While teachers in the Plymouth-Canton Schools are eager to return to their classrooms for in-person learning, they are concerned about their safety and the safety of students in light of the current coronavirus pandemic.
Plymouth-Canton Education Association President Heather Fitchpatrick sent a statement to members of the board of education earlier this month, noting that the 1,100 members of the teachers' union feared that the district might be rushing to a full return “without specific details that keep our teachers and students safe.”
Fitchpatrick's statement was read to the board members and audience during the virtual meeting by board member Lauren Christenson. Currently, the district plans to return to full-time, in-person learning by March 1.
Fitchpatrick questioned the details of the current plan and inquired about provisions for accommodating student lunch breaks and physical distancing during the day. She inquired about plexiglass barriers in classrooms and suggested plans needed to be in place for special education students and for quarantined students.
“Details matter. We need clear and consistent communication with all of our staff. Teachers by nature are planners. We pour our hearts and souls into our lessons and activities. We need time to do this effectively. By rushing to a full return, vital details may be overlooked. Mistakes could cause people to get sick or worse,” her prepared statement read.
The current plan for in-person learning will include grades 6 through 9 and students in specialized courses at the high school returning to in-person in a hybrid configuration beginning Jan. 25; all elementary students, and students in grades 6 through 9 and those in specialized-courses will return to a full five-day, in-person configuration Feb. 17-19.
Students in grades 7 and 8 are scheduled to return to a five-day in-person configuration on Feb. 22 and students in grades 10-12 will return to in-person learning (either in a hybrid model or full five-day configuration) March 1.
According to Superintendent of Schools Monica Merritt, air purifiers have been installed in district buildings along with improved ventilation systems. She added that cleaning methods in district buildings have also been intensified in an effort to combat the spread of the virus in school buildings.