CONCORD – We’re hoping to get some answers from the Governor at today’s press conference regarding his new order that circumvents the carefully crafted plans of many school districts in the state.
Well before the Governor decided to insert himself into this process, school districts had developed safe re-opening plans and were on track to return to full-time classes by early May.
Those plans were created with the input of educators, administrators, parents, and health officials to address the unique needs of each school and bring students back AS QUICKLY AND AS SAFELY AS POSSIBLE – which has always been our goal.
The Governor’s new order has brought unnecessary chaos to what was an orderly process to meet some new arbitrary deadline that he created without consulting anyone connected with actually educating children in our public schools.
First question, Governor. Recently. Dr. Chan warned us not to let our guard down now that new COVID-19 infections are rising across all age groups under the age of 60 due to people relaxing restrictions too quickly. Yet, despite that warning, school districts are being forced to preparing for a full return to in-person classes on April 19 due to your new order. We know that buses are going to be a problem; social distancing on a crowded school bus is impossible. We’re also aware that there are not enough busses and bus drivers to accommodate your new order.
So, what advice to you have for these districts? Should they ignore proven safety protocols amid rising case numbers and pack busses like they used to just to meet your new deadline?
Second question, Governor. The schools that are encountering the most difficulty following your order are those with the most diverse or economically disadvantaged students. Your order would seem to put those students and their families at risk, especially when data has shown their vulnerability and difficulty of accessing the vaccine and medical services.
What do you say to those who say your emergency order is discriminatory?
Third question, Governor. Many school districts have already addressed the unique issues and challenges they have to safely reopen buildings on their own in the long-standing tradition of local control. They have put in place plans that get them to the 5-day per week classes by May 3. Some have already publicly stated that they are going to stick to those plans rather than modify them to reach your April 19 goal. Are you suggesting these districts have acted in bad faith and are not trying to get kids back to school as quickly and as safely as possible?”
And lastly, Governor, who did you consult with before announcing the April 19 deadline?
Educators, administrators, and parents have gone above and beyond this past year to serve our students. They are the reason our students have had continued education, support, and nutrition during the pandemic. This same dedicated group has also worked together to put plans in place to get our kids back into classrooms, as quickly and safely as possible. The return to full-time, five-days-a-week classes should be afforded the flexibility you have spoken of at every press conference this year to ensure educators are re-entering fully populated classrooms after their vaccines have had a chance to reach their recommended maximum effectiveness, and to consider the individual needs and limitations of the districts across the state.
We’re hoping we get more than ultimatums at today’s press conference.