Teachers union receives nearly 300 complaints upon return to in-person learning; MPS aims to reassure public
On Thursday night, April 15, the board outlined the steps they've taken to ensure everyone's health and safety.
Teachers held a late news conference following that meeting. They are expressing disappointment that they, and parents, weren’t invited to participate in the meeting which discussed vital plans for the future.
Hundreds watched virtually, but no one outside of the MPS board and staff was invited in.
Once the meeting ended, teachers had something to say about students' first day back to class this week.
“MTEA has received nearly 300 health and safety reports from MTEA members about a lack of supplies and protocols in their building," said MTEA President Amy Mizialko.
The MPS board said, “We have masks that are disposable, we have masks that are reusable, we have clear masks for students who have hearing impairments and to staff providing services to the students.“
One big issue that no one can argue was the failure of buses on day one.
"Teachers spent a lot of time yesterday with parents who were in tears," Mizialko said. "Trying to calm them down and listen to them and help them get organized for how will my child get to school now on Thursday and Friday and next week, and families are still being told today that there is no bus set up for your child until further notice. That's unacceptable."
The board says it was like any first day back with some hiccups, but they'll be ready for the next round of students headed back Monday. That includes grades 4-8.
“I've taken a look at the numbers from what we have this week, from what we will pick up next week," said MPS Superintendent Keith Posley. "And we have looked at the programming around that particular piece, coupled with the transportation piece. I will be the first to let you know if it’s something I think that we could not do. This is something we can do. “
Another issue is COVID testing in the schools. Ten-percent of the student body, with consent forms, will be tested randomly every other week, regardless of whether they are very young or have special needs.
“We do want to make the testing available to all students that are available to participate," said Adria Maddaleni, MPS chief human resources officer. "If they aren’t, and they can’t at that capacity, we would not require them to perform that test. “
“We take no issue with the 10% testing," MTEA Executive Director Ben Ward said. "The percentage is not an issue. The question is how are those 10% students selected, and they plan to have children as young as three stick Q-tips essentially up their noses, put them around, and expect that be carried off with no staff around actually administering the test. “
For students who cannot self-administer, school officials would contact the family on a case-by-case basis.