Lakewood plans all in-person school. 67 concerns from teachers
The Lakewood Education Association says it is "not comfortable" with the school district's plan to return to five day a week instruction in September and has a list of 67 concerns.
While many districts are planning a hybrid of virtual and in-person instruction, Michael I. Inzelbuch, the attorney for the district, told New Jersey 101.5 that Lakewood parents and guardians have overwhelmingly stated in surveys that they want their children in school.
"Our parents don't have the ability or luxury or courtesy of not going to work and getting paid," he said. "Many people, lucky for them, don't go to work can still use sick days or vacation days. Our parents primarily are working day-labor jobs, construction jobs, cleaning-home jobs. You don't come to work, you don't get paid."
A small minority of the families in the 100,000-person community, which has seen explosive growth over the last several years due to an influx of members of the Orthodox Jewish community, send their children to public schools. Most send their children to religious schools or other private schools. A statistical breakdown by U.S. News and World Report says 78 percent of Lakewood High School students are economically disadvantaged, and 95 percent are minorities, mostly Hispanic.
Inzelbuch said approximately 250 out of 6,400 completed surveys asked for virtual learning, which is 3.9% of respondents.
Education association spokeswoman Dawn Hiltner says that even if schools open as planned, the district could find itself back to all-virtual learning if there is flareup of novel coronavirus cases.
"Let's say we get everybody back and then in three weeks we wind up having to shut everything down again totally again because there's some serious outbreaks. That would be even harder on parents because once again they'd be in the same situation they were in March," she said. "Why don't we use the rest of the summer to try to work out some ways to either look at a hybrid plan, work with some of the community centers?"
Kimberlee Shaw, president of the Lakewood Education Association, said in a statement members are "not comfortable with the Lakewood School District’s facilities reopening plan."
"We are not confident in the school district’s ability to ensure the health and safety of the students, staff, and our community-at-large, Shaw said.
"Districts all over the state are planning hybrid or all-remote learning environments, but the Lakewood School District Administration and the Lakewood Board of Education have completely ignored these options. It is particularly troubling since Lakewood as a community has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19," Shaw said.
Lakewood has had Ocean County's highest number of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases during the pandemic, with 2,686 as of Saturday, according to the county health department.
Inzelbuch said that during the extended school year -- when the district reopened to in-person instruction in June for special-needs students -- 360 of 700 students were tested for COVID-19, with no positive results. Less than 10 children who showed symptoms were sent home, Izelbuch said.
The CHEMED and OHI health centers in Lakewood arre providing free tests using a swab method. They are looking into other means to administer the tests in response to concerns that students "will dread getting poked inside their noses every two weeks," Inzelbuch said.
Hiltner said that during the extended school year program during the summer, association members said many of cleaning protocols put in place by the district were not followed.
"A lot of the areas seem to be really dirty, especially the high-touch areas. With extended school year you have fewer children in the building. The members have a lot of concerns about when you bring everyone together how the district will be able to keep up," Hiltner said.
Hiltner said when it came to putting together the district's plan, "it's not as collaborative in Lakewood as it is in other districts."
"We have invited the union to meet with (the school) board at two public meetings to no avail," Inzelbuch said.
In an email sent to union leadership on Sunday from Izelbuch, the district stood by its plan.
"Although it would be easier to implement a 'hybrid learning' plan, the superintendent and board are requesting that the district as a whole, rise to the challenge,and implement a safe and effective full in-person learning experience," Inzelbuch wrote.
"The association is trying to deal with this in a diplomatic way trying to work collaboratively with the school district to address the concerns," Hiltner said. "I'm sure as we get closer to school opening if things don't start to improve from our perspective that there may be something that the teachers may want to do. Some type of action. However right now there's nothing in the works."
She said that there is no place teachers would rather be than in their classrooms, and agrees with pediatricians who say that school is generally the best place for kids.
"But all those studies were done under normal circumstances. We're not in normal times and the health and safety of our students and families as well as our members needs to take precedence right now. We'd rather shut things down maybe for a couple of months and make sure we get this right than it last any longer than it has to," Hiltner said.
The Lakewood Education Association provided the Townsquare News Network with its breakdown of 67 concerns, as well as answers he provided in consultation with superintendent Laura Winters. The questions and district answers are below. The association's first two questions and answers appear to be omitted from a list send to the Townsquare News Network.
Inzelbuch said many of the concerns are addressed in the district's reopening plan. The association said in an email that the "limited responses we’ve received from the administration and board are unacceptable and do not properly address the aspects necessary to safely return to full in-person learning."
Questions Sent to the Superintendent by the Lakewood Education Association (District answers are italicized. Any bolded text and capital letters reflect the same in the district's response.):
3. Hand washing breaks are the responsibility of the teacher.
Teachers are responsible for having their students take handwashing breaks. Some classrooms have sinks, some do not. You will have to improvise depending on your school and your classroom.
4. Will the District have enough substitutes?
The Lakewood School District will be entering into contract with substitute teacher and paraprofessional companies other than Source 4 Teachers.
5. When do teachers have time to post on their Google Classroom?
Teachers can post on their Google Classroom during their Prep Period
6. When are custodians cleaning touchpoints?
Custodians have been cleaning touchpoints throughout the entire day.
7. How will the CST, IRS, OT, PT, Speech, and ESL meet with their students?
CST members, OT, PT, & Speech Therapists have been evaluating students for several months now!
Plexiglas has been purchased for therapists to continue their services. Students will wear their face coverings and shields for added protection.
ESL Teachers push-in with the classroom teacher.
8. Do Face Shields and Gators need to be worn together?
The District strongly suggests that everyone wears both.
9. How will gym equipment be cleaned between classes?
Special cleaning equipment has been purchased to clean equipment.
10. Will there be enough custodial staff to clean the outdoor play equipment? The District has special cleaning equipment to clean outdoor equipment.
11. Can staff be allowed to put in their own maintenance requests into school dude?
Staff members must give their requests to the assigned school secretary who will input the requests into School Dude.
12. Is the air conditioning system in each building running at maximum efficiency?
All air- conditioning systems have been checked and all filters were changed on July 1, 2020.
13. Can we come up with a much more accountable way for the custodians to complete their work of cleaning?
Aramark will create a checklist for custodial staff.
14. Are there social distancing markers for students arriving and departing school?
As stated in the plan, students will be going directly to their classrooms Social distancing markers will be on the floors inside the school (in the plan).
15. Can a Google Doc be utilized for COVID-19 questionnaires instead of daily house calls? Can these forms remain in a Drive folder and not be printed due to lack of school printers and home/school contamination concerns?
As stated in the plan, yes.
16. Which teacher is responsible for calling in secondary school to avoid duplicate calls to the same family?
As stated in the plan, since students are in Cohorts, teachers can divide the students up and share the responsibility of making the calls.
17. Students will be given a washable facemask, how can cleanliness be ensured as many students have difficulty laundering uniforms/clothes regularly?
Like the laundering of uniforms, this is outside the control of the District.
18. Is it mandated or suggested that students wear masks on the bus?
In the classroom? Mandated, as per of the dress code.
Recess – Mandated, as part of the dress code
Physical Education – If students are outside during gym, social distancing, and taking part in physical activity, they can take their face covering off. If they are sitting with their class they must put it back on.
19. When and how will teachers be issued their PPE?
September 1, 2020
20 . Contracted time is 5 minutes before students, how can all staff enter,
Staff members in all my years, have never arrived at one time. The questionnaire is online. They complete it while sitting in their car. Enter the building and take their temperature on the Kiosk.
21. What happens to a student who gets sick? Is there a sick room in each building?
As stated in the plan, there is an isolation room.
22. Once it is determined that a student is sick how will the contact tracing work?
The nurse and assistant principal will track who the child has been in contact with . Read the plan.
23. For staff who share classrooms and texts will extra books be purchased or will books be cleaned between usage?
Speak to your building principal about ordering extra books if you are a staff member who shares books.
24. When a parent reports yes to any of the questions, including fever - what is the process for additional reporting?
If you are asking the question every day, you would basically know the time frame with the exception of Monday, over the weekend.
25. If back to full capacity and on site teaching, will homerooms be reinstated to a lot for testing and breakfasts? See the plan.
26. Will students follow the same cohort or switch classes?
See the plan.
27. Will clear face masks be purchased for any staff or students who may need to see facial expressions, read lips, visualize etc.?
Students can wear just the face shield.
28. If buses cannot run at full capacity, are there enough buses to social distance and get students to school on time?
See the plan.
29. How do we verify that the buses are being sanitized during runs between for our schools as well as private schools?
It is in the bid specifications that bus drivers must sanitize between runs.
30. What about the students, due to limited busing, that are arriving at school 30 -40 minutes early?
Please read the plan. This will not be occurring this year.
31. Who and how will the buses be wiped down and disinfected during runs? The Bus
Drive is responsible for disinfecting the bus between runs.
32. How will taking student temps as they board the bus affect the times of the bus runs?
It will taking longer.
33. How will you accommodate “social distancing” during bus arrival and dismissal?
READ THE PLAN.
34. How will arrival and dismissal be handled during inclement weather to maintain social distancing.
READ THE PLAN.
35. What are the other districts in the state doing in September?
I only work for the Lakewood School District.
36. Could remote learning be an option?
As stated in the plan, remote learning is an option for student who are immunocompromised and have medical documentation.
37. The document states that all Professional Development, Faculty Meetings, Grade Level meets MUST be virtual. What does that mean? Is this with staff in school or at home? If at home what time?
The same time as always, while you are in school, as staff must not gather in large groups, as not to be exposed. Your health and safety is the District’s top priority!
38. What will the first three days of school look like? The document states that PD will be recorded so staff can watch. Are staff watching at school or home? When?
Staff members will be in school preparing your classrooms. Meetings will be held virtually, as not to gather staff in large groups. The goal as stated in the document is to maintain staff and students in COHORTS.
39. Are all Elementary Special Areas going to the classroom (Art, Music, Computers, Science-Lab and Library meeting with students? In addition, Special Area teachers are coming into contact with many more students than classroom teachers. (ex. 30 students x up to 7 classes daily)
40. How will teachers be scheduled for their lunches and preps?
The building principals will schedule staff for their lunch and preps as they do every year!
41. How will phys. ed. meet? If it cannot be held outside what will happen?
The cafeteria, all purpose rooms, library, computer labs, gymnasiums, etc… will be utilized when this occurs.
42. What will happen if recess cannot be held outside?
Students will have “Free” time in their classrooms.
43. How will emergency drills and lockdowns be handled?
Read the Plan.
44. Students often share supplies such as books, labs, sports equip.etc. How will we handle that?
Equipment has been purchased to clean such items.
45. Will the district be purchasing a “bin” for each student? Will enough supplies be ordered so that students do not need to share?
Items may be purchased through the building principal.
46. Are students allowed to use hallway lockers or do they have to carry all of their “stuff” with them?
Hallway lockers may be used; however students will be on a schedule for when they can “go” to their locker.
47. What about students that go to Vocational School?
Students will go to Vocational School as planned if they are open.
48. What about staff who have family members who travel for work. Will they have to self-quarantine every time a family member returns home?
Most companies do not permit traveling at this time. However, if a staff member has this issue, they can email me ASAP.
49. Can ESY and summer programs be removed from this packet as the title states it is a Restart and Recovery Plan for September? We would like the document to be as condensed as possible.
NO, It must be reported the NJDOE.
50. Who are the hallway monitors?
As you know, building principals create this schedule.
51. How are students being dismissed by class?
Please read the Plan.
52 . How are LHS/LMS having lunch in the lunchroom in addition to classrooms?
Please read the Plan.
53. Document said classroom teachers and paraprofessionals will contact students in their class every night.
Please read the plan.
54. Is anyone monitoring safety protocols when outsiders are using the building on off hours?
All building are cleaned every night prior to the start of the school day.
55. Who is sanitizing the classrooms in between classes when LHS/LMS are switching classes?
Read the Plan.
56. Can you please highlight any changes when you send a new draft?
Going forward, I can. There were too many changes on this document.
57. Feeding therapists have to be in very close contact with students.
What is the question?
58. How will in class instruction/schoolwork be completed - using paper or technology?
That is up to the individual teacher.
59. How will technology equipment be sanitized?
There are wipes made specifically for technology.
60. How will gym equipment be cleaned between classes?
See above question that was answered.
61. In the manual staff is to keep a daily Google Classroom. When do we get time to post?
During your PREP PERIOD.
62. What constitutes exposure?
Read the plan. For more information go to: cdc.com
63. Will students in LMS and LHS travel to specials or classes without supervision?
64. What if your class does not have a sink?
Refer to previously answered question.
65. What technology should we use in school when the students have all of the technology at home?
The District ordered new Chromebooks. The District will also be applying for the NJDOE’s new grant that will be released next week.
66. Where are the teachers supposed to store student “bins”?
That would be up to the individual teacher.
67. How do teachers do small groups when there is not enough room in the classroom?
We are all in this together; you will have to be creative!