August 6 Public Comment

Public comments and questions for August 6 Special Board meeting:

Stephanie Poper, 1:17 a.m.

if the children are brought back to school in November, or earlier, will the children remain in their same class and with the same teacher?

Marisa Russo, 10:04 p.m.

I am very concerned about two board members not being present during the most important parts of the comments that they need to hear. They made their positions relatively clear and somehow both were off screen during the comments supporting full virtual votes.

Sarah Marquis, 9:55 p.m.

I urge our Board Members to consider joining the Board of Wissahickon in making the right vote for OUR schools.  They voted tonight to REJECT the proposal to go 100% virtual. It CAN be done!

April Bechta, 9:32 p.m.

First, Dr Christian I thank you for the thoughtful effort that you have done. This isn’t easy an time to have your role. You have done an excellent job providing information. This isn’t a decision that will be popular any route you go.

This is not the flu and it’s not accurate to compare this to the flu or getting hurt on a skateboard - you can choose to not go on a skateboard but you can’t choose to not get a virus. Research is ongoing and evolving on how this affects children, but also those that carry and spread the virus. Children are affected if you read the current trials. Second to that the spread escalates to staff, parents, retail workers, neighbors, etc.

I work in clinical research and this isn’t a little virus that we should ignore. There is so much effort happening to understand the virus, to find something that will slow the spread and help those that are severely sick.

November is a target for everyone to hope something changes; however we need to understand the likelihood of things turning around significantly isn’t very likely.

This is a big struggle to work 50+ hours with a 10 year old and 3 year old. I took hybrid for selfish reasons but assumed that would not really happen.

I’d love a solution but there isn’t a solution that can be completely solid in a few weeks. This obviously would take time, resources and money.

My only ask is there is leniency for those that have stressful jobs and can’t take the amount of time needed to help our kids through this.

I appreciate everyone’s long hours to plan and re-plan.  I know there are more long days and hours ahead for you. Thank you.

Brooke Hastings, 9:20 p.m.

Wissahickon board approved a 5 day in person plan for elementary.   

Mary Jones, 9:15 p.m.

I was able to view the board meeting on 8/6 and I was one of the 25% that elected for my son to attend school virtually vs the hybrid option (and my son is on an IEP and will be a new student attending CMS in the fall).  While I understand the parents who are voicing their concerns or issues with having to attend school virtually, I completely understand the school board's decision on educating virtually would be the best decision for everyone - staff and students alike - given the uncertainty of the global COVID crisis. I would hope that those that need assistance (those with IEPs) that extra assistance is provided so that they will not fall behind.

Karen Knowles, 9:04 p.m.

The virtual solution is unacceptable.

I am sick to my stomach as a parent right now at what I am hearing. 75% of families voted for a hybrid over all virtual model, yet out voices are being ignore.

Education is essential. Therefore, teachers are essential workers!

These kids need to be back in school.

Teachers need to get back into schools.

The numbers are not justifying this.

Exceptions can be made for teachers at high risk. Families that are high risk can opt for a virtual plan.

I have heard nothing to support this decision.

People can golf, play sports and eat in a restaurant, but our kids can't get an education ????

This makes no sense. I am very disappointed.

Jamie Colcher, 8:44 p.m.

If students are able to go hybrid in November, will they continue with the teacher and classmates they had at the beginning during virtual?

Lisa Levonian, 8:43 p.m.

I have a student enrolled in Whitemarsh Elementary who will be attending 2nd grade this fall.  I chose to have him to be a virtual student this fall before this latest decision.  Originally it was discussed that virtual students would have a district teacher, not necessarily a teacher from Whitemarsh Elementary.  If the district is all going virtual would my student now be assigned to a Whitemarsh 2nd grade teacher?  I believe that this would be extremely helpful to be assigned to a teacher that would have been his teacher had we not been in this pandemic.  If this not the way that teacher assignment is going to be done, I truly wish that you might consider it.  When a new school year starts part of the fun of going back to school is to see which teacher you got or who is in your class from last year, so I would like my son to still have this as part of his 2nd grade year.

I truly appreciate all the work you have done to protect and educate our kids.

Hailey Copestick, 8:35 p.m.

You said that you want to do what is best for the students but what are you going to do for the students that need to be in the classroom to actually understand what they are being taught? 

I am one of those students. Yes I had straight A's at the end of the year but that doesn't mean that I understood what I was being taught or that it stuck with me. I know how to look at a formula and plug the information in and get to the answer. But I didn't understand why it worked that way. I honestly couldn't tell you what I was learning a few months ago before the school year ended because it wasn't sticking with me. What are you going to do to help me?

Christina Scanlan, 8:31 p.m.

Some children who are highly social need school for their mental health and according to the CDC as of July 23, 2020 the CDC recommends going back to school. So, if you do decide to go totally virtual, I insist that teachers teach from the classroom so those children have a classroom setting and it feels normal. I also ask that you please stop basing your decision on WHAT IFS!!! The people have spoken and chose to go to school. You didn't like the decision so you hold us hostage due to a virus with a 99% survival rate. I would like to see your science based facts. Why can't nurses take temperatures before children enter into school? This would keep everyone safe. Teachers could post zoom classes on white boards in classrooms if they prefer to distance themselves. My son needs school for his mental health. I implore you to do something and not cower. You still have people come to school for free lunches yet students who need school for their mental health cannot attend. I would hope that you have teacher teach zoom classes from school and have videos available to watch anytime and not just during school hours.  Law states going to school 180 days per year. So, technically you change/break the law according to your FEAR and FEELINGS not facts. 

Doug Copestick, 8:30 p.m.

I read the family first act and I have a question about how much staff is going to take up to 10 weeks of 2/3 pay? Also how is that you know better then the 3/4 of families that want to come back?

Colleen Estock, 8:14 p.m.

I just want to clarify as a parent who selected virtual. I selected that on the basis of kids going back on August 31st. If the date to reopen was in November, and the situation is good, I may have selected a different choice. I don’t think it is right to consider that survey as valid given a new start date of schools.

Meredith Minnick, 8:13 p.m.

If the teachers will be providing synchronous virtual instruction, how is that different than being in the building in terms of the Covid childcare law? That would seem to be very difficult to provide childcare for their kids at home as well as teach the colonial students. As a working parent, I understand how hard it this spring. 

Darcy Miller, 8:13 p.m.

Studies have shown high recovery rates among teenagers diagnosed with Covid19. Two weeks of a fever or coughing is easily a safer risk than the months of depression, hopelessness, and even suicidal thoughts/attempts that are triggered from the isolation. How can you truly say that going all virtual is safer?

Jen Casey-Stinson, 8:08 p.m.

1- is it really feasible to come back at the end of November when flu season is in full swing when it will be difficult to differentiate between flu and covid causing testing to be done, waiting for results, possible quarantine until results come back, etc. 

2- Can a meeting be conducted splitting elementary, middle and hs so that specific concerns can be addressed? 

3- When will the IEP team be reaching out to parents of children with one? 

4- Will the school be providing packet pick up if papers need to be printed? During March-June we went through so much paper

J. Lafferty, 8 p.m.

A lot of us close hybrid over virtual in part because of the socialization aspect of schooling and in part because of work schedules. As much as I want a hybrid schedule I understand that may not be possible.

My concern/question also is if we started the kids in school, then covid cases rise quickly, wouldn’t it be somewhat mentally straining for them to then again, be ripped out an be put back on a full virtual schedule? I have a child who thrives on routine, March was batons difficult and were still dealing with ramifications of that. So I think it’s something we need to take into consideration 

Terwill Suarez Tomino, 7:51 p.m.

Why is the teacher discussion about lack of childcare for staff? What about teacher safety? Staff safety? Is this woman serious about replacing experienced staff with uncertified poorly trained subs and induction year teachers??

Sara Mangat, 7:48 p.m.

How will going virtual lessen the person-power, workforce shortage from the Families First Act?

If the teachers are working, and teaching our kids, how is the situation marginally different?

Joseph Lee, 7: 39 p.m.

Are we addressing the HVAC/Air circulation in each school?
UV-C lighting has been proven to reduce the transmission of polio in the past (and that was poor quality technology). Clearly destroys Covid quickly.
What methods of germ reduction are in place?

Tom and Steph Taglianetti, 7:36 p.m.

I know I speak for many when I say that an all virtual option is unacceptable and frankly, absurd.

It goes against the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations for children in both the physical and emotional aspects of their health and well-being.

There was little or no learning done in the last 3 months of school this year, and any so-called improvements to the virtual scenario will not be much better. This is a great disservice to our children, and a waste of our taxpayer dollars.

If there are teachers and families who are too afraid to return, then they can all teach and learn virtually, and let the rest of us go in person. We can follow the same rules that we've been following in the green phase. It's worked at businesses and houses of worship for many weeks now.

You can even have all of the in person families sign waivers, if that would make it better for the district.

Let's just use good, old-fashioned, common sense, and let's not let fear rule the day. Our children are suffering, and that's not an exaggeration.

Thank you in advance for your thoughtful consideration.

Sara Mangat, 7:35 p.m.

Will teachers create assignments and use due dates in Canvas to help students organize their work? Canvas is a great learning management tool but only if it
Is used correctly. History classes have been using Canvas for years, but my daughter’s 10th grade teacher pasted lecture notes and wrote deadlines in narrative form - completely missing the advantages of Canvas.

If you are going to use Canvas, I hope that the district will direct and train teachers to design their courses to help students organize their work, not just deliver notes.

Maria Elias, 7:27 p.m.

With the “full remote” proposal, will the virtual classes be aligned with the school the child attends?  In other words, will a PE child be placed in an exclusively PE virtual class with a PE teacher?  (This would be my preference) Thank you for all your hard work.

Jill Sinha, 7:27 p.m.

Please remember that over 90% of parents surveyed were fully in support of a hybrid, in class option.

The health risks this strain of virus causes are quite limited - the great majority of the general population will have very small impact if they test positive with this virus. With the two day in class option, and with social distancing, and with mask wearing, I fully advocate and return to the classroom.

Bud House, 7:20 p.m.

This meeting is a joke! There is no vote, you have already made up your mind!!!

Even though 75% of CSD parents want you to reopen schools at least in a hybrid format you still choose not to honor our wishes! The last time I checked we pay all of your salaries!

Nice of you to keep schools closed until after the election! I am sure there is zero pressure from the teachers union!

Sue King, 7:02 p.m.

My son is in the PW Academy. Are those students able to be in class instead of virtual? Thank you.

Christina Scanlan, 6:55 p.m.

As far as I am aware there is roughly 830,000 people in Montgomery County. The mortality rate is less than 1% for Covid-19 and majority of cases were in nursing homes. We need a herd community. What immunologists have you consulted with in deciding? I hope that your decision tonight would be based on FACTS and not your fear or your feelings.

Erin Saulino, 6:51 p.m.

As a parent, I am incredibly disappointed to hear that we are moving towards an all virtual scenario. For months, the administration has been very forthcoming with its willingness to include parents, teachers, administrators, staff members, members of the community in giving them multiple opportunities to give feedback and listen to what was being discussed. Personally, I felt like the focus groups gave me and these other groups skin in the game. I realize the magnitude of what we were asking the administration and ultimately the school board, to do- they had to adapt so often to constantly changing guidelines without knowing if we were actually going to open school. I get it. But what I don’t get is what changed since the last vote. No new guidance has come out (except the governor’s recommendations on sports). But nothing about 3-6’, or anything else monumental. If anything Montco is doing an amazing job at only about 30 new cases yesterday. The only new things that I (in my small view) can see that changed- the parent and teacher surveys were returned, and the majority of school districts in the area chose to open all virtual for the first part of the year. Was our change due to a complete lopsided-ness of responses? Too much hybrid v. virtual across schools? Too few teachers and staff want virtual vs. in person? I have no idea. But all of these parties have been stakeholders since the beginning, which I applaud the administration for doing. The teacher and staff unions were consulted, everyone was invited to participate in focus groups, the board meetings are open to the public. I understood that hybrid most likely wouldn’t have lasted the whole year, let alone a few months, but it would have been something.

While I able to be home with my kids and help them, a lot of other kids and parents are not. Schools are not just for teaching. They provide stability, food security, safety, a hub of services for families in one place. Children’s mental health is an issue. Has the school been able to contact every family and child enrolled last year? Not everyone is able to easily get online. Will the meal program continue. Food insecurity is very real, especially with an unstable economy. Are children’s IEPs being met? What about those who need services, but were on the cusp of being identified but have now fallen through the cracks? What about those assessments that were deemed “in person only”.  A school is not just about teachers, and contrary to what Facebook says, teachers are absolutely not babysitters. They have a very important job, and they are also front line to help identify children at risk for any of these services that the school helps provide or coordinate. What do we lose by going all virtual?

My fear is that by following the trend of other districts, we will be virtual all year. These kids will lose out on basic skills, such as how to interact with people, and other key social skills. Their mental health will suffer.  I realize guidance is nebulous, but maybe we can take this time to come up with a viable way back to the classroom, with a protocol for when someone is sick, and how to keep schools open longer.

Sarah Scarola, 6:38 p.m.

Over the last few days, we have observed very divided opinions on the risks and benefits of a fully virtual vs hybrid learning program for this fall. However, I think it’s fair to say that we, as parents, are united in the desire to support our children to the best of our abilities.

With that in mind I created a poll on the Parents of Colonial School District Facebook page to help parents focus on the resources that we feel would be most beneficial to providing a supportive and structured learning environment for our children at home.

While some of the parents picked a few resources over others, by and large most parents selected “all of the above“ as their response to the following ideas for resources:

1. Academic support chat platform so that students can get assistance in real time (provided by support staff member while teacher is teaching class)

2. Access to small, socially distanced study groups for the purpose of collaboration and socialization

3. Workbooks, study packets and other printed materials that could be picked up biweekly or monthly for the upcoming lessons

4. Access to the students’ daily schedule as soon as possible for the purpose of planning around parents’ other obligations

5. A “playbook” for parents to understand their role and expectations as well as curriculum guidance

6. A platform for ongoing communication between parents and teachers

7. Academic counselors assigned to each individual students to monitor performance and identify gaps

8. Regular physical and mental health assessments for students

Nearly 200 responses were captured on the poll, so I believe that we parents are really looking for the district to meet us halfway with much needed resources.  Resources that will enable us as take on this unexpected, yet critical role to partner with teachers in a virtual learning environment.

Christine and Stephen Snyder, 6:32 p.m.

Please consider the following when deciding on a school plan.

Please consider keeping the recent plan of having the option for kids to attend school two days a week for these reasons:
1. 91% of parents want kids to either attend school full time or partial time.
2. The survey results and plan was just released July 21-23. Changing course would not seem warranted.
3. Many health professionals, including the national health expert, Dr. Fauci, have been clear that the benefits of having kids attend school out way the risk.
4. Why would the board change course if the survey results are clear and that the majority of parents/tax payers clearly want children to attend school either full time or part time?
5. It is likely that a second wave will hit in November, when the school is proposing
kids return to school. Having kids attend school for a few months is more realistic, before the second wave and before flu and cold season begins.

Many schools have changed course over the last few weeks and will be starting school virtually. Please consider the facts mentioned above and don’t follow other districts who have made decisions that do not seem justified. These decisions seem to have been made without considering what parents want.

Regina X, 5:57 p.m.

I’m a mother of a soon to be 3rd grader at Plymouth Elementary.  Is there any consideration being given for an alternative to Google Classroom? Despite families being familiar with the platform from the Spring, I think you will find many parents, myself included, found it to be cumbersome and not child or adult friendly. 

Please advise. 

Rebecca Storti, 5:30 p.m.

I want to thank the school board and Dr. C especially, for all of your hard work on the 2020 school year.  There is no easy answer and there is no way everyone will be happy  I know you are looking out for safety of our children, teachers and school workers and are making the best decisions you can. My family will pray for you. Thank you for all you do.

One request... will you consider making lunch/recess longer than 45 minutes in the virtual school day? I’d like to be able to give my kids a break on their eyes From the computer to go outside and eat lunch and play with a couple of our “quarantine” circle of neighbors for a little social interaction (also very important). It will be hard to do that in 45 minutes. I’m sure others may feel the same way.

Sonia Pinkney, 5:11 p.m.

Attached is my thanks to the board and my support for a full virtual model for the first semester. This full virtual model limits risk for students and the community, allows us to focus on the many facets of learning and is financially prudent. I am truly concerned at the financial cost in the addition of a hybrid model w/ appropriate safeguards and the cost plus lost learning when infection occurs.

I elaborate on my support for the board and concerns around the arguments presented in the petition in the attached letter.

Anne Marie McLaughlin, 5:08 p.m.

These decisions are affecting the wellbeing of our children and I can’t sit and watch this happen without voicing my concerns to you.

The positive COVID-19 numbers in Montgomery county are improved.

The hospital systems are not stressed.

Kids are the least affected by this virus.

Please do not follow his recommendation, Wolf is leaving it up to the individual districts.

The teams have been practicing and these kids are already spending time together outside of practice. This makes no sense at all.

An unpopular decision with a good rationale is something we can all respect, this does not fall into that category at all.

Please do the right thing by these kids.

Have you thought about asking parents to sign a waiver and leaving the liability up to the parents? Why is that not a viable option for all of the decisions that are being made?

I feel like the parents have no voice at all.