Letter: Alamance teacher’s group wants Plan C
Plan B is what we the community, parents, and educators of Alamance County have been presented for the reopening of our schools. As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise here in Alamance (1,648 on Saturday) we are expected to return to the buildings we were removed from in March when the number of cases was much lower.
Many of our educators are frightened and believe Plan B is unsafe for educators, students, and families. Collectively educators do not feel comfortable walking back into the brick and mortar of our respective buildings. There are still too many unanswered questions and uncertainties. We all want to see our students again able to give them an equitable and quality education. But how can we provide them with a safe, quality education if we cannot protect the health and safety of everyone involved? This virus takes 3-4 days at a minimum for infected individuals to show symptoms. You can transmit it before you are symptomatic. How will an A/B day schedule protect anyone?
Educators learned they could file a Temporary Accommodations Request. To our understanding, it’s based on a first come, first served basis and not everyone will be approved. Educators must identify as increased risk for serious illness or might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. If completing this form for medical reasons, it must be signed by their physician; with one week to get this done. There are no provisions for those who may be caring for elderly parents who may be at risk or those who have an at-risk child or children of their own. Our educators who live with a vulnerable family member receive no consideration under the current policy, despite the inevitability that exposed educators will bring this virus home to our families.
Many educators are questioning and concerned with who made this decision? Was it a TEAM of people? If so, who was represented on this team? Did it consist of the educators who are expected to return to these buildings? Were there community members or parents included on this team? If not, failing to include educators and families in the planning process is inexcusable. We are the stakeholders who will be responsible for implementing this plan.
What is the plan for cases that may come about within our schools, whether it be a student or staff? Do we have enough subs who are willing to be called upon? Some subs have said they will not set foot in an ABSS school until Alamance County flattens the curve. Will educators be required to use sick leave or FMLA if they must quarantine for exposure or contraction of the virus? Will other educators be required to cover classes not covered by subs? Who will ride buses to check the temperatures of the student riders?
Making the reopening decision without bringing it before the publicly-elected school board is a misuse of power. Educators and ABSS families put their faith in these elected officials to represent the best interest of the county. This decision seems to have been made without public comments and without a vote by the board.
The Alamance Burlington Association of Educators urges Dr. Bruce Benson and the ABSS School Board to reconsider the current Plan B and opt for the much safer Plan C until our local transmission rates decline.
Karen C Slade, president of the Alamance-Burlington Association of Educators