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Reopen Schools BUT

Original post made by Craig Kelso, Ponderosa, on Jan 21, 2021

After reading “Tim Talk” in the January 15th Pleasanton Weekly, I was disturbed by the simplistic premise outlined in his article. Nobody is saying children aren’t being hurt by not being in school but to blame the infamous “teachers unions” without addressing the very real risks, is not helpful to understanding the steps required to break the chain of infection of this pandemic.

Children are not immune from infection. They get it but don’t necessarily get seriously ill. However, some do die, just at a lower percentage than older adults. Unfortunately, they can transmit it to everyone else, including other children in the school, family, teachers, and school staff. Any of those people could be at high risk due to diabetes, obesity, or immunosuppression and could potentially die.

Although Tim seems to think the educational risk “dwarfs the total of deaths due to virus”. I respectfully and strongly disagree. Wait until it hits your family or others you care about. There are 400,000 families you could ask as of today and 500,000 projected by mid-February.

As for teachers who, yes, are being spoken for by the teachers unions, they are just like everyone else. Not only do they care for their own health, but they have families too, and in spite of the implications in the article, they care about their students as well.

I spent the last 14 years of my working career teaching Biology in High School and have great respect for the teachers AND staff I worked with. They cared about their craft, AND they cared about their students. Your implication they don’t is insulting. If you review the principles of the chain of infection (these can be found on the CDC website), you would understand that reopening without adequate protections would be a gift to the virus. I also suggest you consider what your plan would be to replace teachers and staff who become infected, and possibly die, from the virus. If you think there are legions of qualified teachers waiting to fill the breach, you are mistaken.

So, do we just sit back? We could open up but it would require us to do more than just reopen as usual. Teachers AND staff would have to have priority access to the vaccine. Temperatures would need to be monitored daily with quick tests available, quarantine procedures in place and there would need to be procedures to isolate sick students at school until parents could pick them up. However, the biggest problem would be crowding. Take a look at High School classrooms. They don’t have enough space for safe social distancing. They are designed for 30 students and often have 35. My point is this is not a “just open up” environment in the middle of a pandemic. It is not simplistic, it is complicated.

Which brings me to my last point--it is irresponsible to dump this on individual school districts to solve on their own. The formula for reopening should be designed by epidemiologists and healthcare professionals so that the districts have at least a chance of instituting a successful reopening. If this isn’t created by the CDC, then it should be done at the state level, based on science not politics.

Craig Kelso

Comments (9)

Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 21, 2021 at 7:12 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

The teachers union is a barrier to quality education and has been at least 50% responsible for the district failing to open when they could have. Our kids could and should be in school now.

The union leadership lambasted the community in the last dec town hall. They should be embarrassed as all other board members praised the above and beyond accomplishments of other sectors of the education support systems, and these two union leaders went on a 20 min rant trying to guilt the community for wanting their kids to have access to classroom education. I expect an apology and resignation from the second union leader, one was already resigning her role.

I don’t believe that these two are representing the hard working teachers in our district - and I never want to hear them talk about having children’s interest in their decisions. They clearly don’t.

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2021 at 8:34 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Teachers unions are 100% responsible for kids not being in school. Private schools are operating, and they're not union. This isn't hard to figure out.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 23, 2021 at 10:48 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I have grandkids in Texas who are in school (elementary). It seems there is hesitancy in the administration to open our schools, which they pass on to the board.. That could be because of unions on some level, but we are past two weeks after New Year’s and no one is back in school yet. Are we waiting for everyone to get vaccinated? Will you have to have a vaccination in order to be in school? It’s going to be a long time before our youngest children will see that day.

Posted by Linda
a resident of Civic Square
on Jan 25, 2021 at 9:43 am

Linda is a registered user.

Thank you Craig Kelso for your thoughtful and intelligent response. I'm so tired of seeing knee jerk reactions about the "awful teachers unions"! PUSD is blessed to have the best of the best teachers who care for our children and want to get back to the classroom...but NOT at the risk of their own and family lives. Obviously the other respondents have not had Covid losses hit close to home as many of us have. Once PUSD can guarantee safety of staff following CDC and scientific guidance, PUSD should move to open schools as planned back in July 2020 and indicated at the community forums.

In response to Pleasanton Parent - Reopening schools is a joint effort and requires parents to educate their students on the importance of wearing a mask at all times when outside the house. I have seen many many many groups of young students (MS/HS age) together downtown maskless, so it does in fact need to be a collective effort to open schools safely. As long as students (and adults) continue to disregard the simple public safety measures such as wearing a mask, I don't blame staff for not wanting to go back to pre-covid normal school.

Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 25, 2021 at 10:56 am

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

But it’s fine for doctors, lawyers, nurses, fire fighters, police personnel, construction workers, assembly workers, librarians, day care workers, delivery persons, grocery store workers, janitors, flight attendants, pilots, military personnel, athletes, retail store personnel, car wash workers, scientists, engineers, convenience store workers, pot dispensary workers, brewery workers, even be back in their native workplaces? But not Pleasanton teachers? I’ll point out other teachers in ca are back in the classroom, and they haven’t closed.

But here in Pleasanton, here we must ignore the science and data around transmissions in youth vs adults. Here we must ignore our own cities infection rates?. Here we must ignore the effectiveness of protocols all these other areas have successfully enabled in both union and non union environments without fighting - because they knew it was the right thing to do. Because they wanted to get back to the service or normalcy their craft provided.

I’m beyond disappointed in our board and teachers union to get our kids back in school, both deserve equal blame. Neither closed the deal. And it’s clear why. Union leadership would rather blame parents and shame them for asking the schools to do what they’re supposed to do. Board leadership failed to take all available paths to restoring classroom learning.

I ask on behalf of students, then step aside. It’s ok if you can’t navigate this environment, it’s not normal, you shouldn’t loose your job, but put people in charge that will act, not say meaningless platitudes, to get our teachers and students back where they both want and need to be safely. These aren’t mutually exclusive things as a laundry list of others have shown us, even within the same industry and state.

So start taking action or step aside and let those who want to and are able to get our students and teachers back in the classroom. It’s abundantly clear the current union leadership isn’t.......I think we have some great teachers that are being mislead by some severely under qualified leadership that isn’t up to task. They owe it to the teachers they represent and to the students they are robbing opportunities from to step aside and allow someone else to get the job done. Perhaps they’re great at the status quo work, but not the unprecedented....ok fine. Move aside. Get the schools open now, get the students in classrooms now, get the teachers in classrooms now. Allow teachers and students who aren’t ready to remote teach/learn - the percentages are uniquely the same.

Posted by BobB
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 25, 2021 at 1:04 pm

BobB is a registered user.


Engineer here. Working from home.

Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 25, 2021 at 1:52 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Good for you BobB. I’m glad you’re able to work from home exclusively. Are you suggesting all engineers should too? Are you implying if you can, all engineers can? That there are no situations where some engineers need to actually be in an office or lab environment? Because guess what BobB, I’m one too. And my job requires me to be on site almost daily......

Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 25, 2021 at 3:38 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Unions are absolutely blocking children from returning to school:
Web Link

Web Link

Posted by Gina Channell, Pleasanton Weekly Publisher
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 26, 2021 at 7:30 am

Gina Channell, Pleasanton Weekly Publisher is a registered user.

Because this thread has devolved into name calling, I am closing the thread.

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