Even as we close out the Covid school year, districts are wrestling with deciding how to open schools in August. What mitigation measures should they keep in place? What should they drop? What does the community want? Parents? Students? Teachers and staff?
Grumpy Old Teacher’s (GOT) district has put a survey online to gather stakeholder input. (Stakeholder is a fancy word that means anyone whose life is affected by what takes place in the city’s schools. Employees, parents, students, obviously. But it also includes community organizations, local businesses who depend upon the school for customers, people who live around a school, etc.) You can find the survey here.
If you’re expecting a bash post, you will be disappointed. GOT is going to share the questions, the limited options, the answers he gave, and what he really wanted to offer.
Face Masks: mandatory; optional except for hallway movement, crowded spaces, and lack of social distancing (now defined as three feet); optional; undecided.
Undecided. Actually, GOT is very decided, but the response that couldn’t be offered is that it depends upon vaccination rates. If a significant number of teenagers get vaccinated over the summer, GOT would support making face masks optional. If not, we had better continue with a mandatory policy.
Because the new authorizations are limited to children 12 and older, continue with the existing mandatory policy for elementary schools.
Transportation a/k/a the school bus: mandatory on buses; optional if students are three feet apart (LOL, has a district official ever ridden on a school bus?); optional; undecided.
Undecided. Again, it depends upon the vaccination rate. As for that three feet apart rule, the district wouldn’t run a bus with that few children riding on it. They would find a cheaper solution–like giving children vouchers for the city bus system. Don’t sneer, they’ve done it before. GOT remembers the summer program where 12 year old children were going to be given vouchers for city buses until an assistant principal brought the district to their senses.
Desk shields: mandatory; mandatory in classrooms that can’t meet the three foot rule or for small groups (LOL again! Nothing promotes small group learning like erecting barriers so the group members stare at one another through cellophane windows); teacher preference (Don’t be cynical. That really is an option); available for any student or employee who wants one; removed; undecided.
Removed. Even the CDC now says they do nothing to prevent the spread of disease. If you don’t believe them (they do have some credibility problems left over from 2020 when their contortions to please ‘the former guy’ and yet give sound advice left their reputation shredded,) know that when the county health department (DOH) calls to identify students for quarantine, they don’t give a hoot about the desk shields. They quarantine everyone, shielded or not.
Temperature checks: continued for students and employees; done only when the DOH says to; eliminated; undecided.
Eliminated. Praise to the parents! They kept sick children home this year, which made the temperature checks unnecessary. We don’t need them.
Did you notice that the survey combines checks for students and employees together? Why didn’t they offer the choice of students only? GOT is weary, so weary, of his district treating him like a cheat and a liar that cannot be trusted. If GOT is running a temperature and is sick, he will stay home. That’s what adults do. The problem with school systems is that, because they exist for the benefit of children, the honchos who run things tend to treat everyone like they are a child.
Hand sanitizer: placed in classrooms; only if the DOH identifies an ‘outbreak’ of Covid; stop providing it; undecided.
Provide it to classrooms, now and forever! Teachers have needed hand sanitizer before the pandemic began in March 2020. Begin with the fact that student bathrooms seldom have soap in the dispensers. The first thing a student returning from the bathroom asks for is the hand sanitizer. Flu season arrives and hand sanitizer would be a great boon in maintaining the health of children and staff. But before the pandemic, the district was meh! Buy it yourself, teacher, isn’t that what your supply money check is for? Maybe now, they will see the importance of classroom sanitization and will continue to provide the supplies for it.
Anti-microbial spray treatment: continue to treat every 90 days; treat only when DOH determines there has been an ‘outbreak’ of Covid in the school; stop; undecided.
Continue. While we have no direct evidence of efficacy, we also know that the typical flu season was non-existent this year. Covid and flu are different viruses when it comes to size. Covid is tiny, floats in the air for a long time, and prevention measures need to address ventilation and air filtration. But flu is large and heavy, and tends to settle on surfaces only a short distance from a cough or sneeze.
How narrow a focus should a school district have on the health of students? Should we only talk about Covid or should we widen our approach to address the common viruses that spread through schools? A wider focus would demand that the treatments continue. Even if Covid wanes and dies out, flu is endemic. It is a recurring part of our lives. Continue the treatments.
Wellness app: continue each day; use only when DOH identifies an ‘outbreak’ at a school; eliminate; undecided.
ELIMINATE! Forgive the all-caps shouting, but this has been the dumbest mitigation measure the district implemented. First, revisit the point about treating employees like children rather than the adults that they are. We can be trusted. Second, has anyone in the district even read the app? Why do they ask an employee every day if they have been exposed to Covid within the last 14 days? Didn’t we answer the same question yesterday? Do they think we are liars and this time they will catch us?
Third, students do not have to answer the questions. The entire wellness app is exactly what anyone fills out when going to a doctor’s office. The district forced this on employees not because it would help stop the spread of Covid in the schools, but to allow the legal department to aver that we follow CDC guidelines. Why does the district seek to be compliant rather than have classrooms engaged in sound practice? (Yes, for the astute, that’s a veiled criticism of the learning arcs and administrative inspections.)
Lastly, do district employees fill out the same app when reporting to headquarters? Does the superintendent? Do school board members? (Enquiring minds want to know.)
That’s a wrap. These are the questions for which the district seeks your input. Again, here’s the link to the survey. And if, like GOT, you want to add an explanation or offer an answer not on the menu, put a comment on the post.