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Emotions run high as EUSD board hears pro/con on proposed return to in-class instruction


The Escondido United School Board met on January 21 to review parent and teacher comments and a variety of information to consider continuing with a preponderance of distance learning or reopening to in-class instruction, tentatively set for February 2, using the district’s hybrid protocols. 

EUSD Superintendent Dr. Luis Rankin-Ibarra said he had been hoping to find “trends” in the available data but the result of this review was “inconclusive,” and the board made no decision on reopening. 

The board will meet again this week (January 28) for further consideration and data review – the recent decline in community infections and Governor Newsom’s announcement of reopening opportunities likely to be part of the discussion.

Somewhat more than 30 statements by parents and teachers were read to the board at the January 21 meeting. The heated wording of some of those statements suggests that the board  probably won’t please everyone in deciding whether or not — or even when — to reopen.

On one side, the majority of statements from parents offered harsh negative critiques of the district’s current reliance on distance learning; but the comments from teachers generally highlighted the health risks of reopening and encouraged a delay to in-class instruction. This, one said, would avoid the difficulties and stress if resulting in another U-turn to the virtual teaching method. 

Besides debating the importance and impact of the rates of virus cases and infection, another issue raised was the willingness of district teachers to return to in-class instruction. A statement by one parent suggested that the virtual instruction approach essentially offered a 10-month “paid vacation” for district teachers. Another said that the board was “beholden” to the EEEA teacher’s union 

But Brandi Krepps, a teacher at Hidden Valley elementary school and vice president of the EEEA teachers’ union, said that the pandemic had required the entire instructional staff to work “ten times harder” over the past several months. She was especially critical of a statement by a board member — made at the previous board meeting — suggesting that district reopening would result in a blue-flu “sick-out,” meaning teachers refusing to show up for work. She called this “unfounded and irrational.”

The district’s zip code areas have all been in the Purple Tier – meaning the highest level of new infections. Within the schools, one graphic stated 155 total cases (36 in infectious state) in December, and 114 total cases (7 in infectious state) so far in January, including both staff and students. A total of 38 staff members were reported currently in quarantine.

Other graphs provided to board members presented additional student data. There was about a 100% increase in student absences compared to the previous year. As to report-card grades, there was generally a lower number of A, B and C grades; the number of D grades not greatly changed; and a higher number of F grades.

Rankins-Ibarra said that he is working with the district’s Design Team to develop ways to deal with and mitigate the learning loss indicated by the declines.

Additionally, in preparation for eventual return to in-class instruction, about 50% of the new air filtration systems being purchased by the district have been reported installed in the schools, and 100% by the end of January. The district is also sending out employment documentation letters to assist with the paper work needed to obtain vaccination.

An administrator also reviewed newly revised state guidelines concerning school safety procedures.

 

One response to “Emotions run high as EUSD board hears pro/con on proposed return to in-class instruction”

  1. Bill james says:

    The Escondido Board of Education and even more so, Mr. Ibarra (doesn’t deserve the Dr. title) have failed in their duty to look after the welfare of their employees with heir latest decision to re-open. They have put the lives of each and every employee and each every member of their extended family at risk. They have failed to be transparent with the public about their decision making. For this they are cowards and they must be held accountable.

    First, they must not be allowed any peace. Each and every employee and each every member of their home will now be forced to live with the anxiety of Covid-19 infection. As we can read in professional journals, short and long term consequences of covid infection are: death, heart damage, lung damage, kidney damage, brain damage and brain fog, along with many more. They and their family must now live with that same anxiety, it is only fair, correct? Why should they be able to make the decision to put others in harms way, but keep themselves and their families safe. This is the ultimate display of the powerful subjecting the powerless to unfair treatment. The ultimate show of Cowardice.

    Secondly, they must not be allowed to continue in their roles. Their is no justification for their choice for it puts the very people they are tasked with protecting at incredible risk. They received the data from the teachers association. They know it is not safe but took the easy and cowardly way out to receive funding and to quiet the angry mob.

    They put many lives at risk and must be held accountable. Each and every board member along with their families must be held accountable. Why do they deserve any better than what they expect out of their employees and their employees families? Why do they and their families deserve any more safety than what they are allowing their employees? WHY would cowards like them deserve any peace? WHY?

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