Trust Teachers: Provide Teachers With The Option to Work Remotely
As the start of a new school year approached, teachers prepared for their return to the classroom in ways they never had before. Some teachers found themselves setting up a home-office to teach from while students were learning remotely; others found themselves mentally preparing to return to their empty classrooms where they will sit in isolation for 7 hours each day while their students learn remotely.
While the Carman-Ainsworth Community School District in Flint, Michigan, determined remote learning for the month of September to be the best option based on the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in this region, the district failed to consider that teachers are human, too.
Instead of providing an option for teachers to work remotely during the timeframe in which their students are off-site, the district is requiring teachers to be present within their school buildings Monday-Friday, from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
The logic for this decision is formally said to be based on the concept of teachers being part of the ‘First Cohort’ to return to an in-person setting; the underlying reasons for this decision are rooted in distrust and dehumanization of teachers.
The idea of teachers being utilized as ‘guinea pigs’ for determining the safety of resuming in-person education is flawed; the current requirements do not mimic the anticipated conditions of students returning to classrooms and thus provide no valuable insight on the perceived safety of returning to in-person learning.
By requiring teachers to be present in the building while students learn remotely, the district has placed undue burden on educators. Numerous educators within the community have children aged K-12 that will now be home during this timeframe and they must find accommodations for child care while they go into work each day. While this is the difficult reality faced by millions of Americans, many employers have found ways to accommodate the needs of employees by permitting work to be completed remotely, whenever reasonable accommodations can be made.
In addition to undue burden, teachers must now face an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 by being required to travel into work each day. This increase in exposure likely includes the additional stops at a gas station, at a store for materials, and any time they are within the school building.
Since March, we have witnessed a rapid increase in access to alternative work options. The ability to interact virtually has been utilized by nearly every industry; medical appointments can be conducted via Telemedicine services, students can interact through virtual education platforms, and families can safely come together to celebrate, mourn, or simply say “hello” through platforms such as Zoom or Skype.
It is time for Carman-Ainsworth to be a leader for the Flint community and provide staff members with the option to work remotely if desired.
Please join in showing your support for the health and wellbeing of our community by requesting the Carman-Ainsworth Board of Education and Superintendent Eddie Kindle to reconsider the decision to require staff members to be present in the building despite students learning remotely.
I will be bringing this issue up to the school board during the public comments portion of the virtual meeting on Tuesday, September 1st
Please share and sign by Tuesday if possible! Thank you!!