Let me say overall I think Dr. Greene has done a good job, and I don’t want to be to critical because I get reopening schools is incredibly difficult. Every moving part has lots of moving part. That being said canned answers to teachers and parents is unhelpful.
This is the response both a teacher and parent got and note they had different though overlapping concerns.
Much like our state and community, we are approaching this as “phase I” of the re-opening of our buildings. Each nine-week quarter, we will re-evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on our schools and determine if we can increase the time secondary school students are on campus. For now, the health considerations of students, staff, and their families leads us to this plan for the initial re-opening of our buildings.
Each school level presents different challenges. We had to envision how to implement guidelines to minimize the spread of Covid-19 throughout the full school environment, including changing of classes, meals, and buses. Our elementary schools are smaller and closer to students’ homes. Therefore, relatively fewer students ride the bus. Additionally, the elementary school learning environment enables us to better contain students in a single classroom, which is recommended by the CDC. This minimizes the number of students in hallways and common areas where social distancing is not possible.
For middle school and high school students, those factors are different and work against our ability to maintain precautions against disease spread. Middle and high schools have larger student populations, and buses are much more crowded. We are not able to keep students in the same classroom with the same group of students for the entire day. At lunch and every change in classes, hallways are full. Additionally, secondary school cafeterias do not have the capacity to serve all students while maintaining social distancing.
The hybrid attendance plan reduces the number of students on the bus. Typically we would have two to three students per seat. We will be able to reduce that to one to two students. A school typically filled with 1,000 to 3,000 students will be reduced to 500 to 1,500, creating more room for students to move without close contact. Combined with providing extensive access to hand sanitizer, opportunities for frequent hand washing, and the use of face coverings on buses and in common areas, we improve our capability to minimize COVID-19 spread for the benefit of students, staff, and all those family members they go home to after school.
Our hope is that by doing our part in the effort to control the spread, we can get back to normal as soon as possible. I do appreciate your perspective, and I hope this helps you understand a little more about our reasoning for the precautions we are taking.
Dr. Diana Greene
Concerns about masks, see above, concerns about distance learning, see above, concerns about child care, see above, concerns about your elementary school student, see above, concerns about your middle school student see above, concerns about your high school student, see above, concerns about this, that or the other thing, see above.
Also I have to say where I was alarmed by the DCPS plan, this letter absolutely horrifies me. First it reveals there are so many questions unanswered but it begs the question what doesn’t Dr. Greene and the school board get, if we don not have a robust mask and ease of movement policy, even if it is hard, then kids and staff will get sick and schools will close. That’s a problem, a big, big problem.