CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Union County Public Schools are set to reopen on Aug. 17 on a four-day weekly rotation, but some employees are still pushing for remote learning until coronavirus numbers go down.
Librarian Brittany Gendron was emotional at the school board meeting Tuesday night because she felt her voice was not heard.
“I was just struggling for the hundreds of teachers that we’ve spoken with, I was struggling with custodians who are really scared, I was struggling for bus drivers who are already overworked,” Gendron told WBTV on Wednesday.
She and several other employees were disappointed that the board did not consider their suggestions.
They are calling for data-driven decisions. They want the schools to reopen once the COVID-19 positivity rate is at 5 percent, cases are decreasing and schools are fully-staffed and funded.
Teacher Stacy Brown wants the district to consider the health risks.
“Say we’re gonna start remote, we’re gonna figure things out while we start remote and in that time giving us more time to get the numbers down,” Brown said.
They are also worried because the county reported an active cluster.
“The board voted in the spring to defy Governor Cooper’s order and hold in-person graduations, since then we’ve seen clusters at East Union Middle School and Forest Hill football practices,” Gendron said.
School starts in less than two weeks, but these teachers are not done fighting.
“Our hope is that as we come out of the wood works and say we have thoughts and need to be heard, that more teachers find strength behind us,” teacher Sophia Stephenson said.
In an email, school board member Melissa Merrell said:
“The Board is not considering Plan C, however, we will continue to monitor all aspects of reopening schools and make adjustments as needed. We unanimously support our Superintendent and staff that have worked extremely hard to offer Plan B and Plan D to our county... Under Plan C, we would be required to close all 53 schools and operate fully remotely. This is not a viable option for those without internet, our EC students, or our students at Wolfe School that desperately need the doors open to receive face to face instruction and therapy... Many UCPS families are begging for UCPS to do a full reopen using Plan A, many are supporting Plan B and asking for more days per week in the classroom, and some are asking for Plan C.”
Merrell also said they would not be looking into the report sent to the board by Stephenson, as they only use internal reports like the UCPS survey.
According to Merrell, the UCPS survey shows that out of the “more than 2,500 employees who completed the survey, 86 percent of the school-based employees indicated that they will remain in their current position.”