Thursday, December 10, 2020

DeKalb / Dunwoody School Parents are upset that a Face 2 Face educational model is not contemplated by the DeKalb County School System.

I like many parents have a child in the DeKalb County School System and we have been hoping that the safety protocols for COVID transmission and/or the infection rate would soon allow for an optional face to face educational model for those students and families who want to return to the class room.  As that has not yet happened, my wife and I continue to oversee our DHS freshman to remain engaged in his own learning processes. We utilize outside tutors where needed and do appreciate the teachers staying after my son for missing assignments or other deficiencies. In reality, our circumstances with just one high school student is rather easy but parents with multiple students in various elementary grades have it much tougher and throw in an educational disability with no special services being offered by the County and some would claim it is criminal for the harm being done by this institution that is funded at one of the highest tax rate in the State.

Unfortunately last week the infection rate in DeKalb County was at 341 per 100K people which is still above the metrics of  > 100 cases per 100,000 for 14-day period that DeKalb utilizes.  The transmission data from the Georgia Department of Public Health was shared at the most recent DeKalb County School Board meeting and because of the metric, no hard date or plan for return has been contemplated.  With the Atlanta Public School System, implementing a change to allow Face 2 Face learning for the must vulnerable (Youngest Students and Special Needs Students) in January - DeKalb seems to be an island of limited learning opportunities give parents no options for improvement.

The issue is that many parents are seeing that their children are struggling, not learning at the pace as expected and believe that DeKalb County School System is failing both the children and the communities they serve; doing long term damage to both. These DeKalb parents want an option for face to face learning and are upset that DeKalb seems to be the only school system holding out and sticking to these ultra conservative metrics when Fulton County Schools just blocks away from the Dunwoody border are open.  Fulton County currently has a higher infection rate of 345 per 100K vs the 341 of DeKalb; yet they have been open for Face to Face instruction for months - why not DeKalb?

 CDC recommendations are mixed as our rate is high, but DeKalb could also be fortifying the classroom operations to limit the spread so they could open and parents are not sure of what those actions are.  Here is more CDC information as to COVID School Operations.

Every family, every child and everyone in the classroom including the teachers have different medical needs that need to be accounted for in the proposal for face to face learning.  It will not be for everyone but a group of DeKalb Parents are so fed up with only the virtual on line learning that they have organized a Facebook Group entitled "DCSD Parents who want F2F option" and in doing so they are starting to write DeKalb School Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris, the District Superintendents, the School Board, State Representatives and any elected office that may have jurisdiction.  The Dunwoody City Council received a number of emails and will be meeting on Monday to discuss circumstances and possible actions the City can take even in our limited role of having no oversight.

I have received in excess of ten emails from Dunwoody residents asking us to intervene on behalf of our residents, asking that we sign a petition and lobby the DeKalb County School Board to offer Face 2 Face instruction, for them to assess the long term damage that this conservative policy is doing to our children, families, teacher morale and a thousand other perspectives. 

One virtual solution does not fit all student needs and I do agree with the concerned parents writing me that the DeKalb School System is flat out failing those children who have special needs, failing those who have little or no support at home and after having many months to make changes, are failing to provide adequate educational services to all the students they serve.  Other area County School Systems are open with protections and DeKalb hasn't evaluated their peers decision against both positive and negative aspects or if they have done so, they haven't shared that analysis.

I have taken the liberty to pull snip-its of a few emails I have received being sent to the DeKalb County School System. 

The CDC and top medical professionals recommend F2F. We have learned since March and spread is not coming from our schools. Here are some comments within the past 2-3 weeks by the CDC Director, US Surgeon General and Dr. Fauci: kids are safe or safer in school, teachers are not higher risk than the community, spread among and from children is not very big at all, CDC does not recommend school closures (nor did they in the Spring) and K-12 schools can operate safely w/ F2F learning.

If you have not seen the Fox 5 clip covering Sunday's rally at Piedmont Park, I have included a link at the bottom of the email. I was at the rally and it brought tears to my eyes meeting Philip Woody and his son. They are Dunwoody residents. Please refer to the mark from 1:10-1:20 where he talks about his son. If this does not upset people in our community, then I don't know what will.

I acknowledge the differing opinions everyone has on the pandemic. However, at a minimum, we must provide our elementary kids, special needs students and those with learning disabilities with a F2F 'option'. We must do better and I will continue to fight and advocate for our students, and I am calling on you as well.

Almost every week I send an email to the Dekalb County School Board begging from the bottom of my heart to give parents the options to send our kids to school in-person, especially the Elementary School kids. In week one it was more factual and asking politely and by week 15 the tone in my emails have gotten more frustrated. The board is literally ruining our community in Dunwoody. Teachers (it is coming in March when they sign contracts) and strong families are leaving our community to move to other districts or go to private schools. I don’t trust the School Board to make any decisions that are in the best interest of my children and at this point I have to believe they all lack common sense and strong leadership capabilities. The CDC and pediatricians all over the globe continue to say kids need to be in school and that the spread of Covid 19 is not happening or worsening due to schools being open especially for Elementary schools.

There is no review of actual science. There is no review of peer district data. There is no compassion for children with special needs. There is no compassion for working parents. There is no innovation. There is no flexibility. Things that don't bend will break. Our entire school system is on the verge of breaking. We need your help!

I need you to know that I type this email with tears running down my face, exhausted and angry and hopeless. Our children are suffering. Our GOOD teachers are suffering. Parents are suffering. You have failed us by not giving us the option to send our children to school in person. You are willing to justify the mental health toll this is taking on our kids (and parents, obviously). You are willing to overlook the plummet of women specifically, having to leave the workforce. You consider 5% of children not logged into school a success. A decrease in child abuse is not due to less child abuse, it's due to less protection. You are willing to ignore THOUSANDS of students leaving and not coming back. The good teachers smell blood in the water and are looking for other jobs. YOU are gutting our schools. All you had to do was give us the choice. No one ever said, force people back into school. I would also like to point out that DCSD has not offered any monies to pay for the IEP services that children are not able to receive, which is against the law. We shut schools down in MARCH. Why, when schools were empty for 265 days, were safety protocols not being examined, procured and put in place?

1 comment:

Josh Sofsky said...

Thanks for engaging on this issue. We are also very frustrated that Dekalb Schools have not opened. We are homeschooling our oldest outside of the school system, but would like for him to return to Vanderlyn.