That didn't last long - SOMSD teachers not returning for in-person instruction

We just started hybrid this past week in W.O. We've kept my older kid fully remote and had my younger one go hybrid, which means he's in the classroom two mornings a week. I find this to be a very difficult question, and the only thing I feel certain about is to be skeptical of anyone expressing too much certainty.

The risks from covid are real. We've been taking it very seriously in my household, and my base level stress is definitely much higher now with one of our household regularly out in public again. On the other hand, my child is definitely getting a benefit from the classroom time. This whole situation is so challenging because you're constantly trying to make risk calculations without actually knowing what risks you are truly balancing.

For us, given our older one is actually doing really well with remote learning and the fact that as you get older it seems your risk from covid increases, keeping him home seemed the better call. For the younger one, he's been doing ok with remote but we thought he'd really benefit from some in classroom time. His cohort is small, everyone's wearing masks. It seems like the risk of exposure is less than the benefit he's getting from being in the classroom, but this is all with such limited knowledge. I wish, this far into this pandemic, there were fewer open questions.


FilmCarp said:

Virtual school is not perfect, but it is working   

Do you have kids in virtual school?  If you did, you'd realize it's not working.


yahooyahoo said:

FilmCarp said:

Virtual school is not perfect, but it is working   

Do you have kids in virtual school?  If you did, you'd realize it's not working.

Sounded like a son, didn’t it?

FilmCarp said:

As for privilege, you are correct that I remind my son that we have stayed healthy while many have not. We were also able to monitor his work, as we have had essentially no work from march until three weeks ago.


DaveSchmidt said:

yahooyahoo said:

FilmCarp said:

Virtual school is not perfect, but it is working   

Do you have kids in virtual school?  If you did, you'd realize it's not working.

Sounded like a son, didn’t it?

FilmCarp said:

As for privilege, you are correct that I remind my son that we have stayed healthy while many have not. We were also able to monitor his work, as we have had essentially no work from march until three weeks ago.

 Reading comprehension is a big plus.  My son is getting through it.  It is not anywhere near as good as a regular school year, but the only advantage he would get by sitting with his computer in a classroom with a few other kids socially distanced is the exercise walking to school, and he gets plenty of exercise.   Right now he interacts constantly with teachers and "sees" some after school nearly every day. No need to ask them to risk their lives or long term health.  We can wait until they are vaccinated.  These are hard life lessons.


We had high hopes for hybrid learning at CHS. We are new to SOMA, and hoped our son could interact with teachers and meet some local kids. Our son says he is really just doing remote learning while sitting in a cold classroom. There is little real interaction. Not sure how this could change. 


FilmCarp said:

DaveSchmidt said:

yahooyahoo said:

FilmCarp said:

Virtual school is not perfect, but it is working   

Do you have kids in virtual school?  If you did, you'd realize it's not working.

Sounded like a son, didn’t it?

FilmCarp said:

As for privilege, you are correct that I remind my son that we have stayed healthy while many have not. We were also able to monitor his work, as we have had essentially no work from march until three weeks ago.

 Reading comprehension is a big plus.  My son is getting through it.  It is not anywhere near as good as a regular school year, but the only advantage he would get by sitting with his computer in a classroom with a few other kids socially distanced is the exercise walking to school, and he gets plenty of exercise.   Right now he interacts constantly with teachers and "sees" some after school nearly every day. No need to ask them to risk their lives or long term health.  We can wait until they are vaccinated.  These are hard life lessons.

FWIW: I have one kid in high school and one in middle school. Both are a bit nerdy (with friends who tend towards the nerdy side), and virtual school has been working quite well for both of them. Not sure if we're an exception, or if there are many more who are having fine virtual school experiences and are just not very vocal about it. (Although I do expect it would have been much harder for them if they were in elementary school.)


FilmCarp said:


My son is getting through it.  It is not anywhere near as good as a regular school year, 

 Sounds like you agree that virtual school is not working.


yahooyahoo said:

FilmCarp said:

My son is getting through it.  It is not anywhere near as good as a regular school year, 

 Sounds like you agree that virtual school is not working.

 Nope.  It's not perfect, but it does not have to be perfect to be working, because it does not exist in a vacuum.  For example, its not perfect but both he and his teachers are still alive.  In that regard it is pretty good.  


birdwatcher said:

We had high hopes for hybrid learning at CHS. We are new to SOMA, and hoped our son could interact with teachers and meet some local kids. Our son says he is really just doing remote learning while sitting in a cold classroom. There is little real interaction. Not sure how this could change. 

It's a very tough year to start as a new kid.

I'd reach out to the school (maybe social worker or HSA?) to see if there are any other new kids your son could connect with. There is an online Friday social event this week, but I'm guessing it might be attended by kids who mostly know each other, so may not really help with making initial connections.

If he plays an outdoor sport, I assume they will start back up in the Spring.


Back to all virtual for now. I just got an email from the district.


mrincredible said:

Back to all virtual for now. I just got an email from the district.

 For all grades? Can you post the email?


jimmurphy said:

 For all grades? Can you post the email?

 Yes, for all grades.  


Everybody:

Dear South Orange Maplewood School District Community,

We are in receipt of SOMEA’s email indicating that they are once again refusing to report to the school buildings. As per the Community Reopening Update of only a few hours ago, the District was making progress in its Phase 3 reopening with no evidence of in-school transmission. We felt that the Sidebar Agreement with SOMEA was working as intended. Notably, the initial walkthroughs resulted in agreement on numerous classrooms as being fit for use. Ultimately, it appears that disagreement over 34 workspaces, more than a dozen of which were brought to our attention as recently as Saturday, has led to this reaction. We are disappointed that our Phased reopening plan has again been disrupted. As we will lack the faculty necessary to staff the buildings, the District will resume virtual-only instruction indefinitely pending discussion with SOMEA’s representatives and consultation with our labor counsel as to remedies that will facilitate resumption of our hybrid reopening plan. Central office employees will also work virtually.

South Orange Maplewood School District

mrincredible said:

Dear South Orange Maplewood School District Community,

We are in receipt of SOMEA’s email indicating that they are once again refusing to report to the school buildings. As per the Community Reopening Update of only a few hours ago, the District was making progress in its Phase 3 reopening with no evidence of in-school transmission. We felt that the Sidebar Agreement with SOMEA was working as intended. Notably, the initial walkthroughs resulted in agreement on numerous classrooms as being fit for use. Ultimately, it appears that disagreement over 34 workspaces, more than a dozen of which were brought to our attention as recently as Saturday, has led to this reaction. We are disappointed that our Phased reopening plan has again been disrupted. As we will lack the faculty necessary to staff the buildings, the District will resume virtual-only instruction indefinitely pending discussion with SOMEA’s representatives and consultation with our labor counsel as to remedies that will facilitate resumption of our hybrid reopening plan. Central office employees will also work virtually.

South Orange Maplewood School District


Quite a different characterization than the Village Green article.

The SOMEA response will be interesting. I understand that there are still numerous deficiencies in the buildings, primarily relating to heat and ventilation.


The SOMEA letter posted on the Village Green states:

Indeed, that the district never intended to comply with the Agreement is perhaps best evidenced by the clear directive central office administration sent to its building administrators to disregard the express terms of the Agreement. Specifically, while the district agreed that the only classrooms fit for use in the midst of an airborne contagion pandemic are those with working motors/blowers capable of maintaining adequate ventilation and room temperatures of 68-79 degrees with open windows, central office administration directed building administrators to place staff and students in rooms meeting only one of these requirements.

https://villagegreennj.com/schools-kids/south-orange-maplewood-schools-move-indefinitely-to-remote-learning-after-teachers-union-says-members-wont-return/

Was the ventilation intended to be achieved by opening windows? 

My high schooler indicated that during the time they were hybrid (he was attending virtually), one of his teachers appeared to be especially cold in his classroom, and was doing various things to try to keep warm during the class time. 


Pretty telling when the teachers indicate that they’ll return on March 15th and the district sets the date for April 19th...

I think the reality of the situation is that the univents, which are basically just window ACs as I understand them, are not up to the task of providing the required ventilation. As a result, windows need to be opened. As a result, the boilers cannot keep up and meet the required temperature, as the heating system was not designed to operate with open windows in the dead of winter.

April 15th is the end of the heating season. April 19th is 2 weeks after the end of Spring Break, which allows for appropriate quarantine if anyone travels during the break.



jimmurphy said:

Pretty telling when the teachers indicate that they’ll return on March 15th and the district sets the date for April 19th...

I think the reality of the situation is that the univents, which are basically just window ACs as I understand them, are not up to the task of providing the required ventilation. As a result, windows need to be opened. As a result, the boilers cannot keep up and meet the required temperature, as the heating system was not designed to operate with open windows in the dead of winter.

April 15th is the end of the heating season. April 19th is 2 weeks after the end of Spring Break, which allows for appropriate quarantine if anyone travels during the break.


Don't quote me here, but I think we're talking about two different dates. For the last month or so, some kids were attending school in cohorts (K-2, 6th and 9th grades, and possibly some special needs students). Though I don't think there was a specific date, I believe the intention was to get other students back, in some form, during March.

The first e-mail pushed back the date when the other grades were to return (in phases or whatever) to April 19th. As you noted, this is two weeks after spring break and after the heaters are usually turned off.

The second e-mail, I believe, reflected the union's decision to end all in-person teaching until at least March 15, so the grades with in-person attendance are now fully virtual again.



chalmers said:

Don't quote me here, but I think we're talking about two different dates. For the last month or so, some kids were attending school in cohorts (K-2, 6th and 9th grades, and possibly some special needs students). Though I don't think there was a specific date, I believe the intention was to get other students back, in some form, during March.

The first e-mail pushed back the date when the other grades were to return (in phases or whatever) to April 19th. As you noted, this is two weeks after spring break and after the heaters are usually turned off.

The second e-mail, I believe, reflected the union's decision to end all in-person teaching until at least March 15, so the grades with in-person attendance are now fully virtual again.

 Yes. I was confused at first because earlier yesterday we got the email about rescheduling Phase 3.

I really hope the majority of teachers can be vaccinated soon. I think this would greatly reduce concerns about spreading the virus through in-person school.


mrincredible said:

 Yes. I was confused at first because earlier yesterday we got the email about rescheduling Phase 3.

I really hope the majority of teachers can be vaccinated soon. I think this would greatly reduce concerns about spreading the virus through in-person school.

I do too.

Hard to imagine that they can maintain 68 degrees in a classroom with the boilers off and the windows open, even in April and May. Seems like a plan destined to fail.

Might consider keeping the boilers on longer.


I appreciate that the discussion about this issue here is much calmer than the one on FB.  


higgins said:

 

 Municipal workers in South Orange took a pay cut during the pandemic, pressured by the trustees. I have not heard boo from the teachers union about supporting the community in these tough times by making any voluntary pay sacrifices. Nor have I heard any suggestions by parents or town residents. Are we not all in this together, or what? The teachers union is powerful, maybe too powerful. Parents will never be as organized, yet we are "management." One reason public employee unions, arguably, are unfair.


higgins said:

Municipal workers in South Orange took a pay cut during the pandemic, pressured by the trustees. I have not heard boo from the teachers union about supporting the community in these tough times by making any voluntary pay sacrifices. Nor have I heard any suggestions by parents or town residents. Are we not all in this together, or what? The teachers union is powerful, maybe too powerful. Parents will never be as organized, yet we are "management." One reason public employee unions, arguably, are unfair.

Are you saying the work that teachers are putting in from home is coming up short of pitching in? (Teachers I know outside the district, including my brother-in-law in Chicago, have been working harder than ever in the pandemic, but I no longer have a child in the district, so I might be missing something.) As far as pay, that was a freeze in South Orange, not a cut, wasn’t it? And pressured, you say, not voluntary?


higgins said:

 Municipal workers in South Orange took a pay cut during the pandemic, pressured by the trustees. I have not heard boo from the teachers union about supporting the community in these tough times by making any voluntary pay sacrifices. Nor have I heard any suggestions by parents or town residents. Are we not all in this together, or what? The teachers union is powerful, maybe too powerful. Parents will never be as organized, yet we are "management." One reason public employee unions, arguably, are unfair.

 Well you go first.  What have you suggested?    Thanks in advance.


higgins said:

 Municipal workers in South Orange took a pay cut during the pandemic, pressured by the trustees. I have not heard boo from the teachers union about supporting the community in these tough times by making any voluntary pay sacrifices. Nor have I heard any suggestions by parents or town residents. Are we not all in this together, or what? ....

 Yes, we are all in this together. That's why I was glad to hear about the hundreds of taxpayers who each chipped in an additional $100 to their community (Maplewood/South Orange) to make voluntary sacrifi.... 

What? That didn't happen? 

Thinking back, reminds me of when I was teaching in Jersey City. September, 2005, a new dude shows up.... introduce myself, ... says he taught in Columbia H.S.

"Christ." says "I, why did you leave a cushy job like that?"

"Pay."

Me?  When I retired from J.C., I was making $89k with just a B.A.  (2006), with 10 years of seniority.


sbenois said:u Well you go first.  What have you suggested?    Thanks in advance.

 My starting point is that parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children and, therefore, that they should not be an afterthought when it comes to educational policies. The pandemic has, to me, made it more obvious that the teachers union exercises undue influence, over the administration, over the board of ed, but especially over school parents. Anyone who thinks minority students and special ed students have not been set back in a major way by non-classroom instruction is probably waiting for the results of sociological research to decide, which will probably come out the same time the pandemic ends. These kids are being left behind in a district, believe it or not, that purports to be especially sensitive toward such groups. Parents have sued the district over this issue, just as parents sued a few years back claiming minority exclusions. The point, it seems to me, is that when parents feel they have no say, for whatever reason, lawsuits follow, especially today. The voices of parents are becoming more and more muted. Want another example. Just wait until the district "algorithms" take over in deciding where your child goes to school. That parental responsibility is being taken away right from under everyone's eyes in the name of a draconian desegregationist policy that steamrolls over family rights or any parent that tries to get in its way. Time soon for some more lawsuits is my prediction. 


Formerlyjerseyjack said:

 Yes, we are all in this together. That's why I was glad to hear about the hundreds of taxpayers who each chipped in an additional $100 to their community (Maplewood/South Orange) to make voluntary sacrifi.... 

What? That didn't happen? 

Thinking back, reminds me of when I was teaching in Jersey City. September, 2005, a new dude shows up.... introduce myself, ... says he taught in Columbia H.S.

"Christ." says "I, why did you leave a cushy job like that?"

"Pay."

Me?  When I retired from J.C., I was making $89k with just a B.A.  (2006), with 10 years of seniority.

 


Homeowners contribute to the cause with each property tax increase, nearly 60% of every increase going on the school side, this is all well-known.


higgins said:

 My starting point is that parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children and, therefore, that they should not be an afterthought when it comes to educational policies. The pandemic has, to me, made it more obvious that the teachers union exercises undue influence, over the administration, over the board of ed, but especially over school parents. Anyone who thinks minority students and special ed students have not been set back in a major way by non-classroom instruction is probably waiting for the results of sociological research to decide, which will probably come out the same time the pandemic ends. These kids are being left behind in a district, believe it or not, that purports to be especially sensitive toward such groups. Parents have sued the district over this issue, just as parents sued a few years back claiming minority exclusions. The point, it seems to me, is that when parents feel they have no say, for whatever reason, lawsuits follow, especially today. The voices of parents are becoming more and more muted. Want another example. Just wait until the district "algorithms" take over in deciding where your child goes to school. That parental responsibility is being taken away right from under everyone's eyes in the name of a draconian desegregationist policy that steamrolls over family rights or any parent that tries to get in its way. Time soon for some more lawsuits is my prediction. 

 Great.

And your suggestion is to do what?



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