BUFFALO, N.Y. — The countdown continues…
20 days to go until students in the Buffalo Public School District welcome a new school year, but for their teachers, the countdown to the fall semester is just 13 days away – with no official reopening plan or their revised curriculum to date.
On Tuesday, BPS held yet another virtual meeting. This time the teachers had the opportunity to ask as many questions and share as many concerns as they could.
This meeting was held on the same day that the Buffalo Teachers Federation released a memo calling for Governor Cuomo and the NYS Department of Health to recognize the "District-Wide, All Teacher Meeting" as not only "in violation of NYS DOH Guidance" but also as, "an insult to the NYS DOH and Governor Cuomo."
Nonetheless, over 1,000 teachers logged on to take part in the conversation. Many concerns were not new, neither were some of the questions. These teachers did not back down when it came to asking about their own health and safety. Questions around issues like sanitation, transportation, accountability, mask policies, social distancing, learning options, curriculum, technology and even school supplies kept resurfacing. Many teachers are asking for, "guidance" and "some clarity".
One teacher 2 On Your Side spoke to said, “it seems like the district is trying to chase its tail. I don’t even know, I just don’t know. And that’s where I’m at.”
During a 45-minute conversation over the phone, this same teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, shared more.
“There definitely is not enough time.”
“I know they have training that they’re going to be doing, but at this point, I have really just been looking online myself to figure this out.”
“We don’t know our curriculum. Our rosters. How can we create lesson plans?”
“I know a teacher who actually had COVID-19 and almost died. I can’t imagine how that teacher feels about getting back into a classroom.”
On Monday, during a zoom meeting intended for parents, Dr. Darren Brown-Hall, BPS Chief of Staff, said that a reopening plan will be shared, “sometime this week.”
To that, the teacher I spoke to said, “I think a lot of questions are just going to go by the wayside. It’s too soon.”
In response to many of the concerns shared, Dr. Brown-Hall had some thoughts to share as well.
“We knew, based on our survey back in June that this was the number one concern of parents, teachers and staff alike. The cleanliness of the buildings."
Dr. Brown-Hall mentioned that there will be disinfecting wipes in all classrooms for teachers and students, along with alcohol-based sanitizing throughout all the buildings and classrooms as well.
The transportation director, he continued, is in constant communication with the NFTA to ensure high students arrive and leave school safe and healthy, which in turn affects the teachers’ health and safety.
One thing the district is continuing to stress is that even when a plan is announced, it will remain a “working plan,” meaning changes will be made when appropriate.
The call for teachers to continue sharing their concerns and thoughts is something the district says it encourages, “we are taking everything shared in these meetings into consideration and reworking things constantly,” Dr. Brown-Hall concluded.
As for the teacher, the call ended with more questions.
For a list of upcoming BPS virtual meetings, visit the district’s Facebook page.