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Prince William School Board Still Split on 50-50 Plan

| July 15, 2020 | 0 Comments | Education

Photo by Ashleigh Henegar

The Prince William School Board votes tonight on how to reopen schools this September; however, school board members have not yet reached a consensus on how to proceed.

Talking to Bristow Beat, this afternoon, Lateef said the board is now split on the issue of whether to reopen schools in-person. He said it is a no-win situation all around. 

The school board voted 8-0 in a straw poll last week to reopen schools in-person at 50% capacity, utilizing a 2-day-a-week model. Students would do homework on other days, utilizing the school divisions new virtual platform. Special education students and teachers’ children may attend four days a week. The division would offer a virtual option for students who prefer or require it. 

Lateef explained they chose the model that made the most sense but actually voting to implement the plan in September is a more difficult decision.

“I need to have the confidence level that the school administration is able to deliver an in-person product that is safe and good for people,” said Lateef. “It’s not just the administration,” he said. It is not meant to criticize them.

“There is no fault in a pandemic, no fair in a pandemic. We’re all doing a little more than we ever signed up for,” the Chairman said.

This is the challenging all school divisions are facing, but more so because he said they do not having the money other school divisions such as Loudoun County have.

Prince William Schools will ultimately employ a two-day a week plan at some point, “whether it be on on September 8, October, or January,” he said, noting most school board members want to return to school at some point.

He has heard from thousands of teachers and wishes he could accommodate all of them, especially those uncomfortable returning to school. “The challenge is putting that all together,” he said “to try to accommodate everyone.” But he does not know if the numbers will add up. He said he absolutely feels for them.

Approximately 70% of parents surveyed said they want their children to return to in-person school in the fall. Thousands of parents are already upset to hear that school will no longer be five days a week. He is hearing from parents across the county who do not know what to do if schools do not open. Especially low-income families.

When Prince William County Schools reopens, he will be sending his four children back to class. 

He trusts the school division to open safely and adhere to science and the guidance set by the Virginia Department of Health and the local health departments. 

Occoquan School Board member Lillie Jessie, who served as a long-time elementary school principal, posted a message on her Facebook page, declaring her support for teachers.

She stated school employees should have had more representation in deciding how the schools would reopen and what precautions would be taken, and she has heard their concerns about school re-openings.

For me, the most important people were the actual workers who could have been randomly selected to be on an input committee. I saw no custodians, the ones required to do the dangerous work of sanitizing the building, bus drivers, who must transport students who may or may not have the virus, the itinerant teachers who are exposed to high numbers of individuals were not a part of the survey.

I HEAR YOU! I HEAR:

-Those of you who are scared to come to work but equally scared of losing your job and/or health benefits

-The middle and high school teachers who rightfully think that adolescents may or may not follow any of the mitigation strategies.

-The primary teachers who know that a kindergartner may or may not keep his mask on or may use it as a hair bow

-The teachers who sent those heart-wrenching stories about being ill and have love ones at home who are ill

-Those of you are afraid of interacting with your students but equally afraid of interacting with your peers

-Those of you who simply ask to have lunch without your students or cleaning up after them

-Those afraid of a deadly virus that takes no prisoners in a very silent and sometimes delayed way

-Those who lament about the learning that may not take place when you are not there to directly require learning for some but demand it of others and trick those reluctant learners by empowering them with belief in self-using the tools in your teacher box

-Those who were insulted that they were being asked to be health monitors without the provision of additional support or even the safety equipment needed to protect you.

– Finally, those who are afraid of the “unknown”

I GET IT and I AM Listening!

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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Category: Education

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