The letter, written Aug. 6 and updated Aug. 11, requests policy changes and greater flexibility with regard to teaching remotely.
“SMCISD teachers love our profession and feel grief when we cannot connect with and teach our students in the ways that we always have in the past,” the letter states. “However, we want to return in a way that is safe for us, our families, and all community stakeholders.”
Among several requests to the district, the group is seeking work from home considerations for teachers with underlying health conditions, who reside at least 50% of the time with someone who has an underlying health condition, who are pregnant or caring for infants.
The teacher group amended the original letter Aug. 11, applauding district officials for allowing teachers to choose the workplace that is safest for their families during the initial development period, but they said they are still hoping administrators will continue those considerations as the year advances.
“I hope we can reach a compromise,” said Keren Jackson, an eleventh-grade English teacher at San Marcos High School. “I think the district wants to do what is best for students, wants to have a strong education program and [wants to] care for the community. I just want them to take into account there are individual teacher situations that need flexibility and that the fewer people there are on campus, the safer the campus will be for those who have to be on campus.”
Jackson said she hopes the district will address the teachers’ concerns at its next board meeting Aug. 17.
SMCISD Superintendent Michael A. Cardona sent out an FAQ document this week to update staff on the reopening of the district. The FAQ document answers questions covering a laundry list of pandemic-related concerns, including campus ventilation, student safety, sanitizing practices, hallway movement policy, PPE requirements and staff screening protocols.
Cardona also said the district plans to send out an updated reopening plan by the end of this week.
Perhaps most germane to SMCISD teachers’ concerns, the FAQ document states that teachers wanting to opt out of situations that make them feel uncomfortable should seek guidance and information from their campus or department leader, who will “route accordingly.”
“If the teacher or staff member does not qualify for ADA accommodation, that’s where we are asking those teachers or staff members to reach out to their campus principal to create a flexible schedule,” said Andrew Fernandez, executive director of communications and community relations at SMCISD. On Sept. 8 we’re asking all of our teachers to work from inside their classroom. The reason for that is we have purchased technology for each of our classrooms to provide the best learning experience for our students.”
With regard to support for the teachers, local residents are organizing a community caravan in support of SMCISD teachers, employees and students Friday, Aug. 14 from 9-11 a.m. starting at 501 S. LBJ Drive and ending at Rattler Stadium for a socially distanced parking lot rally, according to information put out by the Facebook group San Marcos Alliance for Schools.
To read the entire FAQ from SMCISD, including the district’s entire reopening plan, click here.