Escondido, CA

Classical Academies announces full return to in-person instruction; responds to teacher concerns

Classical Academies charter schools (Escondido) has announced that it will fully reopen with in-person instruction at the start of the spring semester on January 19. All employees will be required to return to all campuses for in-person instruction, Tuesday through Thursday, according to Cameron Curry, Classical Academies CEO.

The announcement was made to teachers by Curry via YouTube video this past Monday, since deleted. In the video – titled “The Elephant in the Room” — Curry said that any teachers concerned with returning to in-person instruction should “reach out” to the human resources department concerning their employment.

The announcement prompted a variety of questions from the system’s teachers, but Curry said there was no attempt to “threaten” loss of employment. He noted the current general atmosphere of anxiety and misinformation, and that the intent was to encourage “private discussion” concerning a teacher’s individual circumstances.

In an email to the system’s teachers to address their concerns, Melissa Morey, chief human resources officer, states that “reaching out” to HR does not constitute a teacher’s decision to leave their employment.

She writes, “No! We know you need a place to share concerns and ask questions. We will not jump to any conclusions or push you in a particular direction.”

She goes on to address some of the questions that have been raised: 

• Those with a medical condition and asking for “an accommodation . . . will need to provide us a doctor’s note that specifies your medical disability and the accommodation requested.”

• Those who are caretakers of someone in poor health “likely will not qualify for an accommodation, [but] may qualify for leave under FMLA [Federal and Medical Leave Act]. We’re happy to help you understand your options specific to your unique situation.”

• For those “uncomfortable or scared to come back,” their concerns, she writes, will be presented to the leadership team. But she adds:  “However, what we want to make transparent is that we will no longer be able to extend the flexibility of the last 10 months. The expectation is that you will return to your worksite as we bring back more students.”

Curry told The Times-Advocate that because Classical Academies has offered some in-class instruction since March it is in conformance with the state’s Regional Stay at Home Order:  that schools previously operating as open can remain open. He added that the school’s campuses are using the basic masking, social distancing and other protocols recommended for health and safety. 

Commenting on news reports concerning a pattern of lower grades nationally, Curry said the impression from teachers and principals is that Classical Academies students are doing very well. He added that he expects to receive a student grades report on February 1 and provide a summary of those results. 

Classical Academies is one of three San Diego charter schools that has filed a class action lawsuit concerning claims of denied state funding. Along with Springs Charter Schools (Vista) and The Learning Choice Academy (San Diego) Classical Academies is seeking from the state what it called the “constitutionally required”financing (Times-Advocate, October 1). 

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