The following is public comment the People's Alliance Education Action Team submitted to the Durham Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education regarding the district's decision last Thursday to reopen public schools for in-person instruction.
The People’s Alliance Education Action Team urges the Durham School Board to adapt a few key elements of its recent decision to reopen public schools for face-to-face instruction in March.
To better protect the health and safety of Durham Public Schools students, families, and staff, we urge the Board to:
Delay the reopening of schools for face-to-face instruction until every staff member who wants to be has been fully vaccinated. This delay is contingent upon Governor Cooper’s veto of SB37 and the upholding of that veto by the North Carolina General Assembly.
Release clear, detailed descriptions of what a day of in-person instruction will look like for an elementary, middle, and high school student so that parents can make fully informed decisions about whether or not to send their children back into buildings.
Ask the BOCC to allocate funds to open additional slots at learning centers for students -- preferably enough spaces to accommodate all families who wish to use them -- and eliminate any associated fees.
Implement and enforce a uniform, district-wide policy limiting mandatory, synchronous instruction for elementary school students to no more than 3.5 hours a day. Include asynchronous access to instructional material for any families who cannot manage their children’s live online instruction schedule.
Provide a dedicated hotline or designated contact person for reporting failure to adhere to required safety measures, accessible to staff and families. Include as well a clear outline of the chain of consequences and plan for amelioration for failure to adhere to required safety measures -- consequences for students, staff, and school sites.
With these measures in place, a DPS return to in-person instruction is more likely to be safe, and students whose families opt not to have them return are more likely to experience success as well.
The People’s Alliance Education Action Team