Update: Due to road conditions, in-person classes will not begin today in Anchorage.
Some of the youngest students returning to classes today in Anchorage will enter a dystopian classroom world, where they must kneel for hours on end on the floor while masked, and have no recess or art or physical expression.
Pre-K–2, K–6, self-contained special needs programs, and the Whaley School (clarification, not pictured in this article) are returning to in-person learning at Anchorage School District classes on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Parents who viewed the classroom above that their students will be returning to expressed shock: All desks have been removed. Students will kneel on gardening pads and use chairs as their desks for 5.5 hours.
[Parents, send photos of your children’s classroom conditions to this address: suzanne @ mustreadalaska.com]
Rather than lockers, they will have to bring a five-gallon utility bucket to store their lunch, jackets, and supplies in. The parents were told all students will be masked over their nose and mouth.
“We wouldn’t allow terrorists to be treated like this,” said one concerned parent, who asked to be kept anonymous.
The new classroom design represents one solution to keeping children apart so they do not spread the COVID-19 virus.
Some of these young students have never been to school before, so they may not see the situation as abnormal. Anchorage schools have been closed due to the coronavirus since last March.
In at least one Ohio school, the desks are in place, but plastic barriers have been placed around each one, to contain moisture coming from students as they breathe through their masks, as shown from this parent’s photograph:
Grades 3–6 will continue with current Zoom and online classes for now in Anchorage. The District has a goal of bringing them back “as soon as possible after our first tier of students.”
Select middle and high school students who need extra support will also begin in-person, small-group classes for 5.5 hours each day on Jan. 19. All middle and high school students will return to in-person learning at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the District says.
“It may be hard to remember what ‘school in school’ was like. That’s okay! We will transition to a new routine together. We are paving the way for a new approach to learning in-person. The District is prepared with Individual School Safety and Mitigation Plans that are in line with CDC guidelines and customized by school principals and staff to ensure the mitigation works for each unique schools’ building and culture,” the district said.
Meanwhile, Anchorage Education Association, the union for teachers and staff, has sent highly detailed instructions to all of its members telling them exactly how to document their discontent with returning to in-person learning, so that they may file a successful grievance against the school district.
AEA has already filed its first grievance, demanding that teachers may refuse to carry out orders that they feel threaten health. The letter to teachers points out the dangerous situation that will occur when students remove their masks to eat and drink in the classrooms:
“With many students returning to buildings next Tuesday, many of you will have difficult decisions to make regarding your health and safety. The District’s position is that they have plans in place that mitigate and minimize exposure to COVID-19. AEA is focusing on student and staff safety as we return to face-to-face learning.
“AEA has filed a grievance asserting violations of Article 421B: “A member may refuse to carry out an order that threatens health (excluding normal childhood diseases including but not limited to colds, flu, mumps, measles, chicken pox) or physical safety; or which is a violation of federal or state statutes. If the member refuses, the member shall have the burden of proof.” Page 48 in the AEA Contract.
“This grievance includes any members who refuse to carry out an order that they believe threatens their health or physical safety. The specific safety violations are in these areas:
- “Classrooms are being set up that do not have six feet of distance between students.
- “Student are being allowed to remove masks and eat in the classroom.
- “SEL mask breaks in buildings do not comply with CDC guidelines.
- “Classrooms may not meet CDC, OSHA, or other regulatory requirements for proper air circulation and filtration to minimize COVID-19 exposure.”
The entire union letter to teachers and staff is at this link: