School District Staffers “Livid” Over Oswald’s Refusal To Offer COVID-19 Infection Transparency
Teachers, Bus Drivers Refusing to Return May Force School District To Reconsider Plan
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — A senior Palm Beach County School District official tells BocaNewsNow.com that there is significant concern that teachers and bus drivers will be unwilling to return to in-person work, rendering any return to “brick and mortar” education useless.
“If we don’t have bus drivers to transport the children, and if we don’t have teachers to teach the children, how do we open?”
The concern has been expressed privately and publicly for months, but as Palm Beach County approaches permission from Gov. Ron DeSantis to move to “Phase Two” of Florida’s reopening plan, the concerns are growing louder.
Deputy Superintendent Keith Oswald seemingly hurt the “back to classroom” cause during Wednesday’s school board meeting when he refused to guarantee that school officials would announce COVID-19 infections in schools.
Deputy Superintendent Keith Oswald seemingly hurt the “back to classroom” cause during Wednesday’s school board meeting when he refused to guarantee that school officials would announce COVID-19 infections in schools. He erroneously cited privacy concerns, although schools routinely announce “lice” and “hand, foot and mouth” spreads without identifying specific children.
“There are two major issues,” said the official, speaking to BocaNewsNow.com on the condition of anonymity. “Many of the School District’s 180,000 students rely on the school bus to get to school, but we have no safety protocols for transport or cleaning. A packed bus is a packed bus. Bus drivers are saying they’re not subjecting themselves to crowds of kids who will inevitably refuse to wear masks. There is also not enough time between routes to sanitize a bus.”
The second issue:
“Teachers are watching the lawsuit (against the Florida Dept. of Education) and threats of teacher strikes in places like New York. Despite what is said in public meetings, there is just no way that social distancing, lunch in classrooms or mandatory mask use is going to happen. These classrooms aren’t big enough to space desks six feet apart. Teachers are concerned, and many say they’re not coming in. They’re fine to teach virtually, but that’s it for now.”
Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner expressed frustration with the Palm Beach County School Board during a Friday afternoon news conference on the District’s plan to reopen for “brick and mortar learning” just a week after Palm Beach County moves to phase 2. He has repeatedly said it may be too much for the “system” to handle — businesses reopening and 180,000 students all returning to some sort of “new normal” at the same time. County officials are set to meet with school district officials on Monday.
Teachers contacting BocaNewsNow.com over the past several weeks suggest that the school district’s concern about staffing is legitimate.
Among their comments:
“We have sick days, we have vacation days, we have extended leave days,” wrote one. “Parents need to understand that their kids are going to be taught by substitutes for weeks or months if in-person is mandated.”
“There’s no point in starting now only to have to close again in a few months. We teach our kids to analyze the whole problem and find a solution. The School Board needs to do that, too.”
“A real teacher virtually,” said another, “is better than a long-term sub in person. We love these kids. We want to teach these kids. We want to teach these kids in person. But forcing us to pretend that plans are in place isn’t going to work. There’s no point in starting now only to have to close again in a few months. We teach our kids to analyze the whole problem and find a solution. The School Board needs to do that, too.”
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