Teacher Mel Bowers described a feeling of drowning in their letter to the board of trustees Tuesday night, as they went on to ask the board for help in educating during a pandemic.
The November Monroe County Community School Corporation Board of Trustees meeting began with Superintendent Judy DeMuth recognizing the additional sacrifices MCCSC teaching staff have made this past month.
“This has been a truly difficult time,” DeMuth said. “I just can’t say enough what we’re doing in this corporation and how we are all extending ourselves to make sure that we have a very safe environment for our staff and for our students.”
Bowers, who teaches at Clear Creek Elementary School, emailed a letter to the board explaining that while they were grateful to their school for offering support, they still felt pressure from working under expectations they believe are unrealistic.
“Though the building support is unmatched, teachers are near quitting,” the teacher said in the email. “This is how I know that the district-wide policies must change.”
In addition, Bowers said teaching conditions across schools are unequal, since some teachers work in schools with a higher percentage of students that have stayed online.
“Even in a school where we are doing everything right, where our building administrators are supporting us like no other and with a close-knit teaching community like no other, we are not okay,” they said in the email.
Brandon Shurr, the MCCSC board member representing District 7, stressed that he and other members of the board heard Bowers and their colleagues’ worries.
“There’s probably lots of teachers that aren’t able to write something or don’t feel comfortable to,” Brandon Shurr said. “Teachers are the backbone of education. Do we carry on until things snap or do we take care of our most trusted resources and listen to their cry for help?”
In addition, several community members pushed for the board to move back to virtual learning. One comment included a petition sponsored by The Parents, Teachers and Students for Community Safety, a community coalition..
Assistant Superintendent Andrea Mobley updated the board on current COVID-19 statistics at MCCSC. The meeting came a few hours after MCCSC announced they would move back to “phase yellow” Nov. 30.
Mobley said that, in addition to frequent updates to the MCCSC COVID-19 dashboard, teachers and families are informed of new COVID-19 cases in their prospective schools are discovered. She also said the metrics committee was happy to have limited exposure to the virus at schools, even with rising cases.
“Many, if not most, of our cases have no to minimal close contact in school and that’s because our teachers and administrators are doing such a good job of maintaining that 6 feet of distance,” Mobley said.
A virtual welcome center has been created to answer new family’s questions about MCCSC as they become acquainted with the school district. The information will be provided in Arabic, Chinese, English, Korean and Spanish. In addition, the ENrich after-school English tutoring program has been changed to a virtual format with the help of more than 70 IU student tutors.