it’s criminal.”

    Here’s why she said “it’s criminal” that’s schools aren’t reopening: She saw the emptiness in her 13-year-old son’s face, a blank expression void of personality.

    On a Thursday in early December, she immediately knew something was wrong. And he told her as much: he had been thinking of suicide. All day. Over and over and over.

    She didn’t know what to do, so she called 911. She was directed to a San Diego-area emergency room. During intake, a doctor asked her son if he had a plan to kill himself. He did.

    “He was going to take a toaster into a bathtub full of water and end his life. Everything left me when I heard him say that. Everything. Every ounce of everything.”

    “I’m paranoid when he’s in his room alone to walk up the stairs and find him hanging in the closet. That’s my visual. That’s my reality right now.”

    Kristine Brady, a private practice psychologist in the North County area of San Diego, said being out of school for going on a year “has been incredibly detrimental” to students.

    Younger kids learn by interacting with the world, she said. Older kids, who think more abstractly, need peers to bounce their thoughts and ideas off of. Developmentally, they are supposed to be separating from their parents.

    Over the last year Brady said she’s noticed an uptick in parents and even kids themselves reaching out for help. “I’ve never had boys actually seek out therapy, 13-year-old boys,” she said.

    It’s good they’re asking for help, she said, but the pandemic limits her treatment options.

    “What they need most, the treatment for depression is behavior activation, which is getting out there, interacting, especially with friends,” she said.

    2
  76. Reason Why Buildings are Closed Today

    Is it abundance of caution or avoiding major embarrassment of HVAC heating units failing?

    14
  77. Teachers aren’t therapists...

    Concerned Citizen,

    Teachers aren’t licensed therapists, and we certainly don’t get paid like them. If a child is experiencing mental health issues during this time, there are tons of resources that parents can look into, or they can contact licensed professionals. Teachers have licenses to teach, and that’s what we’ve been doing. If kids need therapy, fill the schools with therapists. At least Brian Kemp actually saw it fit to vaccinate them. I’ll reiterate what so many have already said: Teachers are NOT required to get sick and die for our students. We are their teachers, not their parents. We have our own families and our own children to think about, and we put them first. I know it’s a foreign concept since everyone is used to demanding ridiculous things from us with little to no pushback, but I’m glad we’re finally saying “NO!” Teachers have been kicked around and taken advantage of by people who don’t respect us for far too long.

    39
  78. To Dr. Watson-Harris and others:

    For the parents, community members, and Dr. Watson-Harris (because I’m sure she reads this blog)–

    I’d like to explain what we’re seeing around the country and why teachers are so disgusted and adamant about not returning (besides the threat of contracting a deadly virus). It’s pretty obvious that most of the community members and parents on this board have absolutely no clue what it takes to become a teacher, so let me explain a few things. In order for one to become a teacher, you have to complete a four year degree. Teachers take the same classes as any of you with degrees, but we also have to take additional classes to learn how to teach content. So, not only do we take the same classes as many of you, we also have to take classes so we can learn to TEACH that content. After obtaining those college degrees, we have to pay money out of our own pockets to take tests to prove that we know the content AND that we know how to teach it. Want to teach Calculus? Pay money to sit down for a 4 hour test to prove that you’re an expert in the subject AND that you know how to teach it. Each test outside of the basic exam costs additional time and money that teachers willingly spend so we can teach YOUR kids. So, it should go without saying that TEACHERS ARE NOT STUPID, we NOT lazy, and we are NOT selfish.

    After we get our certifications, we are thrown into the classroom with hardly any support or help. It’s literally sink or swim. We spend time outside of our contract hours planning, reviewing data, collecting data, reviewing curriculum, writing/planning curriculum units, researching materials, etc.. It takes HOURS to plan a day’s worth of lessons, and that’s even before we step foot in front of your kids. The teachers who’ve been teaching for longer than a couple of years have a wealth of knowledge in school and classroom operations. We know how to think quickly on our feet, deal with unexpected occurrences, manage multiple people at one time, review/analyze data, etc.. If you add up all the years of teaching and classroom experience of DeKalb teachers, you’d have several centuries’ worth of experience. I’d venture to guess that is the case in every school district in this county.

    Yet and still, when it came time to make decisions about OUR jobs, OUR safety, and OUR health, WE were not consulted! These districts, including DeKalb’s board and superintendent, bypassed thousands of subject matter experts who have hundreds of years of classroom experience combined, and didn’t bother to even ask us what they’d need to do to make sure we felt safe in our own classrooms (that stupid survey doesn’t count). They completely disregarded us. They LIED to us, and made us seem irrational about our fears of the virus, despite the fact that teachers are well-versed in biology and we fully understand how viruses spread. They forced reopening plans on us that we could immediately see weren’t feasible, BASED ON THE YEARS OF CLASSROOM EXPERIENCE WE HAVE, and then vilified us for not trusting their plans. I went into teaching knowing that some people don’t respect us, but I absolutely expect and DEMAND respect from the higher-ups who work in this field. What they’ve done to teachers is absolutely disrespectful. What you’re seeing now is an entire profession that is fed up with the disrespect. I’m tired of people who barely graduated from high school trying to tell me how to do my job. I’m tired of people who haven’t set foot in a classroom since they were in school trying to tell me how to do my job. I hope teachers stay angry. I hope teachers continue to demand respect. It’s time for the way this country treats its teachers to change. Otherwise, these other countries who actually VALUE U.S. teachers will continue to lure us away with better pay, better healthcare packages, and much more respect than what we receive here.

    28
  79. RegularCitizen

    Who is ultimately in charge of our schools getting new HVACs? Kemp?

    3
  80. For the record...

    Watson-Harris is NOT a Dr. To refer to her as such is disrespectful to those people who put in the money, time and effort it took to actually earn that title.

    10
  81. To Cheryl Watson-Harris and others:

    For the record:

    I did not realize that she’s not even a doctor. That’s interesting. It also makes her actions even more disappointing and disrespectful considering the fact that DeKalb has teachers, principals and school personnel with doctorates. She has no doctorate, she’s not from Georgia, and she still didn’t deem it necessary to ask us (the people who actually work in the school buildings) what we’d need to feel safe enough for F2F instruction. Now, she’s turned this entire situation into a huge fight and a big ol’ clusterf**k. Wow.

    11
  82. FWIW, I don’t care a bit whether the DCSD Superintendent has a doctorate or not. DCSD’s experience with prior superintendents with doctorates shows that the degree is no guarantee of a good job (remember Dr. Cheryl Atkinson? Dr. Stephen Green?).

    I think it may be a good thing that the current Superintendent isn’t from Georgia, since DCSD has been plagued by “Friends and Family” issues for so long.

    She certainly should be including teachers in her decision making, and believing teachers and/or checking out what teachers tell her. I can’t imagine why she wouldn’t, except perhaps that she is used to dealing with teachers’ Unions in New York and has no experience in listening to teachers rather than Union officials.

    She needs to find out who in her staff at the Palace is honest and who isn’t, and who has lost sight of what is really important and is just along for the paycheck.

    15
  83. waitingforgodot

    I think the more interesting part of this doctorate discussion is the fact that she’s been pursuing it while running Georgia’s third largest school district during a pandemic.

    Always thought it was strange that she and the board thought she could manage finishing a doctorate and lead a new school district with the ever-changing needs of Covid.

    It’s announced in the about Mrs. Watson-Harris section on the school’s website.

    6
  84. To Cheryl Watson-Harris and others:

    The thing about the doctorate wouldn’t bother me so much if she wasn’t so flagrant in her disregard for teachers’ and administrators’ input. Doctorates in education prepare educators to be leaders and to run school districts. The fact is, she has plenty of people at the school level who do have doctorates and experience running schools in GA, and she chose not to consult them. These are her teachers and her principals that she chose not to consult in a situation that needed as many people as possible coming up with a viable plan. I think her being from GA would have helped her better understand the politics and school culture down here because it’s a very different ballgame. I do think the comment about her being used to dealing with unions instead of teachers is valid, and I can understand that. It still doesn’t make this situation less infuriating, but it does make it a little more understandable. On Stephen Green—I received my first significant pay increase under his tenure (after working for the county for a decade). I lost at least half of that pay within a few months of Watson-Harris taking over. So, that’s all I’ll say about him.

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  85. Has anyone heard how many staff have been quarantined this week?

    5
  86. Can anyone share real numbers, not anecdotes, about increases in failures? As a teacher I am not seeing a significant uptick in failures in my class, even using the same assessments in a digital space.

    4
  87. # of youth suicides in Georgia were down to 24 in 2020 from 59 in 2019. https://www.google.com/amp/s/thecurrentga.org/2020/12/15/gbi-report-shows-drop-in-georgias-youth-suicide-rate-during-pandemic/

    Seems like increased family time might be a protective factor?

    15
  88. DSW2Contributor

    In the Letters to the Editor section of The Champion:
    —————————————————————
    Parent demands DeKalb schools go back to virtual learning after disastrous return to classrooms
    February 18, 2021

    I’m writing as a concerned parent of two students in DeKalb County Schools, as well as a community member concerned for the health, safety, and wellbeing of our teachers, staff, and larger community.

    The recent mandate to return teachers to the classroom has been nothing short of disastrous. I am a member of an online group in which teachers are anonymously sharing the conditions they’ve faced over the past few weeks. Across the district, teachers are dealing with buildings that have clearly not been cleaned since March 2020, despite claims of “deep cleaning” on the part of the Board of Education. Teachers report air filters so caked with dust and debris that no air circulation can occur. We know that one of the best mitigation strategies for COVID is proper ventilation and air circulation, so why has this not been a priority? Further, many teachers report lack of heat — or too much heat! — in their buildings, and non-functioning thermostats. I’ve witnessed my kids’ teachers bundled up during live, virtual classes, which indicates there is little or no heat in the building. This is inhumane and nonsensical. Teachers also report malfunctioning computers, lack of internet access, and poor wifi at schools, whereas they were able to teach effectively and reliably from home. Finally, teachers have received little to no PPE, and what they have received is, frankly, insulting. A few paper towels? Some wet wipes?

    I have been pleased with DeKalb County schools up until a few months ago. I’ve been proud to send my kids to school here and have looked forward to them continuing their education through completion in DeKalb. These last two months, though, have left me shocked. The utter disregard the Board of Education has shown for the health and safety of teachers leaves me feeling disgusted. I never thought I would consider pulling my kids from the DeKalb County school system, but do I really want them learning that this is an acceptable way to treat people? That their teachers — the people who (in addition to their parents) are helping to guide them to become intelligent, responsible humans — are to be treated like something disposable?

    I know we all look forward to an eventual return to a traditional school setting. This year has been immensely hard on everyone, my family included. However, we cannot simply send people back into school buildings that are inadequate. There has already been one death of a staff person in DeKalb, at Henderson Middle School. How many more people are we willing to sacrifice? What type of lesson does that teach our children?

    I’ve contacted the DeKalb County Board of Education in the past with requests. Now, I have a demand. Delay face-to-face school reopening until fall 2021. Ensure that all teachers have been vaccinated, that school buildings are actually up to a functioning condition, that cleaning has actually taken place, and that adequate PPE is provided. If you start now, you’ve got 6 months to get it right.

    Amber Rhea
    Atlanta

    http://thechampionnewspaper.com/news/local/parent-demands-dekalb-schools-go-back-to-virtual-learning-after-disastrous-return-to-classrooms/

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  89. DSW2Contributor

    In the AJC:
    —————————————————————————————————-
    DeKalb superintendent plans state of the school district address

    The DeKalb County School District will hold a “state of the district” address Tuesday presented by superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris.

    Watson-Harris is planning to discuss how school leaders and staff are “elevating the DCSD experience to a new standard of excellence,” according to a district newsletter. The presentation will be drive-in event in the parking lot at 4550 Greer Circle in Stone Mountain.

    The parking lot opens at 4:15 p.m. and the program will begin at 5:30 p.m.

    https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/dekalb-superintendent-plans-state-of-the-school-district-address/6KFITMZKBRESTPVWUATP73JPLA/
    —————————————————————————————————-

  90. DSW2Contributor

    Also in the AJC:
    ————————————————————————————————
    DeKalb teacher: For our safety, some of us should work from home

    Teacher three months from retirement says district is not moving quickly enough on leave requests

    Cynthia L. McGee is an ESOL interventionist at DeKalb’s Dresden Elementary School. In this guest column, she shares her disappointment with the DeKalb County School District’s stance on telework for teachers who have pending leave requests.

    McGee says a district staffer told her, “No one will be approved for telework.”

    In a statement about DeKalb’s work-at-home/telework policy provided to me today, a district spokeswoman said:
    —————————————-
    DCSD does not have a telework option. FMLA (The Family and Medical Leave Act) is for requesting leave. It is not an approval process for teleworking. ADA (The Americans with Disabilities Act) is for requesting accommodations based on job duties and responsibilities. If the employee’s condition requires them to remain at home and they are eligible, they may request FMLA.
    —————————————-

    In an AJC story, DeKalb Schools reporter Wilborn P. Nobles III reported:
    —————————————-
    DeKalb County School officials said this week they are reviewing 533 pending requests from employees, including teachers, who have sought work accommodations for work during the coronavirus pandemic.

    The remaining requests were discussed during a board of education meeting this week. Michelle Jones, the DeKalb County School District interim chief of Human Resources, said they’re asking principals to give staff temporary accommodations as they develop a plan for the requests. Jones said they only had one person reviewing requests, but their team has recently expanded.
    —————————————-

    With that background, here is McGee’s column.

    https://www.ajc.com/education/get-schooled-blog/dekalb-teacher-for-our-safety-some-of-us-should-work-from-home/OHSBDPQDINFA5PTP2RYBBGDE5A/

    2
  91. DSW2Contributor

    Georgia DPH data for Dekalb County, Thursday, February 18, 2021:

    PCR Cases (last two weeks): 2,375
    PCR Cases per 100K (last two weeks): 299
    PCR % Positive (last two weeks): 7.3%

    % PCR Tests Positive: 12.8
    7-day moving average: 7.9

  92. The county lies. The column about Cynthia McGee who is 3 months from retiring could’ve been written by me. Everything she says is true. I am one teacher who absolutely should be allowed to telework, but the county prefers our children to be without a teacher than to allow me to telework. It’s absolutely disgusting that the values of the superintendent and the board are contrary to the best interest of the children. She should be fired and the board should be recalled. There is clearly no one there who has the common sense of a sack of hair. There must be some way to get this corrosive presence in our county. Let her go back to New York. No, actually they don’t deserve having that kind of a problem.

    We need to report the county for ADA violations and start a class action suit for those violations. Dekalb is used to losing a class action suit. In my situation it is lose lose. I lose money and the children lose their education. Good job cheerleader!! Good oversight Dekalb board of education. You deserve each other but we don’t deserve any of you.

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  93. DSW2Contributor

    Fox 5:
    ——————————————————————
    DeKalb County school employees concerned about potential COVID-19 exposure

    A DeKalb County school nurse says she was exposed to COVID-19 shortly after returning to a school campus.

    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. – Nurse Bonnie asked us not to reveal her identity, but the veteran DeKalb County school nurse said she was told to quarantine after school officials learned she was exposed to a colleague who tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

    “I’ve been at home since March and my very first day that we go back in, I’m exposed. It’s frustrating and I’m angry and I don’t think what’s happening is right. I don’t think anybody should be put in the position to choose between their job and their life and that’s where we are now,” said Nurse Bonnie.

    Nurse Bonnie told FOX 5’s Portia Bruner she has no coranavirus releated symptoms, feels fine and plans to get tested for closer to her return-to-work date. But she said some employees feel like they have to go to work even if they feel sick. She believes that’s how she was exposed to the virus,” she said.

    “They say they want you to stay home from work. That is what everybody is saying, but if you have a supervisor saying you can’t be off work and you have to come in to work. If you want your job, you’re coming to work,” said Nurse Bonnie.

    https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/dekalb-county-school-employees-concerned-about-potential-covid-19-exposure

    8
  94. Region 1 Teacher

    I heard from a friend who teaches at Peachtree Middle School in Dunwoody that there was an announcement late yesterday afternoon that there would be no heat in the building today due to maintenance on the HVAC system. The announcement was made over the PA system instead of email presumably because the Principal doesn’t want a digital record. Teachers were not offered a remote workday but instead were told to “dress warmly.”

    As you probably know, space heaters are not allowed in classrooms because of fire hazard. According to the WSB Weather app, it is currently 35 degrees in Dunwoody with a forecast high of 46 at 4:00 pm. This seems a perfect metaphor for the District’s utter contempt for Faculty and Staff and their irrational compulsion to follow the edicts of “Dear Leader the Cheerleader.”

    10
  95. Concerned Citizen

    One death is a tragedy; 24 youth suicides is a statistic, eh?

    https://www.forsythnews.com/life/people/it-was-so-well-hidden-family-remembers-daniel-dudgeon-after-suicide-death/

    I quote another parent under similar circumstances regarding school board members, school administrators, and teachers: “My kids deserve better than this violent and uncaring bunch of bullies.”

    And because they do deserve better, we are leaving DeKalb County. I’m 100% positive that this will make quite a few readers happy, but it won’t make you as happy as I am to leave a toxic and corrupt school system with zero regard for ethics, honesty, or student achievement. ¡Adios!

    4
  96. What would you call the death of school workers, a statistic or a tragedy?

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, “concerned citizen.”

    5
  97. Billboard Parents

    So, I just saw something that made me chuckle. Remember when we (DeKalb teachers) said that we’d be comfortable returning if we had proper ppe, required mask-wearing, weekly testing for staff and students, and plexiglass partitions around our desks? Remember when we were called unreasonable, whiny, entitled, etc. by the parents? Well, it looks like the APS billboard parents came to this blog and read what the DeKalb teachers wrote, because that’s exactly what they’re doing in APS. At least those billboard parents had more than demands and insults, and actually took the time to listen to what teachers were saying. The billboard parents in DeKalb should take notes.

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  98. Yesterday afternoon, after being completely ignored with Zero communication since March 2020, (former) Substitute Teachers received an email “survey” from HR. In that email was a list of most Dekalb County schools by name. We were to check off two schools that we would commit to for the rest of the current school year. No “start” dates were provided. They just wanted to know who would come back to sub for teachers and vacancies. I responded with a question, asking when Subs would be trained on the virtual learning software so we could actually be helpful. I received a response quickly, with a computer link for Subs to train themselves on virtual software. Unreal! I imagine that few Subs from the “active” list that existed in March 2020 responded. Again, no return date was provided, Subs only make $11.88 per hour, we should train ourselves (unpaid) on the virtual learning software, but we may or may not be called upon by either of the two specific schools the “survey” asks Subs to commit to??

    6
  99. DSW2Contributor

    From today’s “Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials ”
    —————————————————————————————————-
    MODERATOR: Next, we’ll go to Cheyenne Haslett at ABC News.

    Q Hi, thanks for doing this. Thanks. On school openings, my question is about 75 percent of schools that are currently located in the red zones, which the CDC guidelines recommend be hybrid or virtual. So, I’m wondering how, in April, just about two months from now, the President intends to make good on that promise of full-time in-person schooling.

    ACTING ADMINISTRATOR SLAVITT: Well, thanks for that question. And I think that that question actually allows us to clarify a few things, and I want to turn to Dr. Walensky to do that.

    DR. WALENSKY: Yeah, thank you for that question. The first thing I just want to convey is there are opportunities for in-person learning at all stages — all states of community spread.

    As we’ve seen community spread coming down and as we’ve seen our numbers improving right now, what I would invite the schools to do — we have actually seen many more communities leave the red zone and move into the orange zone, which actually has more opportunities for in-school opening and for in-person learning. So, our numbers are coming down, and I would actually invite schools to lean in and to look at what is needed so that — in the roadmap, to try and get more and more children back to school.

    ACTING ADMINISTRATOR SLAVITT: And I want to just clarify something you said because it’s so important, Dr. Walensky. Is it possible, if you are in the red zone, even if things are improving, is it possible to open schools under the CDC’s guidance?

    DR. WALENSKY: Absolutely. So, in the areas that remain red — and there are about two thirds of districts now, although the numbers continue to climb — in the numbers that remain red, we say, with universal masking and physical distancing and de-densification of classrooms, there are opportunities for in-person learning, as well as for middle and high school learning, and assuming you’re able to do the de-densification that we suggest.

    ACTING ADMINISTRATOR SLAVITT: Great. And I think that’s a really important clarification.

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2021/02/19/press-briefing-by-white-house-covid-19-response-team-and-public-health-officials-5/

    —————————————————————————————————-

  100. DSW2Contributor

    CDC Director Dr. Walensky: “we say, with universal masking and physical distancing and de-densification of classrooms, there are opportunities for in-person learning, as well as for middle and high school learning, and assuming you’re able to do the de-densification that we suggest.”
    —————————————

    The only way DCSD can “de-densification” itself is to completely redistrict the entire school district.

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