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QCSD Staff Express Concerns over Reopening
Written by Jennifer Butler, Correspondent
2020-10-28

            During a virtual meeting held last Thursday, the Quakertown Community School District Board of Directors received public comment through statements submitted by both the Quakertown Community Education Association (QCEA) and the district's nursing department.

            QCEA president Ryan Weiand's statement urged the board to reconsider plans to return all students to full-time instruction.

            "Members of the board, please slow down your plan to continue to pack our buildings with students," Weiand said in the statement, read aloud for the board by a staff member. "Your push to get our students back in our buildings as fast as possible, for whatever your motives are, is significantly diminishing the quality of education in Quakertown by demanding the impossible from the people who deliver it."

            Full-time live instruction began for grades K-5 on October 12 and is scheduled to begin on November 8 for grades 6-12. All students still have the option to attend school virtually.

            A statement from the nursing department expressed similar concerns, noting that as the number of students in the buildings increases, social distancing becomes more difficult. The statement also indicated that, with the onset of cold, flu and allergy seasons, the nursing staff will continue to err on the side of caution by triaging and following up on symptoms while also addressing parent concerns and state compliance.

            The statement concluded with a request for an additional full-time floating nurse as the current workload is unsustainable.

            In response to the nurse's statement, Janet Pelone, director of pupil services, reminded the board that nurses are compensated for extra hours worked and substitute nurses can assist with some of the tasks, concluding that no additional staff is needed at this time.

            "I appreciate the comments about how hard our teachers are working," Board President Kaylyn Mitchell said after the statements. Mitchell went on to note that there has been no instances of community spread within the Quakertown school system.

            Director Chris Spear asked for a committee specific to COVID-19 safety that would report to the board and help shape the Health and Safety Plan going forward. Spear suggested the committee include representation from administration, teachers, nursing staff and board members.

            "That way the teachers' voices can be heard," Spear said. "We have gotten some good ideas before about what they have seen in their classrooms."

            Superintendent William Harner responded that there is ongoing communication with teachers and staff but that there are fundamental disagreements about live instruction.

            "Part of it is the decision of the board about going live five days a week," Harner said.

            "There are decisions the board has made that we are implementing as an administration. There are disagreements but being heard is something that we have done our best to do."

            Mitchel added that the statement submitted by QCEA does not necessarily represent the opinion of all teachers.

"Teachers aren't the only ones, unfortunately, that are experiencing mental health issues. Children are experiencing it. Parents are experiencing it," Mitchell said. "We are all having to step up and do a little bit more."


 

 

 

 

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