Springfield teachers urge district to open with all remote learning for the fall

The Springfield Education Association (SEA) is urging the district to open with remote learning only for the start of the school year in the fall.

“As the SCSD approaches the first day of school amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear there is no way to safely reopen school buildings in our community at this time,” the SEA stated in a release. “The SEA is calling on district leaders to ensure the safety of students, staff and the Springfield community by opening the 2020-21 school year on a 100% virtual model.”

The Springfield City School District has offered families two options for the fall when the district reopens – 100% in-person or 100% online learning. School is scheduled to start on Aug. 26 on a staggered schedule.

Springfield City School District Superintendent Bob Hill said district plans to continue the fall reopening as planned and that it is based on feedback from staff and parents.

SEA and district leaders have been meeting over the summer to discuss potential reopening plans, but due to the lack of support from state and federal government, districts don’t have enough resources to put necessary measures in place to protect those in the buildings, the release stated.

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“SEA does not come to this conclusion lightly,” said SEA President Michael Libecap. “No one wants to be back in the classroom with their kids more than teachers, and we know online learning is by no means a perfect substitution for in-person learning. We understand that the virtual option could also bring hardship to some of our families. However, during an unprecedented global pandemic, health and safety must be the top priority, and SCSD simply does not have the resources and time to adequately teach and protect students and staff from the virus.”

While the district has drafted plans to address health and safety concerns, the release stated that a recent survey showed that 80% of responding members felt they have not been given enough time to review and effectively implement the new protocols.

“We recognize the spread of COVID-19 in Clark County has not reached its most critical point, however we believe reopening school buildings has the potential to quicken the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Libecap wrote in a letter to Hill. “Rather than open and be forced to close while subjecting our community to greater spread of a deadly virus, we believe the only prudent option at this time is to open fully online.”

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Although the SEA stated they don’t doubt that the district wants the best for students and employees, they still feel a virtual opening will provide “the opportunity for high quality instruction.”

“Children can and will spread the virus to each other, to their teachers, and to their families. State data shows children under 18 account for nearly 13% of total COVID-19 cases in Ohio currently, with those cases representing a larger proportion of the total number every month,” Libecap said. “Without a vaccine, the only way to prevent further suffering is to contain the spread of the virus, and without adequate resources and time, the only way to contain the spread in the Springfield schools community is to keep students learning from home until it is safe to return to the classroom.”

Hill said he always appreciates input from the SEA and is listening to staff and parents..

“The district asked parents for input. The district asked teachers and staff for input, and found, at the end of the day, the majority of SCSD families and students wanted to come back to receive an education in-person,” Hill said. “The SCSD team is confident that with all of the safety provisions in place, and with teachers that put our students’ needs first, the 2020-21 school year will prove to be one of the best yet.”

Hill added that the district provides a valuable support system to students and their families.

“Since March, the well-being of our students, their families, and their neighbors have been at the forefront of our minds. Our schools need our students and our students need our schools. To say we are proud of our students and are equally excited to see them back next week, is an understatement,” he said.

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