Caroline County educators call for change amid schools reopening

DENTON, Md. – For schools in Maryland, back to school plans are set in stone – at least for the first few weeks.  But one group is now voicing their concerns after they say they were left out of the decision making process. “Local associations across our state have been busy working with boards of education for reopening, and it’s just disappointing to see Caroline County take an effort to lay off our support professionals,” said President of the Maryland State Education Association Cheryl Bost.

Caroline County teachers gathered in Denton outside the Board of Education building Tuesday night. They say they’re asking the school district for more flexibility and transparency when it comes to the reopening plans for this coming school year. “We have two concerns beyond that which encompass that idea. One is that we’d like to get 83 different ESP that have been laid off back to work. We also would like to have a little more flexibility in terms of teleworking,” said President of the Caroline County Educators Association Amy Anderson.

Teachers say that the district laid off more than 80 support staff. Bost says support staff are needed especially while navigating virtual learning. “Their budgets are already funded for the year. Our support professionals are an integral part of teaching our students, especially in a virtual environment where we have to do break out sessions and try to outreach students,” said Bost.

The teachers also say that the district hasn’t been allowing enough teachers to telework if they ask to – and that educators were not given much of a voice when it came to finalizing reopening plans. “We’re right on the front lines. We’re there. We’re the ones day to day that are making things happen for the students. We need to be there. Our voices are integral in this equation,” said Anderson.

Educators say that moving forward, teachers’ voices must be included in any changes that are made to back to school plans. “There’s going to be lots of tweaks that are going to be needed. Around the state we’re trying to figure this out. Everybody’s going to be like a new educator on the first day. So that’s why we want them to include the voices of educators,” said Bost.

The school district tells 47ABC that they’ve been working with teachers to allow more flexibility when it comes to teleworking. The district also says they’ve already re called some of the support staff that was laid off. In a statement, the school district said, “The Board and Superintendent understand these are difficult and challenging times for everyone involved, and will continue to work with employees, families, and the community to make decisions that are in the best interest of students.”

Bost says that after this demonstration, they hope to inspire other teachers across Maryland to make their voices heard. “When you say you’re going to take care of the Caroline family, that includes keeping people employed. That includes keeping their benefits in place and so they are not taking care of the Caroline County family,” said Bost.

Anderson says that when teachers are more involved – it makes a big difference in their students’ ability to learn. We’d love to work with them, sit down and kind of beef it out. Make sure that we have the right decisions for the students,” said Anderson.

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