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. Jennifer Madison

    Thanks for posting. Stan- can you clarify the February calendar? Does it mean that beginning the week of February 8, all students who have chosen to go back to school in person will be attending 4 days a week? Cohorts A and B will both be on the same schedule?

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  2. Hello @Jennifer. It looks like students from all grades levels may choose to be in school 4 days a week.

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  3. DeKalbsLeadershipSucks

    Well. It looks like minority got what they wanted regardless of the cost to others. I’m sure all the parents on the north side are happy. I’m sure some others are too but we know who was really doing the complaining and they got their way. No longer looking at the science or data. Wonderful.

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  4. Jennifer Madison

    @ Stan- Thanks- that’s what I thought- I was just surprised to see the two groups being mixed together that quickly… Thanks!

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  5. Thanks for keeping us informed, Stan.

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  6. ConcernedHusband

    I don’t understand why Dekalb is doing this. I completely understand the need to adopt updated guidelines (100 cases per 100k to >10% positivity rate). What is difficult for me to grasp is the SUDDEN change. This has created a great deal of anxiety and concern among staff throughout the county. I can only assume that the decisions to change the metric began before Thanksgiving break internally. I don’t think anyone, during the internal discussions, anticipated the numbers to be as alarming as they have been in the last few weeks. This is similar to the October plan where the 100 cases per 100k threshold was crossed, plans created for return to school and then the national increase (which was known about) finally caught up and those plans were delayed.

    Change the metric, defend the metric and allow time for teachers and staff to mentally and organizationally prepare for what is imminent by saying “IF we are <10% positivity by X date then we will begin phase 1". It seems as though Dekalb just wasn't prepared for this spike and published these plans accordingly. I'm hopeful someone will regroup and consume the alarming data that is emerging daily and reconsider the currently outlined planned.

    Parents have options of remaining remote and if they choose Face to Face that won't begin until 1/19. Unfortunately teachers and staff are required to report on 1/4 and I simply don't see the positivity rate falling below 10% because the trend is going in the wrong direction. There's a change by 1/19 it will be below 10% but not 1/4.

    This plan/change is not being handled well and a lot of it was just poor timing, but I do believe it could have been handled MUCH better and a lot of headaches for a lot of people avoided. If you're driving and know there's a broken bridge a long way ahead you should likely consider a new route rather than continuing down the same path in hopes that it's repaired before your arrival!!

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  7. Today’s Concern

    Stan,

    How will this work with special education students who receive services from providers who typically move between different schools, let alone different teams within a school (e.g. Deaf/Hard of Hearing teachers, SLPs, OTs, etc). We know that the kids with special needs require additional support, but they are also the kids who have disproportionately adverse outcomes if they get COVID. How can the schools protect our kids with special needs?

    Please don’t say that this comes down to the different schools and principals. 1) it always sounds like you’re dodging the question, and 2) These professionals typically work at the county level!

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  8. Heading to the DPRK

    @ DeKalbsLeadershipSucks
    Yeah, you are right. I guess all those parents and educators who want students to succeed in life and actually value education got what they wanted, whether they are republicans or Democrats, Black or White, Jew or Gentile
    Why couldn’t they have listened to those of us who like the idea of suicides being at all time record, unemployment soaring, and society collapsing?
    Our fears of getting sick and possibly dying due to our preexisting morbid obesity and our fear of other people should have overridden everyone else!
    We need another lockdown so that we can fully transition into a police state. We need to empower the police to use lethal force to stop all the haters, bigots, racists, trumpists, and crackers who refuse to wear masks and beat anyone not obeying
    DeKalb leadership is failing by not listening to people like us.
    It’s time to leave this shit show county an d move somewhere with a decent government that really cares.

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  9. Frustrated Teacher

    What was the point of explaining the new decision-making tree during Monday’s town hall to then immediately ignore that decision making tree by committing to these January dates? The decision making tree based on test positivity rates does not appear on the DCSD website, nor was it sent out to teachers.

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  10. Why are we still pretending Wednesdays matter? If students are back for 4 days a week this year are they ever going back to 5 days? Also how does this apply to the minimum of 180 days of education? 30 states require 180 days while 11 are between 160-179… how is this acceptable on any level?

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  11. Undetermined if we’ll every go back to 5 days a week. I believe DeKalb Schools has a waiver for the 180 days a year of instruction. Wednesdays could be considered an asynchronous learning day.

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  12. Those complaining about the parents on the NORTH SIDE (as if this is an old school East vs. West coast rap battle) need to consider the fact that Watson-Harris might have seen the number of parents pulling their kids for home schooling, private, etc. and realized her funding would disappear once the state and feds noticed. She can’t support her salary, plus her new car, this awesome marketing firm and any other side expenses we don’t know about without a full complement of tax payer money. Teachers and students are being scarified for $$$$, it will be hard to tell me otherwise.

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  13. The numbers are way to high to have 12 month (Central Ofc) staff return to work. Our cubicles are not 6 ft apart and there are no windows to open at the AIC and the ventilation system is poor. DCSD is setting themselves up for a lot of issues later on. I understand that we can’t stay home forever, and that is impossible to please everyone in a situation like this. However, what is the sense of urgency!! Why are the 12 month staff being asked to come back in when we have nothing to do with teaching. I have much respect for teachers but it was not my chosen profession. All I’m saying is that the 12 mo staff working from home is not going to affect the classroom or the students, so why cant we continue to work from home until the numbers are lower?!??

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  14. Resignation Questions

    Stan,

    I still cannot get clear, definitive answers about resignation. Nobody is responding to emails or phone calls. This all feels VERY shady. I’ve already contacted TRS to pull out my retirement to hold me over until I can find a new job, but I need to know what repercussions there are for resigning if I do not feel safe going back. Watson-Harris claimed that she’d be “compassionate” but based on what we’re seeing and how little they’re communicating with staff, I highly doubt that. Are you able to provide any answers? Teachers and other staff are not receiving these answers from admin or the county office.

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  15. I understand the impact virtual learning is having on our child (educationally and socially). I know we’re not alone and I can’t imagine what this is like for the teachers. But as cases are rapidly increasing and will undoubtedly spike after the holidays AND as we enter flu season AND with a COVID vaccine on the horizon… this seems like either an incredibly stupid or incredibly ignorant decision. I would much prefer to put up with another semester of virtual learning to help insure that our students, teachers, and family members are alive and well to start the 2021-22 school year off in person.

    While I appreciate DCSD’s focus on the CDC’s five key mitigation strategies. These mitigation strategies are one (1) of three (3) core indicators that CDC recommends school districts consider when making decisions regarding reopening. DCSD ignores the other two indicators (14 day average case count and % positivity) :

    – The number of new cases per 100k in the last 14 days. > 200 is considered high risk. DeKalb has been seeing steady increases and is current at 492 / 100K.

    – The percentage of positive cases: > 10% is considered high risk. DeKalb is currently at 11.6% and it is naïve to expect that both the number of cases and the positivity rate will not increase following the inevitable holiday gatherings.

    They also talk about a phased reopening. This implies a data driven model based on a risk assessment. In Phase II, they stagger the cohorts in accordance with generally accepted guidelines. This is intended to interrupt wide spread transmission should a case be identified. One would expect that the move to Phase III would occur when levels in the community decrease (i.e. there is a lower risk of transmission). However it seems that the only criteria for moving to Phase III is waiting 14 days from when Phase II started.

    The letter from DCSD makes no mention of regularly monitoring the situation, modifying things based on public health guidance, etc. They initially promised that these decisions would be based on science and data. Phase II and III should be data driven. Not based on arbitrary points on the calendar. There is no evidence or data justifying the move from Phase I to Phase II or Phase II to Phase III.

    Perhaps these questions were raised at the town hall but for those of us who weren’t there, they need to address some basics.

    DCSD is offering families the opportunity to modify their return to school choice by January 8, however there’s limited information upon which to base this decision. In the letter from DCSD (paragraph 2), it states that school specific protocols, areas of concern, and check lists were developed. Is it possible to share these with the parents? These should be widely available to parents.

    Parents cannot make an informed decision unless they know: What routine safety / screening protocols will be in place? How will specific areas of concern be remediated (at our school the first thing that comes to mind is the antiquated HVAC system)? What will the school day look like, will the children be sitting behind plexiglass desk partitions all day? Will interaction within the cohort be allowed? Will connections (art, science, PE) occur in the homeroom? What should parents expect if a student within the cohort (or the teacher) tests positive – will they revert to virtual learning for two weeks or something different?

    While it would be good to set expectation for everyone, will the district take the opportunity in early January (while we are still 100% virtual) to reiterate the expectations masking, social distancing requirements etc, particularly for ESL students who may not have heard (or recently heard) the guidance in Spanish? Similarly, is there some provision to help students who cannot afford or access face coverings obtain them?

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  16. Hello @AIC STAFF, When employees are sitting in their cubicles, are the employees themselves 6 ft apart? Also, isn’t there a cubicle wall between the employees? So … you have nothing to do with teaching? I’ll leave that one alone.

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  17. Where does Dr. Morley stand on all of this? We need her guidance in these times of need.

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  18. Hello @Resignation Questions. I don’t have a confirmation on how resignations will be treated. From the comments on this blog, it seems that teachers are being told that they cannot quit without consequences. It will be very trying if teachers resign, so I don’t anticipate the administration making it easy.

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  19. Frustrated Floater

    Stan: I am still in the dark about floating teachers. When I’ve asked administration, I’ve received a ton of vague answers like “we’ll have to see what can be done” and “we have to use the space we have” leading me to believe that I will be REQUIRED to use another teacher’s space. If I don’t have my own space, I should be allowed to teach remotely. The district needs to address this, because the principals don’t have the answers.

    Please figure out a solution to this…my school is too small to have classrooms for every teacher, and while I am ok sharing an office trailer with one other adult, I don’t feel great about having to use 3 or 4 different teacher’s learning spaces to teach my students. Plus the fact that it is certainly going to be hard to find a teacher who is going to let someone else into their space in the first place. Please, please, please give guidance to give us peace of mind.

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  20. Resignation Questions

    Thank you, Stan. You’re the only person who’s actually attempted to answer that question. The answer is truly disappointing, but it at least gives me an idea of what I need to do.

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  21. DSW2Contributor

    Resignations: PAGE says that the PSC will recommend a 90 day suspension to your certificate if you break your contract:
    https://www.pageinc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Contract_Nov_2012.pdf

    I am *not* a lawyer nor do I speak for PAGE.

    That said, one strategy to consider would be to resign, self-report yourself to the PSC and ask that you be allowed to begin your 90-day suspension immediately. If the PSC agreed, you would be able to be hired again in August, after you had been vaccinated, and Lord knows we’re going to need all the teachers we can get then!

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  22. Resignation Questions

    DSW2Contributor,

    Thank you!!!

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  23. DSW2Contributor

    ^ Please, please, please talk to PAGE and your own attorney before doing anything!

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  24. Y’all, we will just have to walk after this school year. Leave the teaching profession and never look back. Many other professions love having teachers as employees because we are hard working, organized, prompt, and creative. Leave, leave, leave. You do have other options. You are not stuck here being treated like trash. They want to threaten you, fine. But they can’t keep you here like a prisoner next school year. All the counties are pretty much the same. It’s not much better in other school systems or states. If you go private, you get paid peanuts :(.

    “66% of teachers want to leave their job and 41.3% of new teachers leave the profession within the first 5 years. Teachers also suffer from higher than average rates of drug and alcohol use. At any given point in time, 36.4% are likely to quit.”

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  25. So the first week back is cohort A then B, second week is B then A, third week is back to A then B. And throw in just one Wednesday that won’t be a work day (20th). Why are we making this as complicated and confusing as possible? (not that anything about any of this makes sense or follows a logical plan…..but COME ON) Good luck to parents trying to figure out child care! Or elementary teachers trying to teach the days of the week…HA

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  26. Are these dates set in stone, regardless of the positivity percentages? It is very confusing to have a floating metric and a solid calendar at the same time. I can understand the need to proceed regardless, but why introduce a metric? Also – Why do I, as an employee, feel the need to come to your blog to get clarification on matters that should be clearly communicated to all stakeholders? Dekalb needs some help with its PR and communication.

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  27. Someone commented about the north siders getting their way. I know I speak for a TON of Northsiders who think this is absolutely crazy! Teachers are in Phase 1B for vaccine which will be SOON! We should wait until they are given the opportunity to vaccinate at the very least. And what about those safety protocols? Are masks going to be required as part of dress code? Are they going to send people home for not wearing masks same as they do for girls wearing tank tops or crop tops? Anything less than that is unacceptable. And YES they can. And YES that should. Kids will do what is expected of them, especially is there are consequences for noncompliance (like not being able to play sport/do extracurriculars, ISS, etc.) I get the problems with virtual learning, but the kids are learning–even if its nothing more than life skills such as how to conduct themselves virtually. All these F2F people need to get on board with basic infection control–including not sending your sick kid to school or lying about symptoms, not discouraging testing to skew the numbers, and requiring your kids to wear masks at all times during school no matter what. I’ve had it with the selfishness of those who claim they care about people but only really care about themselves. When you’ve had a family member die of COVID unnecessarily like I have, then perhaps you might see why this is such an asinine plan. Kids transmit COVID to family members. That 1% (which is a false statistic anyway) is actually not a number. It is people, people. Loved ones who have died. Not a hoax. /endrant

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  28. Is the Board Meeting online?

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  29. Stan, there’s a court case coming isn’t there? The whole thing smells like the county realized that they are about to be sued and not going to win.

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  30. What the heck is a “Cohort”? How is that being defined and used?

  31. Henri P. de Vastey

    A long time ago, in a previous profession involving life and death, I learned that personal example was a key component of leadership. In that profession, the leader had to lead, at times, from the front at the risk of his/her life.

    I doubt very much that any of Dekalb County School District’s leaders ever contemplated or trained for making life and death decisions in their educational leadership courses.

    Here they are making life and death decisions for teachers and students. So be it!

    Let us see which of our leaders (everyone from superintendent to regional superintendents) will take the “point” on 19 January and demonstrate safety in a windowless classroom with 16 students from 7:45 AM to 3:00 PM for a full week. A collateral effect of these acts would be validation of their own confidence in the soundness and practicality of the plan– sort of using the very parachute they packed for the rest of us.

    After such courageous accomplishments, most teachers and support staff would rush to the classroom.
    At least, in that manner, we all would have an equal chance to be the Dekalb County School District’s “Henry Gunther” (who died at 10:59 AM on 11 November 1918) with vaccines within our grasp.

    Best wishes for the holidays,

    Henri de Vastey

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  32. Hello @AIC Staffer. I’m really happy to get your input. Thank you for your service to the community and for providing your input to this forum. If two employees are sitting in a cubicle, how many feet is it from the center of one employee’s chair to the center of the next employee’s chair? You make a valid point about virtual board meetings.

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  33. STAN:

    AIC Staffer here. Let me clarify. No, I don’t have anything to do with teaching in regards to being required to be face to face with children on a daily basis. Again, that is not my chosen profession.

    Actually, the person that sits across from me is not 6ft away. We are separated by a tiny aisle without a Panel. This is why they had come up with an A/B schedule – hybrid for when we return, but now it seems that the A/B schedule is no longer an option. So yea, its a concern.

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  34. @Alison, a cohort is a group of people with a common characteristic. The common characteristic here is their grade level. The schools are defining the cohorts and the cohorts will have an in school schedule. –Stan

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  35. Stan:

    I’m not sure but it seems to me like one grocery cart and 1/2 apart. Trust me, I miss my daily routine of going to work but not at the expense of my health and my families.

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  36. Meeting Minutes

    If there is anyone who hasn’t had a chance to meet with admin, here are a few things I learned from our meeting:

    1. DeKalb no longer cares about transmission or positivity rates. Regardless of how many people get sick or die, schools will remain open.
    2. Teachers are not allowed to bring children to work with them even if those children attend the school where the teacher works. If this does not work for you, you can submit your resignation.
    3. If you resign, you will be subject to being penalized by the GaPSC and you will lose your certification–which means you will never be able to work in this field again.
    4. There is currently no plan in place to address when teachers catch COVID or are exposed and forced to quarantine. However, all “floaters” have been put on notice that they will be required to cover the same class where the teacher was exposed or infected.
    5. No extra custodial staff will be hired. Teachers will be required to clean the buildings ourselves.
    6. The county is being very secretive about when they will approve leave, but it is highly unlikely that ADA leave requests will be granted. If you have breathing issues and are afraid of catching COVID, you’ll need to wear 3 or 4 masks at a time (yes….they actually said this).
    7. There must be a designated babysitter (i.e.: a teacher pulled from their own classroom to babysit) for students who are sick at school or who come on the wrong cohort day.
    8. They are not following CDC safety guidelines because it’s “impossible” at this point. Students will not be spaced 6 ft. apart in the classroom (or anywhere else in the school for that matter).
    9. It is completely up to the schools on how students will eat lunch, use the bathroom, etc., so there is no uniform plan.
    10. Students will be “strongly encouraged” to wear masks, but we cannot force them to wear one. If they choose not to wear one, they can go to the babysitting room.
    11. Teachers are resilient and strong, and they’re sure that “most” of us will come out on the other side of the crap show alive.
    12. P.S.: Have a great holiday break!!! Teachers are heroes!!!

    I hope this helps clear up any confusion.

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  37. Thanks Stan. I think I understnd “cohorts” a little more. Essentially, dividing up a school’s In-Person Elected kids who are in the same grades, into smaller groups, and each smaller group stays together in the same classroom all day?
    Where is it defined for parents?

  38. @Henri P. DeVastey: You are absolutely correct. Leaders show by example. In this example our leaders are proving that they care only about their own well being personally and financially and professionally, and school staff and the students are just numbers that can be easily replaced. I hope that they will be able to sleep at night with a clear conscience when they will be personally responsible for people having lifelong health issues due to their decisions, or when they lose their life because of the decisions of these heartless and immoral leaders.

    @Meeting Minutes only confirms further that when “our leaders” tell us that they appreciate all of our hard work and dedication, and that they respect us, that it is just a pack of lies. We are not fools; we see right through you. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

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  39. A Ship Run By Fools

    I’ll give it about a week before there are multiple outbreaks. Imagine, these myopic so-called leaders don’t think there will be an outlandish increase in covid cases because of the holidays. Guess they are smarter than the CDC.

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  40. Parents are Smarter than The ADMIN.

    I bet less than 30% of students opt for face-to-face. Especially when parents see the surge over Xmas and starts peaking when we go back. I spoke to 4 parents today. Zero are sending their kids back in Jan.

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  41. From what @Meeting Minutes said, teachers are being told they can either stay or leave the profession. I would leave if I could, but I cannot due to personal circumstances. However, I hope that as many of you as possible that can leave and still pay your bills, etc., will do so. They need to receive the message that all teachers do not have to be bullied into returning to buildings that are not safe when there is a raging pandemic and almost 4,000 people a day are dying. We already have a national teacher shortage, but it is going to become an abyss, and honestly when you look at how this is being handled, on top of all of the other disasters that they have mishandled, then why would anyone want to do this for 30 years? As a veteran teacher who loves students, but I also love my family and my life, I am sad to say that I would never recommend this job to a young person, unless they are ready to deal with being treated like they have no value, ever.

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  42. @Meeting Minutes,
    My principal pretty much summarized what you said in our faculty meeting today. We’re also told the following:
    1. Classes could be a maximum of 34 students
    2. Teachers will have to eat with the students
    3. Masks will be encouraged but will not be mandatory for students
    4. Employees will receive a letter of job abandonment if they don’t show up on 01/04
    5. Social distancing will be implemented where possible
    6. Special area teachers will have to cover classes as needed
    7. DCSD will work with a third party to contact trace
    I had chemo in July and have been waiting for an answer regarding my ADA request for the past two months. I can’t go back into the building right now so after 21 years it’s time for me to go. I wish you all the best!Stan, thanks for all that you did advocating for teachers and students. Your service is appreciated!

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  43. Thanks for a Ruined Holiday

    That first paragraph is crap. So what DCSS is saying is it doesn’t matter if we stayed home for 9 months, haven’t visited grandma, didn’t have funerals or weddings, didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with family, didn’t go on a summer vacation. Delta says you need 3 negative tests before you fly on an 8-hour international flight–but hey, teachers and kids–just wear a mask 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and you will be fine. Get used to substitute teachers–if there are any. If your teacher has been allowed to continue teaching at home, they would NOT be missing a day of school. I am just dumbfounded that in the worst deadliest rampage of this virus, DCSS is saying –now we are going to send everyone back to school, in the dead of winter, with both covid and flu rampant, with a vaccine about 4 months away, but hey–your mask is going to make it all right. If the parents of those students do not want them in school, that is fine, stay home however, those same parents who are teachers have no say.

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  44. Meeting Minutes

    My apologies; I forgot to add a few things:

    11. Teachers are required to arrive no later than 30 minutes before our contracted start time to make sure we’re in our classrooms when the students arrive.
    12. Teachers are also required to stay until the last child is picked up. If this happens by 3:00–great! If it happens at 6:00, oh well. Yes, DeKalb knows this is a violation of our work hours, but that’s the nature of the job).
    13. Students, who will not be socially distanced, will eat lunch (mask-less) in the classrooms, and teachers will be required to stay with them during lunch. This means that we also will not get our mandated duty-free lunch.
    14. We are required to simultaneously teach in person and online. How is this supposed to work? Nobody knows yet, but “you guys will find a way to make it work.” BUT, make sure you figure out how to teach the in-person kids bell-to-bell while also NOT teaching the online kids bell-to-bell. It wouldn’t be fair to the online kids if they had to sit in front of a computer for a long time.
    15. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, don’t tell admin. Why? Because DeKalb has left them in the dark as much as they’ve left teachers, so they have no clue how to answer those questions.

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  45. @meeting minutes, dude, I’m just going to try to survive. Everything else is a moot point. Survival is my priority when we return. Teaching will take a back seat. They can give me all the rules they want but I’m going to come out of this thing alive in May. That’s my ONLY concern and goal. Then a nice Florida vacation to celebrate my survival, already have it planned.

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  46. Meeting Minutes

    Yes,

    That’s my plan as well. Good luck!

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  47. @yes and @meetingmintues. That is exactly right! You want a warm body in the room, well you will get one. Is teaching going to be my priority now? NOT!!!!! What will be? Me coming out on the other side of this pandemic. We will be just as selfish, narcissistic and self serving as everyone else.

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  48. Pregnant Teacher

    For anyone with knowledge:

    I have a high-risk pregnancy and tried *in vain*to call HR today to ask about leave options. Am I able to take any sort of leave (even without pay) and what kind of documentation would I need if approved????

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  49. Stan
    I mentioned this in another post. Do you think that you could get the school district to post the information and forms related to leave? Other school systems have done this. I have actually seen them. In the Clayton County Schools System, they were emailed to all employees in July.
    Having this information would help people understand the process and requirements .I am sure it is difficult for HR to answer every call right now. Some people may be looking for general information.
    Thank you for all that you do.

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  50. Concernedparent

    Stan,
    I am sorry if I am the only one who is not clear on this answer. I have read through all of these posts.
    So these dates are set in stone? And the 8-10% rates for returning 2 days per week and 5% rates returning 4 days a week no longer apply? I have reached out to admin with no reply.
    “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.”

    Can you please clarify or is this still going unanswered! Thank you again for creating this forum.

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  51. Hello ConcernedParent. Really good question. I’m not sure why the administration released that 10% slide, because these dates are pretty much set in stone.

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  52. NONE of my families are choosing F2F, so I will trade teaching virtually from home for teaching virtually from school and will leave my 8th grader at home for online instruction. Not sure how this is helping students, but……

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  53. For those that think coming back to school is going to be different, it won’t be. Students will sit at the same desk all day and do their work online just like they are doing now. The teacher has to provide the same instruction to the kids online as well as those sitting at their desks.

    In elementary schools many classes have tables instead of desks so it’s hard to socially distance. If students aren’t required to wear a mask that means the chances of getting COVID increase. So more teachers and parents are likely to get infected.

    Also, the AC/Heat systems in many schools are approximately 50 years old so they aren’t as great as the county is saying.

    Teachers from others counties that have been doing in-school classes have said that DeKalb is the one that did it right. Many of the special education teachers and other “floater teachers” haven’t taught their students because they are constantly being pulled to cover classes. Many say they have been out of compliance for months. If a teacher has to stay home there if no one else to cover classes. How many substitutes want to come in and potentially risk COVID. Substitutes are often older and sometimes aren’t as proficient in technology -,so even if you have a warm body they don’t understand the technology and won’t really be providing quality hybrid instruction.

    With the vaccines on their way it just seems shady to now throw all caution to the wind.

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  54. @Meeting Minutes or Stan…. masks will be optional??? What excuse did Watson-Harris give for not making them a requirement?

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  55. I'm just saying.

    3270 American lives lost to Covid yesterday. I’m just saying.

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  56. Meeting Minutes

    Matt,

    We have no clue what Watson-Harris said because she has yet to actually speak to teachers beyond her usual “I’m your biggest cheerleader!” garbage. We were told that we can ask the kids to put masks on, but we can’t force them to wear one. Those case numbers are going to keep rising and Watson-Harris said that she does not care. That is literally what my admin. told us. It’s important for parents to know what a crap show this is going to be. Teachers don’t have a choice about returning, but I would encourage every parent who can to keep their children home. Some key points (again):
    1. No social distancing (because it’s “impossible”)
    2. No professional cleaning crews or extra custodians
    3. NO testing or temp checks to make sure students aren’t coming in with symptoms
    4. We’re completely reliant on parents self reporting and being honest about a positive diagnosis (if they even bother to get their kids tested)
    5. Students in person will still learn virtually since teachers have to do both simultaneously. This means the students will sit at their desks, in front of computers, and stay that way all day. No groups, no recess, no lunch in the cafeteria, no playtime, etc.

    If you send your kids to school, be hyper vigilant about demanding to know positivity rates within the school. Make sure DeKalb is being transparent. Fulton has been lying to its parents for months, and they don’t inform parents when their child’s teacher catches Covid. Make sure you instruct your child to let you know if they suddenly get a new teacher, or if their teacher is told to go home in the middle of the day, because it’s likely that their teacher has Covid or was exposed by a co-worker or a student within that class.

    29
  57. Tired of the BS

    Pretty much evidence that the whole thing is a sham and elected officials have known this
    It has been obvious since June (at least) that the entire point of shutting down schools and lockdowns has no basis in public health but solely in causing massive disruption with the dual goal of increasing support for one political party and for making it easier to do all-mail voting and make it easier to run up the margins for that party
    Now that Biden is going to be in office and that Warnoch and Ossoff will soon be installed, the sham can be ended.
    That elected officials who claim to represent the best interest of Black and other under-represented communities have placed partisan political goals above what is best for the children of those communities shows how void of integrity they have been throughout this time.
    The long term effect on our children of this experiment will haunt us for years. Ten years from now, we will be asking why DeKalb students are so far behind some of the non-metro area schools that opened early or why the kids who went to private school are doing so much better. We won’t be honest then any more than we are being honest now. We will say that it is due to racism and lower our standards instead of admitting we threw the students under the bus for purely partisan reasons

    15
  58. Meeting Minutes

    Tired of the BS,

    It’s baffling that you can look at 311,684 people dead from Covid and think it’s some sort of partisan hoax. I guess it won’t hit home until your loved ones die from it. You (and people like you) are the reason this thing keeps spreading, and now your kids are going to contribute to the community spread because you obviously don’t take it seriously enough to make sure they’re taking the appropriate precautions. People like you are the reason teachers are terrified to go back into these buildings. We trust each other, but we DO NOT trust the parents or the county to care enough to keep everyone safe.

    37
  59. Tired of the BS

    @Meeting Minutes
    Partisan hacks who are willing to destroy children’s futures are the problem.
    yes, morbidly obese and geriatric patients have higher risks than the o.2% mortality but go look at the total mortality rates — it is exaggerated by people like you who would rather the world burn than that the other party remain in control or that Jeff Bezos not be able to be the richest man in human history
    You would sacrifice our children for your party’s gain
    You would sacrifice our lives and livelihoods to your hysterical fears just so that hate-filled people like you and your fascist leaders can funnel money to their patrons
    Now that you can stomp your bootheels forever in the face of those who do not embrace your hate-filled ideology, you should be rejoicing that the fascist party you love will be able to push through an enabling act, just as your role models did in 1933
    Absolutely disgraceful and pure evil people like you should be barred from participating in public discussion

    5
  60. Meeting Minutes

    Tired of the BS,

    I have family and friends who’ve died from Covid. They were neither geriatric nor obese. DO NOT tell me what’s real and what isn’t. Until it hits your door, you will continue to make stupid and ignorant statements like the ones you’re making, and you will continue to not take it seriously. You can throw out all of the buzzwords that you clearly don’t understand, but those stupid buzzwords aren’t bringing my family and friends back, and they’re not bringing the over 300,000 people who’ve died back, either. To completely disregard people’s pain as a “partisan hack” is hateful and disgusting.

    37
  61. Tired of the BS

    No point in arguing with pathological liars and brainwashed zealots like @Meeting Minutes who would rather the world burn than the basic freedoms and civil liberties impinge on their hysterical partisan and racist rants

    fascist mentalities are utterly disgusting but one cannot argue with Nazis like this creep

    1
  62. Safety concerns

    @Meeting Minutes,

    Are you saying that students and adults who are sent home for quarantine due to symptoms or close contact exposure will not have to test negative to return? Is quarantine optional? I thought we were supposed to be learning from other districts. Even they do that. From what people in the schools in Gwinnett are saying , they aren’t being transparent with the public numbers, but I know from other parents that quarantine and a negative test is required for return.

    1
  63. Meeting Minutes

    Teachers,

    We’ll be teaching the children of people like “Tired of the bs”. This is what we’re up against. We’ll be forced into small, unventilated rooms with children whose parents think Covid is a hoax. At this point, as others mentioned, teaching comes second/last. We have to take care of ourselves to make it to the other side of this because these parents are going to make it as unsafe and difficult as possible. Again, good luck. Someone needs to start an anonymous platform so that we can report what’s going on in these schools. We are our best and only defense at this point.

    34
  64. Karma-it will happen. Just wait. All these parents willing to risk teacher’s lives will have a visit from Karma. Don’t come here crying about your families being affected by COVID-19. You did this to yourself.

    13
  65. Meeting Minutes

    Safety concerns,

    Yes, the staff in Fulton must take tests and produce negative results to return. I’m not sure what they’re doing about students. From what DeKalb has shared, it almost feels like we aren’t even allowed to ask the students or parents for that much. We still haven’t gotten clarity on how to handle those situations. I believe that the county is being very secretive and vague about those details on purpose. They’re leaving it up to the schools so that individual schools will be blamed for people getting sick instead of the county.

    14
  66. Meeting Minutes – Nobody thinks covid is a hoax. I like your request for someone to create an anonymous platform where people can talk about covid and schools. (give it a few seconds … think about it … there ya go)

    1
  67. Meeting Minutes

    Anonymous,

    Stan’s blog isn’t the platform for it. I’m talking about a platform that is specifically dedicated for teachers in ALL counties to report these things. My friends in other counties aren’t familiar with Stan’s site because it’s dedicated to DeKalb issues. Also, the commenter above just called Covid a “partisan” issue and said that I was lying about family and friends dying from Covid. You can interpret that however you’d like.

    9
  68. Students in Fulton do not have to test negative to return. It is not recommended to have a negative test anymore. People can test positive for weeks and not have an active infection that can be spread. I work at a large hospital system. We are required to stay out for 10 days from when symptoms appear and have to have been fever and symptom free for 72 hours. Everyone I know that has gotten it has been gone the 10 days and then returned to work with no negative test. This is what is recommended by Georgia department of health. I believe students in Fulton are required to stay out 14 days.

    3
  69. Safety concerns

    Is DCSD doing anything to coordinate with the Georgia Department of Health to get teachers the vaccines promptly and efficiently? As Stan stated (I think- there are a lot of posts to read), teachers are in the 1B group after hospital workers, first responders, and the elderly. If there could be an effort to get teachers vaccinations on site during the first week back, there should be time for it to take effect (or lessen symptoms) before students return. By the time the staggered intro ends, teachers would be close to the second dose.

    6
  70. Positivity rate

    Why are some saying the return to F2F is happening in January regardless of percent positive?

    The meeting slide indicated the two day a week option for students when the percent positive is less than 10% along with other options when/if the percent positive drops more.

    This week’s DCSD news release states, “ The District will consider additional indicators identified by the CDC that include the percentage of RT-PCR tests that are positive during the last 14 days (positivity rate) and ability of the schools to implement the five key mitigation strategies and additional strategies to lower the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in schools.”

    https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/news/dcsd-announces-re-opening-plan-news-release/

    The AJC has also says they have spoken to the superintendent and this article mentions, “But all of that assumes the countywide positivity rate decreases sharply over the next month.”

    https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/dekalb-school-district-proposes-dates-for-face-to-face-learning/KQPKN2DDIJC4JFJABUAB574GIA/

    3
  71. Meeting Minutes – Covid has been a political football (used by politicians) since February when Pelosi and her posse walked arm and arm without masks around china town calling Trump a xenophobe for restricting travel from China.

    I’m sorry to hear about your friends and family dying of covid. You should encourage them to wear masks, wash their hands and socially distance.

    2
  72. Which we can’t do in the classroom. Isn’t it ironic that you bring that up anonymous.

    18
  73. @positivity rate- because Dekalb is notorious for lying and spinning the truth. That’s why we never know what to believe or what is going on.

    19
  74. Meeting Minutes

    A quick geography lesson: Chinatown is in California and the first U.S. Covid cases came from Europe.

    Have a nice day.

    7
  75. ASK the Same Question NOW

    .When these myopic parents (40% claims Dekalb) if they want their kids in school they said YES. Ask them now with cases are skyrocketing and I think maybe 10% would answer yes. This metric stated by the county is so misleading. After the break and covid is more out of control than it is now, these parents will be ducking for cover under the legions of teachers and staff who got sick

    10
  76. Time for Real Talk

    My local school faculty meeting with the principal just ended. We don’t have a plan, unless reacting after we return to face-to-face is a plan. I wasn’t scared about returning before, but now I’m a little scared. So much as been left to the local schools to figure out, and some schools have no idea what to do.

    17
  77. Teachers, Do you believe teachers can safely socially distance with only adults at the school? We have touched on this before, but I would like to bring it up again since it’s germane to our situation. –Stan

    7
  78. Meeting Minutes

    Stan,

    No. Fulton teachers started contracting Covid from each other before the kids came back. It’s only gotten worse since then. I don’t believe all of these teachers are disregarding safety precautions, either. Someone at the CDC is lying about what safety measures we should be taking. We meed that vaccine, and the same parents screaming that we should be in school should be screaming even louder for teachers to have immediate access to it.

    16
  79. @stan I do not think that that will be possible for all. There are small Exceptional Ed rooms with multiple teachers, teachers will have to share rooms with other teachers. I am at a school where we are overcapacity on all all levels and there is no space for each teacher to have their own space. A chronic decades long problem that has now put our lives in danger.

    7
  80. @Stan-why take the risk at all? What’s the point in playing Russian roulette with our lives? I’m not a risk taker so no, it’s not safe to be in a building with other teachers.

    16
  81. Hello @Meeting Minutes. Thanks for providing your insight into this forum. When the people who teach at Fulton Schools contracted COVID, was it decisive that they caught it at school? If teachers followed the requested COVID protocols: socially distancing, walking the same direction in hallways, washing hands, etc … would that effectively mitigate the spread at schools? –Stan

  82. F2F Option Now

    What is the fatality rate of this virus for those of us under 70 years old?

    I know several people who have had Covid19. They were sick (some pretty sick, some not so sick) and now they are fine. I know, long Covid is a thing. Did you know that’s a thing with literally any virus? Should we stay virtual forever because of it? I am now even hearing from people that the vaccine won’t be enough. It’ll never be enough. Test, test, test using tests that pick up such a small amount of virus – who even knows what tests mean anymore? People test positive today, negative tomorrow. Happened to a friend of my daughters (who was perfectly healthy – she was testing to go to a social event), not to mention many high profile people that we see on the news. What do the tests mean anymore? Seems to be a great way to keep our kids away from a school building for as long as possible.

    Now, what is the percentage increase in severe child abuse cases in GA over the last 9 months? I can share that stat with you if you would like.
    What is the increase in suicide ideation in teenagers?
    What is the increase in suicide attempts? Or ‘successes’?
    How many families have fallen further into poverty due to not being able to work due to not having an option for their kids to go to school? What will that long term impact be?
    How many teens have basically dropped out because they are watching their siblings? Or having to work to support their families?
    How many children will never recover from ‘virtual learning’? Where have those 5K kids that just haven’t shown up gone? What will that long term impact to society be? How many life years lost?

    Do you think CWH is taking ALL of these things into account as she is making some incredibly difficult decisions? Do you think it’s a balance? It’ll have been MORE THAN 10 months since kids were in the classroom when they see it for the first time on January 19th. When would be enough time for you? I believe we should have gone back in the fall but the kicking and screaming from these same lockdown zealots then was insane – and cases were low. There will never be the right time. She has to start somewhere for the sake of ALL DeKalb’s children. But keep kicking and screaming. I am sure the children will be fine. Nothing to see here.

    10
  83. @Stan-do you think it’s safe to have your board meeting in person? When will we see that? Is this an answer to your own question? Hmmmmmm.

    13
  84. I absolutely think it’s safe to have board meetings in person. The board chair calls and schedules the board meetings. However, I think people should ask the entire board why they appear to be hypocrites. Feel free to also ask why the board uses Zoom when everyone else is asked to use Microsoft Teams.

    27
  85. Meeting Minutes

    Stan,

    Yes, they were exposed and caught it at school. They figured it out because entire teams and multiple teachers on the same grade level caught it. The weird thing is that Fulton tried to get them not to tell each other that they had it. I’m assuming that the county wanted to preserve the narrative that teachers aren’t catching it at school. Schools are nasty, period. This is the first year that I haven’t come down with a cold or virus for which I’ve had to get a steroid shot. What’s most alarming is that the county has no plan. We stopped asking questions in our meeting because the answer was always “We don’t know.” We’re going back regardless—-that much, the county has made clear. But, parents need to know what their kids are walking into. We, the teachers who are tasked with keeping their kids safe, have absolutely no idea what to do and nobody is providing answers.

    17
  86. Meeting Minutes

    I’d like to add that my own children will be staying home. That’s how little confidence I have in the county to keep them safe based on the meeting we had.

    16
  87. Can't do, or won't do?

    @ Meeting Minutes — So there’s been this huge coverup in Fulton County schools, yet schools haven’t been forced to close until recently, parents haven’t been up in arms, the local papers haven’t said a word but YOU know about it. Wow. I wish I had your “inside” information.

    You’re just doing what others on here are doing. Spouting half truths and ridiculous worries.

    Here’s what’s going to happen. IF DeKalb opens, the rates will go up at first, as they did at colleges and schools across the country. Then it will be managed and people will – for the most part – be fine. Just like at every other school in the world that’s reopened.

    There are old schools everywhere in Georgia and elsewhere, bad ventilation, bathrooms without soap, etc. Yet other schools have done well with reopening.

    I don’t get why you and others think we can’t do it here in DeKalb. Seems to me it’s more you WON’T even try it. And that begs a whole list of other questions – but the main one: What makes you so special that you won’t try it when the whole world has made it work???

    6
  88. Meeting Minutes

    Can’t,
    I can only speak about one school in particular. I do know that staff from their central office were called into schools to sub to avoid shutting down. Maybe they started running out of central office staff, too. Who knows? Again, the transparency is non-existent in that county. However, it’s concerning if DeKalb is using Fulton as a blueprint for reopening because Fulton isn’t being honest or transparent. For this to work, transparency is key. Notices must be sent home to parents any time someone in the school tests positive so we can stop the spread immediately. Fulton is absolutely not doing that.

    8
  89. DeKalb is a Mess

    Sometimes I don’t understand the cross section of people that comment on this blog. In our group, every single one of our friends opted for in-person starting on Jan 19th. Every teacher in our circle (friends) is thrilled to return the the classroom and the teachers of my kids have told me repeatedly that they can’t wait to get back and are thrilled with this decision to return in January.

    We’re also staunch lefties who are taking this virus seriously while believing school can be managed successfully given the examples all over the world.

    I don’t say this to negate valid concerns from teachers about HVAC, water/soap, kids that won’t wear masks, etc. I also understand that there are teachers with immunocompromised family members and those concerns are totally valid. My hope is that in partnership with parents who are opting for in-person, we can help ease the concerns of our teachers – provide cleaning supplies, offer to help cleaning (although I’m not sure if this will be allowed), enforce mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing with our kiddos, keep our kids home when they aren’t feeling well, etc.

    This can be done.

    Teachers, the way this is being rolled out is terrible and you should have been in the loop on this long before this week. I think we’ve all seen that DCSD has done an awful job of instilling trust in both their constituents and their employees, and that isn’t something I’m going to forget quickly.

    BUT – I can’t wait to get my kids back in the classroom. I’ll miss them terribly (for all of you “this is just because parents are sick of their kids crowd”). I believe in-person learning is essential.

    13
  90. @ DeKalb is a Mess:

    Your kids will be in a classroom on their Chromebooks with little if any interaction with the teacher. What’s the point? The teacher will have to deal with your kids in the classroom and other parents’ kids at home — everyone on a Chromebook. What’s the point?

    34
  91. Meeting Minutes

    DeKalb is a mess,

    Anyone who thinks this can be done properly has never worked in a school. I can guarantee that, despite their willingness to return to a classroom, your teacher friends have serious concerns. We all do. We speak out on this blog because we can do so anonymously and we know that Stan is someone who listens and actually tries to get our concerns addressed. With regards to the other comment, the parents who send their kids to school either have to or they don’t think this virus will have a serious impact on their kids/families. These parents are not going to run to the news because they want schools to remain open. Teachers aren’t going to speak out because we are strictly prohibited from talking to the press and we will be fired. Why do you think so many teachers speak out on this blog anonymously? Again, schools will open in January. The superintendent is lying to the press when she says she’s using metrics to determine the return date. We were told to completely disregard those metrics because they do not matter anymore. I don’t think there is a single teacher who wouldn’t return tomorrow if it were completely safe. However, we don’t have a choice at this point. The only way this will “work” is if we’re honest about our concerns and take measures to address them. At the moment, there is no plan. Parents need to know this so you can make the most informed decision for your family. As I’ve stated, my children are staying home. I’ll wear a mask when I’m around them and create a safe zone in my house where I can remove my mask. If I catch it, at least I won’t transmit it to my family. That’s really all we can do for now.

    21
  92. @ DeKalb is a mess

    At our small high school, fewer than a quarter of the families expressed an interest in returning F2F. And that was BEFORE the number of cases began to climb. The teachers are disappointed and scared. I want to believe! But after 13 years in DCSD, I have little confidence in their planning abilities.

    13
  93. Time for Real Talk

    @DeKalb is a Mess, you wrote “My hope is that in partnership with parents who are opting for in-person, we can help ease the concerns of our teachers – provide cleaning supplies, offer to help cleaning…enforce mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing with our kiddos, keep our kids home when they aren’t feeling well, etc.”

    A major issue is that there are a number of DCSD schools where there is no partnership with guardians. In many communities, families are not in a position to provide cleaning supplies, keep kids at home when they aren’t feeling well, etc. There are quite a few DCSD schools without a PTA, certainly without a foundation, and the parents/guardians won’t be dropping by Home Depot to pick up an air purifier for a teacher’s classroom –not even a can of Lysol wipes. We’re one school district with a big equity gap.

    27
  94. F2F Option Now

    Isn’t it a good thing that a small percentage of families are expressing interest in returning? Would you rather a large percentage? Geesh. Seriously, people are never satisfied and use metrics to prove their narrative no matter what. Small percentage means more space, more ability to social distance, etc. We need to start somewhere. Almost like a pilot study. If we wait til…when? March, April, May (duh, that won’t happen)…so then it’s next August. And 100% of families just jump in like Covid was never a thing? I get that the fear is real but we have to start somewhere. The county would be very smart to offer some education and assurance from their medical advisory team. That seems to be lacking for sure.

    9
  95. Exactly Meeting Minutes. All the people saying f2f is safe don’t work in a school. Huuuuuuge difference in what parents think goes on in a school and what really goes on. Teachers are bullied and threatened into “playing the game.” Our certificates and evaluations are always being threatened. The only time you will hear the truth is when a teacher retires and there’s no recourse for spilling the beans. You can read posts online from teachers who have quit and they are pretty honest about why. Parents-you have no clue. It’s not rainbows and sunshine inside the building. I don’t know a single teacher that wants to go back and I’m sure I know more than you. Your teacher friends might be afraid to tell you the truth. It’s sad, but teachers can be blacklisted if they don’t “play the game,” which includes smiling and saying how exciting they are to be working in a building during a world wide pandemic (said no one ever).

    33
  96. Just like the decision to shutdown businesses are all made by people still getting their pay checks. People making these decisions should eat their own dog food.

    14
  97. F2f, I would agree with you if there was a limit to how many students were allowed in the building and my class. But they told me I could have 16 in January. My room is TINY. Then in February it’s my full class.

    12
  98. Hello @Yes, Half the parents in the last survey said they were not comfortable sending their kids to school. Even before this spike in COVID, if the survey holds true, less than half the students will opt for F2F learning.

    4

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