On Behalf of NHPS Preschool Collective
August 5, 2020
To Whom it may concern at New Haven Public Schools, including (but not limited to):
- Dr. Ilene Tracey, Superintendent
- Ms. Pamela Augustine-Jefferson, Director of Early Learning Programs
- Ms. Typhanie Jackson, Director of Student Services
- Ms. Yesenia Rivera, President - New Haven Board of Education (NHBOE)
- Mr. Justin Elicker, Mayor of the City of New Haven, NHBOE Member
- All remaining members of the NHBOE
We, the undersigned with support from the New Haven Federation of Teachers, reflect a collective membership of New Haven Public School Preschool teachers and staff affiliated with NHPS Early Childhood Special Education (ECAT), Magnet, Head Start and School Readiness programs serving New Haven's youngest students, aged 2.9 years to 5 years old.
We have communicated with each other and are unified in an effort to have our concerns acknowledged and recognized over the return to school-based instruction this September, given the release of Connecticut State Department of Education's Addendum 2 (CSDE A2).
We are writing for recognition, acknowledgement, and consideration of the following:
Given the CSDE A2's "Guidance and Considerations," teachers and students in NHPS preschools are at an increased risk of COVID-19 exposure as compared to other teachers, staff members, and students in the K-12 settings (outside of our esteemed colleagues in PK-12 High Needs) due to:
- The expressed expectations of close physical proximity to students for interactive purposes (CSDE A2, 5).
- The dismissal of requirements for students to wear masks (CSDE A2, 3)
- The expressed acknowledgement of the difficulty to cohort students in preschool (CSDE A2, 2).
- The individualized nature of bathroom protocols and personal care needs for preschool students including toileting, diapering, feeding, cleaning, and daily living support (CSDE A2, 4).
- The increased probability of students utilizing community-based childcare settings (CSDE A2, 5).
Given the nature of New Haven's municipal tax structure, level of economic stability, and New Haven Public School's traditional financial allocations, we are writing to assert that, collectively, we have historically experience the following and therefore have extreme concerns regarding:
- A severe lack of coverage for staff absences.
- Incredible difficulty obtaining the proper amount of supplies for student and staff health and safety protocols (ie. gloves, sanitizer, soap, etc.)
- ECAT's trend of annually increasing class sizes for students qualifying for special education under IDEA Part B without staff coverage, resources or classroom expansion to match.
Given the CSDE's Addendum 2 "Guidance and Consideration" and the subsequent burden placed on New Haven Public Schools to meet those requirements with consideration for the historic experiences of the district and it's members, we are united in requesting:
A SHORTENED DAY FOR PRESCHOOL IN-SCHOOL INSTRUCTION IN ALL DISTRICT PRESCHOOL PROGRAMMING.
We, the undersigned, believe this would reduce the anticipated impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the preschool settings by:
- Reducing the length of time staff and student would face unmitigated COVID-19 exposure given the presence of unmasked students.
- Limiting the amount of PPE required daily to assist in supporting students in bathrooming, diapering, and individualized care.
- Limiting the amount of contact through feeding and serving meals, with a second meal being able to be sent home.
- The early dismissal of students would occur during a time when it is difficult to maximize instruction based on the chronological and developmental age of the students served.
- The reduction of in-school instruction could be supplemented with an at-home or virtual learning activity.
Moving forward, we, the undersigned, respectfully request a platform in which we can speak with decision-makers in NHPS Preschool programming to suggest New Haven Public Schools adopt a "half-day, double session" framework for early childhood interventions.
For further discussion or clarification on the matters discussed in this document, please contact Mallory Bogart (author) at email@example.com.
On behalf of the New Haven Public Schools Preschool community, we thank you for your time and your consideration.