During the July 30th Talbot County Board of Education meeting, the School Board passed a reopening plan. The plan would begin bringing students back into schools in a phase-in model, starting the second week of school. The plan, according to the Talbot County Education Association (TCEA), does not take into account the health and safety of teachers and instructional assistants.
The county’s plan goes against what a majority of parents and teachers want, which is virtual instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we acknowledge the challenges of online learning, we insist that our educators health must be paramount in any reopening plan. We also note that most of the other Eastern Shore counties are beginning the first semester virtually.
This week, TCEA sent a letter opposing the plan to the Talbot County School Board, highlighting the concern that several Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations were not being followed. Specifically, the plan did not ensure a minimum of 6 ft. of social distancing and said that spacing would be dependent on how many students would need to be in a classroom.
The CDC also recommends plexiglass for when social distancing cannot be maintained, which the schools will not provide in all workspaces. The plan did not address how classroom desks or bathrooms will be cleaned between student groups, another recommendation by the CDC. Some special education students with physical disabilities will not be able to physically distance or wear masks, putting their teachers and support staff at risk.
Andrew J Burke