In person or virtual? This is the only topic for Arkansas parents as we inch closer to the first day of school. The CDC has some guidelines to help us figure out what to do. School districts are putting out safety plans. But teachers worry about COVID-19, and those worries aren’t going away.
Most parents don’t really have much choice. Without a huge lift statewide to provide childcare, meals and other basics we look to schools to provide, most parents be sending them off and hoping for the best.
That’s a terrifying proposition for many Arkansas teachers. They’re investing in air purifiers for classrooms. Some are stringing up shower curtain barriers. Minimalism is in for classroom decor, as teachers ditch anything not easily disinfected.
Still, teachers know these measures likely won’t be enough. They’re taking advantage of free will-writing services offered to Arkansas school staff. They still worry about COVID, and many feel like they’re being launched into a battle they can’t win.
For Stacey James McAdoo, Arkansas’s 2019 teacher of the year, we are asking far too much. She penned an open letter to Gov. Asa Hutchinson this week and shared it on her blog, Still Stacey. In it, McAdoo argues that it’s unjust to force teachers to take on such risk when others remain safely ensconced at home or in their offices.
“I also want you to know that I am genuinely heartbroken, disappointed and enraged that city, state and educational leaders…who sit in offices and spaces where they can safely social distance that are located in buildings that are still mostly closed to the general public…who have the privilege of choosing who they share air with by deciding who (and how many people at a time) they want to see or allow into their space…are making decisions that will undoubtedly put the health and life of educators, students and their families at risk by requiring face to face instruction.”Stacey McAdoo, 2019 Arkansas teacher of the year
McAdoo’s letter is making the rounds on social media. Randi House, Arkansas’s 2018 teacher of the year, also weighed in. Their messages are resonating with both teachers and parents. Arkansas educators tend to shy away from public criticism. So McAdoo’s blog offers a rare glimpse at what plenty of teachers are thinking and talking about, but are too nervous to say publicly.