Given the statewide spike in coronavirus cases, Baltimore County elementary school teacher and Maryland State Education Association President Cheryl Bost has sent the below letter to State Superintendent Karen Salmon requesting a statewide announcement that schools will operate in distance learning mode until at least the end of the semester. Although educators are eager for the day when they can return safely and sustainably to in-person learning, the state should provide certainty to families who need to make plans and allow them to focus on a single, safe, and stable mode of learning rather than react to on-again, off-again announcements about the status of schools.
“Let’s get through the holiday season with clarity and consistency. Then based on health metrics, whether schools are meeting health and safety protocols, and the feasibility to begin transitioning to reopening systems to in-person, let’s reevaluate plans so we can get to the goal we all share: in-person learning, when it is safe and sustainable to do so,” wrote Bost.
Maryland is far exceeding the cautionary metrics set in the state’s November 13 COVID-19 Guidance for Maryland Schools which call for limited or no in-person programs if the testing positivity rate exceeds 5% (it is currently 6.6%) and if the new case rate exceeds 15 per 100,000 (it is currently 38.14 per 100,000).
Bost’s letter also discussed how this school year has created an ever-expanding workload that risks burning out dedicated educators, who are already in short supply. “Virtual learning, and real or potential switches back and forth from virtual to hybrid modes of learning, is spiking workloads to precipitous levels for too many educators,” Bost wrote. “We urge you to work with educators and local school system leaders to prevent these elevated workload levels from turning into a prolonged burnout crisis that sets us even further back in our already struggling efforts to recruit and retain outstanding educators in our profession.”
The full letter may be found at this link.