Denver public college academics, dad and mom weigh execs and cons of distance studying amid staffing shortages – CBS Denver
DENVER (CBS4)– There are many differing opinions on whether the Denver Public Schools District should move back to distance learning due to the high number of COVID-19 cases rising across the state, and for many frontline teachers, they feel that they are not listened to by county officials.
“Teachers get burned,” said Tim Hernández, a teacher at North High School. “And teachers need systems that are willing to take that fire from us, throw us in the water, whatever we need to do to provide the best version of education.”
Hernández said that while the school district wants teachers to continue teaching amid mounting concerns about the pandemic, the administration is not listening to their concerns.
“We need a virtual learning break, and we need systems that are inherently based on the safety of our communities,” Hernández said. “We have to make sure there are things we can do to protect our children and teachers.”
There have been nearly two dozen reported teacher absences at Knapp Elementary School in the past two weeks. A teacher at Knapp, who asked not to be identified, told CBS4 most absenteeism is due to COVID. And Knapp isn’t the only school facing these problems. In a statement, a spokesman for the district said: “Many of our schools are struggling with the same bottlenecks as Knapp.”
The Denver Classroom Teachers Association said while they know in-person learning is best for students, teachers are struggling with the current surge in cases in the state.
“We’ve heard reports of teachers going away and then they have to double down, they have to split up the classroom and get other teachers to cover for that time and for the next lesson,” said Rob Gould, the DCTA’s President. “What I hear from educators is that the decisions that are being made downtown are, ‘We definitely need to keep the schools open.’ And what ends up happening is that we piece things together and the students don’t really get the education they deserve.”
Gould said unless the district wants to fully transition to distance learning, schools should be able to independently decide whether to remain open based on their Covid situation. But dr Alex Marrero, the district superintendent, said he was determined to keep schools open for in-person learning despite the rise in cases and staff shortages. And parent Erika Quiñones agrees with the district, saying the final phase of distance learning stalled her son’s growth and planning was difficult for her as a single mom.
“I’m worried that he’ll fall behind,” Quiñones said. “Emotionally, he didn’t take it well and I don’t want him to be discouraged. The last time we did distance learning, he started to lose confidence in his abilities.”
Gould and Hernandez said the county has not currently provided educators with a plan for containing the virus in schools. They said many schools are not being provided with the right resources, such as masks and testing at every school.