CTA School Reopening Request to SDPBC (6-26-2020)
Sent 6-26-2020 to SDPBC leadership and all members of the School Board of Palm Beach County
The Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association is making the formal request to maintain the current start date for the 2020-2021 academic year, but limit instruction to virtual means with no on-campus activity with students until such time that the medical and scientific community are able to convey that it is safe to do so. For the past few weeks CTA has maintained that employees/students should have the choice to return to campus for instruction or opt for virtual instruction. The dangerous trajectory of COVID-19 cases in Florida has led us to believe that those choices should still be offered, but not until a point in time when the on-campus option can be executed in a safe and responsible manner. We no longer believe that is possible at this time.
I believe I am stating what most, if not all of us know to be the unfortunate reality of our situation. I watched the latest school board workshop. I am in near-daily communication with the superintendent, his district leadership team, many of you on the school board, as well as our teachers and parents. Everyone desperately wants to go back to campuses as soon as possible. We all know that in-person instruction cannot be matched by any other form of instruction. However, this cannot be allowed to occur until it is safe to do so. All evidence indicates that for the foreseeable future, returning to on-campus instructional activity in any capacity is a dangerous gamble at best and dramatically heightens the risks to the lives of both employees and students.
By starting the academic year via virtual instruction, this will buy time for society to rededicate itself to proper social distancing practices and for the school district to better plan and prepare logistically for an eventual return to campuses; while still providing a high quality education to our students.
The Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association and the District have a meeting scheduled for this coming Tuesday to discuss instructional staff expectations and guidelines for virtual instruction (whether it be full-time, a hybrid scenario, or otherwise) for the upcoming academic year. I am 100% confident that we will come to consensus on everything we need to, in order to provide a rigorous and robust virtual educational experience for all of our students. I have already made clear to most of you that next to safety, the quality of education that we provide is the absolute most pressing concern for the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association and our members. Our educators are up to the task and will deliver for our students and families.
I do not make this request lightly. If I sat in any of your seats on the school board my position would not alter. As president of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association, I am prepared to make tough choices and come to agreements that likely will test the limits of many of my own union members and every educator in the district; in the name of doing right by our students and their academic growth. I am also prepared to live with the consequences those decisions because I would rather risk earning the scorn of those in disagreement with my choices than risk their very lives. I ask of you, if you cannot say honestly to yourselves and to the public that we are operating in a medically advisable manner and as safe as we can possibly be on our campuses, to make similarly tough choices in your respective roles.
There are no simple solutions to any of this. There are no decisions that will not create disaffected parties. As leaders it is our job to accept these facts and the reality we are facing and work hard to deliver the highest quality education possible for the students in our communities.
President – Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association