Teachers protest in-person learning at WCSD Board meeting

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 1:31 AM PDT
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SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) - Days before the first day of school for Washoe County students, dozens of teachers and educators protested outside of Spanish Springs High School where the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees met in-person for the first time in months. Teachers expressed their concerns over allowing students back into schools during this pandemic.

Earlier Tuesday, August 11, 2020, the school district released a new Reopening Plan to help families prepare for the upcoming school year.

Public comment was tense during the meeting, which started at 4 p.m. Most of the speakers were teachers and educators who said they’re frustrated and do not support students returning to classrooms on Monday, August 17, 2020.

The school district’s new reopening plan lays out everything parents and students need to know before the first day of school. However, teachers claim they’re not getting the guidance and answers they need to keep students safe for in-person learning.

“Too many of the answers that we’re getting from the district are we don’t know yet, we don’t know yet, and that’s not acceptable,” Robert Munson, a Washoe County Teacher said.

Many are concerned about a number of things, like if it’s safe to pass out and collect papers, the three feet of social distancing for elementary kids and protocols for special education students.

Munson added, “Keeping kids in a classroom with masks on for 6 hours and trying to educate them without them interacting and doing collaboration is not going to be effective teaching.”

“My school does not know what the schedule is going to be, does not know if they’re going to have to rearrange teachers,” another concerned teacher said, “All you have to do is ask the area superintendent who has my school what our plan is, and the plan currently is I don’t know.”

Educators said full distance learning is the way to go and that the district’s plan is far from perfect.

Teacher and Washoe Education Association President Natha Anderson said, “I’m just asking us to have honest communication with each other where we can ask questions to find solutions so we can go back to school safely.”

Dr. Kristen McNeill, Superintendent for the WCSD said she supports peaceful protesting and that the Board of Trustees is doing its best to protect its students and staff.

“These are very interesting times and there’s a lot of anxiety and a lot of concern, but every time we’re hearing a concern we’re addressing it,” Dr. McNeill said.

People were spaced out at the board meeting and the podium was cleaned after each speaker. The meeting adjourned at 1:16 a.m. on Wednesday, August 12.

To read the entire Reopening Plan, click here.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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