Public Comments Meagan Townley, TVEA Member and TVUSD Parent
Let me start by saying this has been an incredible year. Typically when I use that word I like to use it in describing something amazing, however I will stick with the true definition of “incredible” which is “impossible to believe”. As we reflect on these past months of online teaching/learning and hybrid teaching/learning, it really is impossible to believe that we did it and we’re still doing it! Teachers have worked tirelessly to switch gears to a whole new way of teaching, students have shifted to online learning, and parents have sacrificed time and even jobs to support their students. And now we have 7 weeks left; a light at the end of the tunnel.
I speak from both sides of the coin in that I am a parent of 3 students in TVUSD schools, a freshman, a sixth grader, and a 2nd grader. I am also a teacher in the district, supporting our families that chose to remain online all year. We have bobbed-and-weaved and monitored-and-adjusted all year long, both at home and in school. We are so grateful students that wanted to go back were afforded that option in March for elementary and April for secondary. The opportunity to bring secondary back on campus for 4 days versus 2; and bring back elementary for more than 2.5 hours is a move in the right direction. Kids need to be in school, learning from and with their teachers and peers.
However, I implore you to lay out all the facts to all parties involved and be transparent! I would like to focus on the elementary level for now. When the shift to cohort model was rolled out, some parents did not understand that their child, who had attended online school for a full year at 9 AM, would now be starting at 1:00 PM. Some teachers were strongly-encouraged to teach in a FLEX model to preserve their roster and minimize the changing of teachers. Little did they know when the time to reopen came, they would then have to shift again to Hy-flex. Hy-flex is the new term teachers use this year to describe teaching in person while live streaming their online learners. Why didn’t they know? Because there isn’t transparency, there hasn’t been long term planning that involves all parties. We were never told that FLEX teachers would ever have to live stream. How does one keep the attention of our online elementary students while simultaneously teaching to our students physically in front of us? Students should not be sent to school to watch their teacher work. They should be involved with their teacher at every moment and allow in-person teachers to teach in-person and online teachers to teach online. Get rid of the Flex model and allow teachers and families to make an informed decision based on full facts and known information.
While moving forward to open “full-time” please consider that the possible change in the daily schedule has a domino effect of schedule changes within each classroom. This affects our professionals that provide related services in compliance with IEPS, our RSP teachers that push-in and pull-out to also provide services for our students on IEPS, our literacy specialist that provide needed and necessary support to our lower readers, and teachers who also juggle schedules with students needing extra support in mandated, designated ELD instruction and students who need additional support in areas of academics needing one-on-one or small group instruction. Please consider the amount of time and effort it has taken for us to create and implement these schedules and the necessary time and effort it will take to coordinate new schedules once again and get the ball rolling. Please allow time for these changes to happen.
Being a teacher online has been hard, but being a parent this year has been harder. I have watched one of my children spend hours upon hours in front of a screen trying to keep up with school work. He went from thriving at school to getting-by in school. I have watched another one of my children break down out of frustration and curl up in a ball in tears. I’ve witnessed my 7 year old write on her assignments that she hates school and she hates herself. We need to get these kids back in school to the fullest extent allowable based on current, updated direction from the CDPH and CDC.
Thank you for your time and consideration. Let’s work together to find a solution.