Loudoun County teachers voiced their continued support for distance learning at a Monday town hall as Virginia’s third-largest school district plots a path forward for its students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Public school teachers joined Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, in a town hall meeting as the county asks parents to make a choice between a hybrid learning plan, where students will go to school in person two days a week and distance learning the other three, or 100% distance learning.
Dana Foddrell is a kindergarten teacher at Leesburg Elementary School. As a minority teacher, with a number of minority students, and the knowledge that COVID-19 disproportionately impacts minorities, she worries about her students’ safety.
“We as teachers are here to protect, care for and serve our students in the best way we know how,” she said. ”If one of my students contracts COVID-19 and sends it home to their parents, or their grandparents and someone has a fatality, that’s going to be on me … everybody is impacted.”
While instructors agreed distance learning poses its own set of challenges — like ensuring internet connectivity and accommodating special needs students — many argued health and safety are paramount.
“I want to go back in person so much, but in order to do that we’re going to need support, and we’re going to need to get this pandemic under control first,” said high school teacher Caroline Marks.
While teachers have been trained on sanitizing classrooms, middle school teacher Katie Rosenbrook voiced concern that any infections that do occur could spell legal trouble.
“If we have to go to a class to be trained how to use these specific cleaners, and somebody still gets sick, are we going to be held liable because you waited nine minutes instead of 10 to bring the class back in,” she asked.
Parents have until 8 a.m. on July 15 to indicate their choices for each of their children through the county’s ParentVUE portal. Students for whom a response is not submitted will be automatically enrolled in the hybrid plan.
The choice will hold for the entire first semester, as long as the county remains in Phase III of reopening.
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