As stated in previous correspondences, we set out with what we thought was the best plan to address the instructional needs of our quarantined students. We also mentioned that this plan would need to be reviewed to make sure it was working for our students and sustainable for our teachers.
The LUT and Administration met on Thursday and Friday of last week and there will be a shift in how we deliver instruction to our quarantined students. Even though all details have not been ironed out, the anticipated changes are as follows:
· In grade levels K-5, quarantine instruction will be enhanced by providing the quarantine students with ‘live sessions’ during the day via Google Meet to help with clarification and support. This will operate as it did last year with teachers being paid to offer these opportunities during their prep.
· In grade levels 6-12, teachers will receive training over the next few weeks on Screencastify and, as of October 18th, teachers will have the choice to use Screencastify or to turn their cameras on to deliver instruction to quarantined students.
Although we are pivoting to a new model much sooner than I expected, please keep in mind that this is not a mandatory subject of bargaining. The District retains the right to unilaterally impose the use of cameras in our classrooms. Our response is to make sure that we are at the table to discuss the impact such a decision will have on our membership. Like the recent past, we will again codify certain safeguards in an MOA to protect our members and establish appropriate parameters of usage for our students.
In meeting with the District, our goal was to buy some time and gain some flexibility for our teachers. But, most importantly, to ensure that we have a model that will address only those students that are quarantined due to Covid – no one else. This needs to be enforced and there can be no exceptions to this rule. It is also important that we do not find ourselves in a ‘concurrent learning’ situation like we did last year in the hybrid model. Students in quarantine will be considered ‘passive learners’ and there will be no expectation that the teacher engage with the student(s) at home during the lesson. We are presently in an ‘in-person’ model and the students in your classroom should remain your priority. Other safeguards will most likely resemble what we agreed to in our former MOA. We feel confident that we will have the support to enforce this model.
This was and continues to be a challenging issue to navigate, as every other stakeholder in the District wanted cameras turned on for the quarantine students. Like we typically do, we tried to tackle this problem collaboratively and seek some level of compromise. Thankfully, Central Office and the LUT agree philosophically that cameras in our classrooms are still just a response to a crisis, and their long-term use for reaching kids remotely is not an effective way of learning. Both parties remain steadfast that nothing will ever replace in person learning.
We will always have your best interests in mind, as we continue to adapt and overcome the many obstacles as we teach in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s hope that the downward trend in Covid cases and quarantines over the last week is some signal that we are in the final wave of this nightmare. Further information on training and other issues regarding this shift will be forthcoming.