The Knox County Education Coalition released recommendations for returning to school amid COVID-19 and they include a requirement that students and staff wear face coverings while inside school buildings and on buses. Here’s more from WVLT:
The Knox County Education Coalition released an open letter on reopening recommendations for Knox County Schools Tuesday afternoon.
The open letter was addressed to the Superintendent, Knox County School Board, County and City Mayors and the Health Department.
The recommendations from the Education Coalition stated all students, teachers and staff should wear face coverings or masks on buses and inside buildings.
Knox County Schools will release its reopening plan on Wednesday.
Apparently, some teachers are concerned that school districts may ask them to sign waivers releasing the district of liability for COVID-19-related illness. The Tennessee Education Association has some advice should that happen:
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Educators and Coronavirus/Liability Waivers My district is asking all employees to sign a waiver releasing it from liability related to the current pandemic. I do not want to sign the waiver, but I cannot afford to lose my job, nor do I want to lose my rights. What should I do? Ideally, members should not sign any sort of waiver of their legal or contractual rights that they do not fully understand and voluntarily agree to without first speaking to their UniServ coordinator or local association leadership for guidance. If necessary, local leadership or UniServ will involve TEA Legal so members can be advised of their rights with respect to signing the waiver before being required to do so. In the event a directive to sign a liability waiver does not afford an opportunity to have the content of the waiver reviewed by the Association prior to signing, members facing the real or perceived threat of reprisal should consider signing the waiver with a handwritten statement including the following concepts adjacent to their signature: 1) The signature appears as the result of the directive and is not voluntary; or 2) The signature does not constitute consent to the terms of the waiver, nor should it suggest the full extent of the waiver was understood at the time the signature was made. If an educator is required to sign a waiver and is not provided a copy of the signed waiver, educators should follow up with their administrator via email and ask for a copy.
Here is a waiver from a Florida school district:
If you’ve been asked to sign a waiver and have a copy, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tennessee’s largest organization representing teachers is calling on all school districts to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) if or when schools resume operation. Here’s more:
TEA calls on every Tennessee school district to provide personal protective equipment, all necessary sanitation supplies, and enough support professionals necessary for maintaining the safest possible teaching environments if or when students and educators return to public schools.
The move comes just weeks before school is slated to start in many Tennessee districts. It also comes amid a continued spike in cases of COVID-19 in the state.
Jeff Bryant writes about how the COVID-19 pandemic is waking America up to the reality that schools are, in fact, essential. To everything.
Here’s a bit of what he has to say:
In May, as the pandemic was just about to explode from hotspots in the Northeast to a nationwide contagion, Forbes contributor Nick Morrison argued, “Until children go back to school, parents will have to remain at home looking after them, and it will be impossible to fully restart the economy.”
New York Times op-ed writer Spencer Bokat-Lindell, marveling at how European countries were able to reopen schools, wrote, “Restarting classes is essential not only to parents’ mental health and children’s development, but also to reviving the economy.”
“We cannot have a functioning economy, or any hope of reducing economic inequalities, without a functioning educational system,” wrote Paul Starr for the American Prospect in June.
“A consensus is emerging among top economists and business leaders,” reported Heather Long for the Washington Post in July, “that getting kids back into day cares and schools is critical to getting the economy back to normal.” She quoted chief executive of JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon saying, “If schools don’t open, a lot of people can’t go back to work.” Those pronouncements on the need to reopen schools in order to save the economy have turned into a drumbeat in the halls of government.
At a June hearing on Capitol Hill, senators and federal health officials called for “schools to resume some form of normal operations in the upcoming academic year, due in part to concerns about a weakened economy and the long-term welfare of children and families,” according to Education Week
The Tennessee Education Association (TEA) has joined district leaders and others from across the state in calling on Tennessee to cancel the 2020-21 administration of TNReady testing and the teacher evaluation tied to those tests in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s more from a press release:
District leaders, educators and parents are grappling with what the 2020-2021 school year will look like for Tennessee students. TEA’s priority is always the health, safety and welfare of students and educators. There are other critical issues TEA is working on as plans to resume school are finalized.
TEA calls for a moratorium on state mandated testing for the 2020-2021 school year.
“In a normal year, TNReady is a deeply flawed measure of academic achievement and teacher performance,” said TEA President Beth Brown. “Educators and students already face many new challenges and additional stress in the coming year, it would be unfair and inappropriate to put them through the state’s high-stakes summative testing system. Moreover, because of the wide disruption in instruction there will be no validity or reliability in TNReady data.”
Teachers already measure student progress through grading assignments and teacher-created tests that are valid as any accountability system. Many Tennessee teachers also use state approved benchmark assessments that provide important data to inform instruction and gauge student needs.
“Assessments, both benchmark and those created by teachers, are valuable tools because they are designed or chosen by education professionals closest to the classroom,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, that is not what we have with TNReady. Additionally, the millions allocated for state testing could be better spent implementing safety measures and increasing the number of school nurses.”
TEA calls for a suspension of the teacher evaluation system for the 2020-2021 school year.
With the possibility of some students learning in-person, some online and others in a hybrid format, there is no way to effectively implement the TEAM rubric or other teacher evaluation models. There is not a single teacher evaluation model approved by the State Board of Education that is valid and reliable in this educational environment. Tennessee teachers need support, encouragement and flexibility as we navigate teaching in a pandemic.
TEA members and staff are advocating at the local level to ensure class size, duty free lunch and planning time mandates are upheld and not included in local waiver requests to the state.
Enforcing social distancing, proper hygiene, and wearing masks where appropriate and possible will be essential in preventing the spread of the coronavirus in school buildings. All these important steps will already be a tremendous challenge with existing class sizes. We cannot keep students and educators safe while also increasing class sizes.
Regardless of the learning model adopted by a district, educators will inevitably have increased workloads. Planning for virtual learning or a combination of in-person and online instruction will require additional planning time and resources. Educators are already being asked to do more with less. They should not be asked to give up their right to necessary planning time and the ability to eat lunch.
“I understand this is an incredibly challenging time and district leaders must make some difficult decisions as we draw closer to the start of a new school year. On behalf of Tennessee’s hardworking educators, TEA is imploring district and state leaders to prioritize the health and wellbeing of students and educators, and their teaching and learning environment,” Brown said.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport
Your support – $5 today – makes reporting education news possible.
July 24 at 1:00 PM (CT) The Educators’ Cooperative will host a virtual conversation titled “Antiracist Teaching, Learning, and Leading from the Classroom” in an effort to openly address the legacies of segregation, white-flight, and white supremacy in schools. The teachers of EdCo are dedicated to facilitating this essential antiracist work cross-sector, for the benefit of all students. Registration for the event will open Tuesday, July 7 at 8:00 AM (CT) at educatorscooperative.com.
Tickets, priced from $15-$60, are limited in order to ensure active engagement by all participants.
The event will feature four expert panelists:
José Luis Vilson is a Teacher, Activist, Author of This is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class and Education (Haymarket Books, 2014), and Executive Director of EduColor, an organization dedicated to race and social justice issues in education. Vilson asserts, “The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of police, plus the ensuing uprisings across the world have created a level of urgency among white educators to become more aware of their complicity. I’m choosing to engage this new set of subscribers with a huge sense of responsibility and awareness of the moment.”
Ansley Erickson is a Columbia University Professor and Author of Making the Unequal Metropolis: School Desegregation and Its Limits (University of Chicago Press, 2016), an exploration of educational inequality in Nashville from World War II through the end of Nashville’s court-supervised school desegregation in 1998. History of Education Quarterly called the book “a comprehensive history that explores how factors both within the school system and without have interacted to increase inequality.”
Christiane Buggs is an MNPS Board Member, graduate and former educator. She serves on the EdCo board and on the founding board of The Equity Alliance, where she actively works to equip African Americans with tools and strategies to engage in the civic process.
Alecia Ford is an award-winning MNPS Teacher. She will facilitate a post-panel workshop for teachers to share resources, connect with accountability partners, and make concrete plans for implementation.
EdCo Executive Director Greg O’Loughlin is “honored to host this distinguished panel of activists, authors, public servants, and educators for what promises to be a meaningful and thorough discussion.”
The Educators’ Cooperative is a Nashville, Tennessee based non-profit organization that provides a professional learning community for K-12 teachers. EdCo provides professional development and support for educators to collaborate across sectors, disciplines, and career stages, aiming to revolutionize teacher development and leadership by focusing on the common ground all teachers share.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport
Apparently, that’s what’s being considered in Shelby County.
WMC-5 has more:
According to a letter sent by Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray to SCS teachers, the district is considering adding 15 days to the upcoming school year to make up for time lost when schools shut down early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Highlights of the plan being considered include:
Fall break changing to a four-day weekend instead of a full week
Thanksgiving break starting Wednesday instead of the full week
The school year ending June 7 for students, nine days later than scheduled
SCS estimates the cost for the plan could be between $25 million to $30 million