Posts Tagged ‘Administrative Leadership’

At LEAST 97,000 Children Tested Positive for COVID in the last 2 Weeks of July. My Question Remains? Why Even Consider Opening

August 10, 2020 Leave a comment

Here’s the headline from the NYTimes latest coronavirus story:

Positive in Last 2 Weeks of July

I can hear the response now from the White House: “Well of COURSE they fond lots of positives! They did lots of tests and when you do lots of tests you find lots of positives!”

Meanwhile, school districts need to figure out whether to open, where the $$$ will come from to do so, and whether anyone will show up if they do. Parents, in the meantime, are in limbo waiting to see IF schools will open and, if they do, whether to send their children and, if they don’t, how to work from home or go to work if their children are not in school. Hobson’s choices all the way around.

My question from a week or so ago remains: “Why Even Consider Reopening?”

And that question should have even more traction now that it is clear that additional federal funding is highly unlikely…. and leads to another question: “Why spend any more money or any more time making reopening plans that require MORE spending when those plans may go out the window if COVID continues to spread in your school district?”


Trump Wants to Blame Teachers for Problem He Created

July 27, 2020 Comments off

Public school English teacher and author Anne Lutz Fernandez wrote an NBC editorial describing the blame game going on in Washington DC where President Trump is trying to shift the blame for the failure to open schools onto teachers. Ms. Fernandez patiently pushes back against this by noting that teachers are neither the heroes they were hailed as when they quickly adapted to remote learning nor the villains Mr. Trump is now making them out to be.

Ms. Fernandez understates what is going on. Mr. Trump and the GOP know that his base is fundamentally anti-intellectual and, as such, find teachers and especially good target. After all, teachers epitomize the educated class who continually point out how important education is and how it is the key to success. Unsuccessful students, they assert, will never be successful inline and that assertion echoes in the minds of every anti-intellectual be they economically successful or not.

But generic teachers are not nearly as fat a target as teachers’ unions… and it is the unions who are taking the blame even more than individual teachers. It is the union, after all, who protects the “bad apples” from being fired, the union that promotes the need for failsafe protection against COVID as a condition for returning to work, it is the union that wants teachers to continue being paid even if their courses and services are not being provided on line. And even parents who love their child’s teacher can be persuaded to feel antipathy toward the union… and if those parents are among the sizable minority who want schools reopened under any condition or among the majority who wish they didn’t have to ride heard over their unmotivated children having the union to blame depersonalizes the complicated issue of reopening and creates a “bad guy” everyone can agree is to blame.

Readers of this blog have, I hope, recall that I saw this one coming a while back… it didn’t take a lot of intuition or foresight to see that the GOP and the POTUS would be shifting the blame away from the ineptitude of the POTUS’ response to the pandemic to the usual suspects: teachers and people who try to avoid returning to work so they can collect undeserved welfare funds.

There is one thing I am dismayed over, however: the epidemiologists seemingly caved to the pressure from the POTUS and issued a set of mushy suggestions instead of guidelines or, better yet for decision makers, firm regulations. Had the CDC issued firm recommendations or regulations there would be only one debate on how best to open schools…. instead there are 13,000+ debates since virtually every governor has made the decision on whether to open or not one that local school boards can make… The buck on decision making gets passed… but the bucks from Washington seem to get lost….

If You Think There Will Be Clear, Unequivocal Guidance on Opening Schools… Think Again!

July 12, 2020 Comments off

Parents, teachers, and employers are all waiting for clear, unequivocal guidance on opening schools. Based on everything I’ve read, they will have to wait years to get that information. “How to Reopen Schools: What science and Other Countries Can Teach Us” NYTimes article in today’s paper by Pam Belluck, Apoorva Mandavilli and is a good case in point. Midway through the article, which offers lots of conflicting information and research, there is a section titled “The evidence from abroad”. Here it is:

So far, countries that reopened schools after reducing infection levels — and imposed requirements like physical distancing and limits on class sizes — have not seen a surge in coronavirus cases.

Norway and Denmark are good examples. Both reopened their schools in April, a month or so after they were closed, but they initially opened them only for younger children, keeping high schools shut until later. They strengthened sanitizing procedures, and have kept class size limited, children in small groups at recess and space between desks. Neither country has seen a significant increase in cases.

There have not yet been rigorous scientific studies on the potential for school-based spread, but a smattering of case reports, most of them not yet peer-reviewed, bolster the notion that it is not inevitably a high risk.

If I were a school superintendent I would not want to base my decision on “a smattering of case reports” that had “...not yet been peer-reviewed” to make my decision. Nor would I want to base my decision on the experience of “…countries that reopened schools after reducing infection levels — and imposed requirements like physical distancing and limits on class sizes — have not seen a surge in coronavirus cases” because our country has not uniformly taken the steps to reduce infection levels. And what the article doesn’t tell readers is the extent to which those successful countries provided schools with the physical resources they needed to reopen… which is clearly going to be a factor in making the decision about whether to open or not.

Here’s my take: the decision on reopening schools is analogous to the snow day decision. When I needed to decide on whether to open school or not when it snowed, some decisions were easy. For example, if there was 3″ of snow on the ground, snow falling at a rate that limited visibility, and pre-existing icy roads the  decision was a no-brainer. The tough ones were those where information was incomplete or ambiguous or cases where the conditions were varied within the district. For example, if weather services had conflicting forecasts with regard to the snowfall, the cloud cover was thick, but no snow had begun. Or, there was snow in one section of the district but sunshine in another section. Or, the roads were hazardous because of previous ice or snow storms. Or 25% of the staff lived in a region that was getting lots of snow while we might not get any….

And here’s one difference between the snow call and the reopening call: neither the Governor nor the President nor the cadre of voters who supported the President ever publicly questioned my judgement… only the parents… The reopening decision is the snow decision on steroids…