An update as promised…(it’s a long one, but full of information)
I had a very productive and insightful conversation on Tuesday with Webster Central Schools Superintendent Carmen Gumina regarding the concerns I brought to his and the school board’s attention late last week via email. (Shared letter in previous post.)
The bottom line is without the Governor telling us if we are opening in September we are being held hostage. School districts can’t start planning until they know if and when they are opening and the guidelines they need to work within. There is major concern that districts won’t get a final answer until mid June about reopening. At that point each district will need to submit plans for reopening to the state (by mid-July) at best and wait for the state to approve, deny, or ask that adjustments be made. It sounds as if the districts will be working until the very last minute to implement these plans. This is quite concerning to me – the state will be leaving us with very little time to push back on their guidelines and be heard.
I was told that there have been (as speculated) discussions occurring regarding different possible scenarios, but no official plans can be made as we are all in limbo. Our school district has or will have different committees or advisory groups created to deal with all the different aspects of the school district’s operations pertaining to reopening. I was reassured there would be a parent advisory group. I am hoping to take part in that or serve as a voice for parents in any way I can when that opportunity presents itself.
I also expressed concern regarding the draconian measures that are listed on the CDCs recommendations. I wanted more insight regarding Dr. Mendoza as well as the school district’s stance on this. I discussed the concerns of children being forced to wear masks as well as lack of normal socialization/interactions. I also reiterated all the points in my letters to both the senators and him about children who depend on school to be their safe haven or for those children who need the services provided by the school district and the overall structure to their week. Kids with learning disabilities, who are on the spectrum, or quite frankly have a variety of disabilities need school and their services to help them thrive. Many children are not receiving any of these services at this moment. Mr. Gumina was quite receptive to all of these concerns and did not argue with my perspective. He did not seem in favor of masks for young children or any drastic measures and seemed to understand my concerns pertaining to how this will affect our children socially, emotionally, mentally long after this is behind us if we don’t make the right decisions for them NOW. The overall impression I received was that Dr. Mendoza and the schools locally want schools open come September and aren’t interested in recreating the wheel. We just don’t know what that will look like at this point.
We also touched upon distant learning and how this was meant to be short term. Parents, teachers, etc. have already gone well above and beyond to accommodate the situation. We have seen the good and the bad regarding “virtual learning”. We have seen teachers who have given the situation 110%. We have also seen the teachers who “don’t like technology” or “are overwhelmed” and are protected by the teachers union failing our children. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we are seeing the true colors of some of our educators which has been a blessing and a curse to see where individuals stand. I expressed great concern overall regarding this situation as well as mentioned to him again a situation I brought to his attention regarding my own daughter not getting the services she qualified for due to a teacher not wanting to adapt or work outside her “comfort zone.” Children WILL SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS if we don’t return in the fall. We are not set up to operate like this long term.
I also shared with him concerns that what happens in September could be potentially life changing for many families. If we don’t return to school full-time, how are parents supposed to work to keep a roof over their family’s head? Is it realistic to think parents will have to arrange for all of this childcare if we go to hybrid model? Where will families find this childcare or afford it? If we are waiting until potentially August to learn of the final plans for September, how will parents have enough time to make the appropriate arrangements with their employers? How will families be able to decide if they want to move out of our district or even New York State to pursue education that is better suited for their needs? Will families have enough time to come up with alternative arrangements such as homeschooling?
I also asked him what superintendents were doing to put pressure on our governor. The morale of the story – concerns from the school districts, parents, and numerous unions pertaining to education at the moment is falling on deaf ears in Albany! One man and his “committee” are calling the shots. This is maddening! Our children have become a pawn in our Governor's games.
We also discussed the upcoming budget vote. Many school districts and superintendents are indeed worried their budgets ultimately will be voted down. In Webster for example, a NO vote could lead to millions of dollars of deficit in the fall if we were to return to school as normal. Right now there is nothing in place to allow another budget vote down the road. Mr. Gumina and myself discussed how taxpayers not knowing if we are reopening in September or to what extent is leaving voters weary of voting YES. It is important to acknowledge that many voters may have been out of work all this time, may need to quit their jobs to balance their children’s schooling, etc. and can’t afford an increase in taxes as well. Arguments can certainly be made on both sides to validate their reason for voting yes or no. School districts are indeed aware we are dealing with unprecedented times and we may just see that come to light on June 9th with many budgets voted down across the county.
I’m every emotion right now because the only people hurting are OUR CHILDREN.
Our school districts need answers from Governor Cuomo.
Governor Cuomo – STOP HURTING OUR CHILDREN. OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT A PAWN IN YOUR POLITICAL GAMES. Children are the future of this state and society as we know it. WE ARE FAILING THEM!
Take what we do know now about this virus and make a decision TODAY. Let our schools handle decision making at the local level – what is best for our community and our children!
Let us start planning for the 2020-2021 school year!
So what can we do as parents, grandparents, teachers, taxpayers – anyone invested in our children’s future??
KEEP SPREADING THE WORD!!!
Keep telling your friends, family, neighbors – OUR CHILDREN DESERVE BETTER!!!! Let our voices be heard. Tell our school districts, local officials, and those in Albany – STOP PLAYING GAMES WITH OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE!.