Help: Har­ford school sys­tem is putting me at risk.

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - Ben White, Bel Air

I am a teacher in Har­ford County. Over the years, I have put up with a great deal from the cen­tral of­fice. The list of silly, pa­ter­nal­is­tic, in­sult­ing, point­less and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive de­ci­sions made is long and in­glo­ri­ous. How­ever, I have never, un­til now, felt that I was at per­sonal risk due to the choices made by the school sys­tem (“Schools re­open­ing: Here’s how Mary­land ju­ris­dic­tions are han­dling the aca­demic school year amid the coron­avirus pan­demic,” Oct. 8).

Har­ford County Pub­lic Schools is call­ing all teach­ers back to the build­ings. My school will host all of 12 stu­dents. I dis­cov­ered that I will be teach­ing a to­tal of three of them. Since we have an al­ter­nat­ing sched­ule, this means that I will have one stu­dent on one day and two on the next. I am not alone. In fact, a col­league of mine will have ex­actly zero stu­dents. I will be con­duct­ing ex­actly the same les­son I have been teach­ing from home. Ex­cept that now I will have to talk through a mask to the stu­dents learn­ing re­motely.

As any­one who­has tried to hold meet­ings vir­tu­ally knows, it is of­ten nearly im­pos­si­ble to make your­self un­der­stood. So what are we do­ing? Why are we be­ing forced to ac­cept this risk? The sim­ple an­swer is that Har­ford County Pub­lic Schools de­cided to have learn­ing cen­ters for the stu­dents whose par­ents didn’t want them to stay at home.

So far, they have strug­gled to find staff will­ing to go into the schools to act as day­care providers for the stu­dents, and as a re­sult are un­able to live up to the prom­ises that were made. Clearly, some­one re­al­ized that the sys­tem could save the money be­ing spent on these providers and still keep the prom­ise made to run the learn­ing cen­ters by hav­ing the teach­ers come back to the build­ing.

I am lucky in that I am not in a high risk group and none of my fam­ily is ei­ther. How­ever, there are many teach­ers with small chil­dren, and at least one of my col­leagues is a re­cent can­cer sur­vivor. The ben­e­fit in ed­u­ca­tional terms to the stu­dents is, at best, noth­ing and, at worst, neg­a­tive, and the risk is ex­treme. To add in­sult to in­jury, we have been told that if we catch the coron­avirus we need to prove that it was be­cause of our con­tacts at school or our ab­sences will be counted as our prob­lem.

Mean­while, the staff at the cen­tral of­fice de­cided that they would not come into the build­ing but rather work re­motely be­cause it is not safe.

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