The president of the East Williston Teachers Association president expressed strong opposition to the district’s reopening plan at a Board of Education meeting on Wednesday.
“We are vehemently opposed to it,” said Meryl Fordin, reading a prepared statement. “I cannot understand how you think this plan is safe or responsible when nowhere in New York State at this time is there 100 percent occupancy in any location. Not at restaurants, not at stores, not at a house of worship, not even at the beach.”
Fordin, who teaches gym at North Side School, said she had reached out to the state Department of Education to review the district’s reopening plan and said the teachers were not consulted in the making of it.
She also raised concerns with a section of the reopening plan that outlines how often the school will be cleaned and disinfected, asking the board for more specifics about who would do these tasks and how.
Gov. Cuomo on Friday gave local school districts the right to decide whether to hold in-classroom learning full time, a mix of in-classroom and remote learning or just remote learning after conducting three virtual meetings with parents and another meeting just with teachers.
Board of Education President Mark Kamberg said at Wednesday’s meeting he heard and acknowledged Fordin’s concerns but that the governor has put out clear guidance on bringing students back.
“The governor has really given guidance that we are going back to school. The state, at a .9 infection rate, his guidance is clear until it’s not. At such a low rate, his intention is to send students back and if we don’t do it now, when are we going to do it? That direction is pretty clear from the governor,” Kamberg said. “As for this district, your comments are not correct. They’re simply not correct. You’ve heard the guidance, you’ve heard the questions answered and we’ll continue to answer the questions in regards to our protocols, in regards to our procedures, in regards to how we’re managing it and in regards to our extra space which, from what we’ve heard, is set up in all of our buildings.”
Superintendent Elaine Kanas said the cleaning protocols in which Fordin expressed concerns are being developed by building staff and are currently being discussed with the custodial staff.
Fordin is not alone among educators in her concerns.
A poll conducted by National Public Radio and Ipsos found that 82 percent of K-12 teachers nationally are concerned about returning to in-person classes and two-thirds prefer teaching primarily remotely at this time.