Teachers union calls for sticking with remote learning

Betsy PriceEducation, Headlines

Stephanie Ingram

Stephanie Ingram

The president of the union representing Delaware’s 12,000 public school teachers is responding to Gov. John Carney’s desire to go for hybrid learning next week with a call for remote learning.

“If there is doubt, we ask that schools remain in the remote setting for the safety of staff and students,” Stephanie Ingram concluded in her 300-word statement, released Wednesday.

In a letter to school leaders, educators and parents on Tuesday, Carney, the Delaware Division of Public Health and the Delaware Department of Education urged Delaware schools to return to hybrid instruction when on Monday.

The letter – also signed by Dr. Karyl Rattay, the director of Public Health, and Susan Bunting, the secretary of Education – urges schools “to prioritize younger and more vulnerable students for in-person learning if operational challenges continue.”

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Although Delaware’s public schools are largely funded by the state, key operational decisions rest with local school districts, their boards, their superintendents and their other administrators.

That was shown last fall, with a wide range of when to start school and what modality – in-person, remote and hybrid – to use. (Back in July, Ingram again and again called for remote learning to begin the school year.)

The start of Ingram’s latest statement acknowledges that setup. “The short response is that the decision to stay remote or go hybrid remains a local decision.”

Union leaders have met with Bunting and other officials to discuss operational or safety issues, she wrote. “Unfortunately, we don’t know if those concerns have been fully addressed.”

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Situation in New Castle County

The Appoquinimink School District is planning for hybrid learners to return to school on Monday. Plans were reviewed in a board workshop on Tuesday (the YouTube video has been watched several thousand times) and will be addressed in the superintendent’s next weekly newsletter.

“Considerations that may trigger a temporary return to virtual learning at the class, bus, grade or school level include operational considerations like how many staff in a building have tested positive, are out for testing, are quarantining due to possible exposure, or have symptoms of the virus that need to be checked out; as well as the limited availability of substitute teaching staff and bus drivers,” public information office Lilian Miles wrote. “Just like everything else attached to this pandemic, we will be taking things on a case-by-case basis.”

The Brandywine School District begins hybrid learning on Monday for K-5 and on Jan. 19 for grades 6-12.

The Christina School District announced on Monday that it’s going hybrid, starting next Monday. “On Monday, January 11th, all Hybrid Cohort A students Grades PK-12 including special programs, will return to  In-Person Learning with Hybrid Cohort B students returning on Thursday, January 14th to In-Person Learning.”

A Jan. 7 note on the Colonial School District’s home page says  “a plan to bring students back for in-person learning in January is underway as scheduled.” The district is phasing in in-person learning from Monday through Feb. 8.

Red Clay on Campus students and staff will resume in-person learning on January 11,” a sticky note on the Red Clay School District’s home page says.

It should be noted that schedules and modalities changed rapidly last fall.

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