professional progressive unionism

ATF Hybrid Schooling: What Do You Want To Do? – Survey Results

Date
ATF
Union
President

In July, the members of Albuquerque Teachers Federation overwhelming voted to take the position that hybrid learning should not begin until, at the earliest, September 8th. That date is rapidly approaching, and the time has come for decisive action.

It has become increasingly apparent that the intricacies of the Hybrid Learning Model would still pose massive challenges throughout the APS district, whether it is the provision of PPE for all staff and students or the profound need for HVAC updates to our schools for proper ventilation or the juggling act that will be required to serve students in both an online and in-person setting simultaneously. Add to these complications, the ease of transmission of this virus and the fact that doctors have seen a spike in the number of children getting tested for COVID-19. As a result, children account for a greater proportion of positive cases than previously recorded.

According to the NM Department of Health website, as of yesterday (8/18/20), 15.8% of New Mexico’s Covid-19 cases are carried by young people ages birth to 19. As in other states, people of color and those who live in poverty are feeling the brunt of the pandemic. In New Mexico, Native Americans, Hispanics, and African-Americans account for over 78% of current cases.

The data is clear, students and staff will inevitably be infected on a large scale if they return to in-person learning before our district is fully prepared for the complexities of safe hybrid schooling

The data is clear, students and staff will inevitably be infected on a large scale if they return to in-person learning before our district is fully prepared for the complexities of safe hybrid schooling. In addition, the system does not yet have a way to provide accommodations for employees who are in high-risk categories but who do not qualify for ADA accommodations.

The PED clearly stated in the State’s Reentry Guide:

Schools will need to take into consideration that some teachers and staff will fall into high-risk categories because of their age or other health risks. Educators who are considered to be in a high-risk group as defined by CDC guidelines may need to teach from home. All districts and schools should have a process in place to identify these educators. In addition, districts and schools should establish a process that includes formal requests to continue working from home. The process should be aligned with the district’s or school’s Human Resources Department. Because PED recommends prioritizing younger children in-person attendance, high-risk teachers who work from home may need to teach upper grades and a licensing waiver may be required. (See the Educator Licensure section on the following page for details). For teachers who live with someone who is in a high-risk group as defined by CDC guidelines, local board policy should be established and will dictate procedures. More details about high-risk staff considerations and policies are forthcoming from PED.

Because of the number of questions and concerns consistently expressed by APS educators about the logistics and the safety of the hybrid model, our union, once again, polled all of the educators in APS. Almost 4,000 educators within our bargaining unit responded. The survey focused on the Hybrid Learning Model.

Below is a summary of some important general trends from the respondents. View full summary results »

  • Over 40% of licensed educators responding prefer to work from home (with an additional 27.8% selecting “maybe”);
  • Over 1250 educators (that’s over 25% of those that answered) have high-risk conditions, many of which will not be covered by ADA accommodations;
  • Over 1150 educators responding live with someone who has a high-risk condition;
  • 3% of educators indicated they would be willing to return to the classroom if required. However, over 12% of those who responded (447 employees) indicated they would retire, resign or go on unpaid leave. Another 19% said they were uncertain about what their career choice would be.
  • Only 14% of respondents are ready to return to in-person schooling right now;
  • A full 78.1% of educators think the Hybrid Model will not work or that there are serious issues.

Concurrent with the survey that was open to all APS licensed employees, a motion to extend remote learning until, at least, the end of the first semester of SY 2020-21 was introduced at the ATF Federation Representative Council meeting in August. 142 Fed Reps from schools across the district had conversations with their constituents and voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motion.

It’s clear from the results—134 school sites voted in favor (94.4%), 8 voted against (5.6%)—the members of our bargaining unit do not think it is safe to return to in-person, hybrid learning any time soon.

It’s clear from the results—134 school sites voted in favor (94.4%), 8 voted against (5.6%)—the members of our bargaining unit do not think it is safe to return to in-person, hybrid learning any time soon.

Decisions must be made. NM Department of Health recommendations, based on scientific evidence of a decrease in infections, must drive any decision-making about re-opening. Educators and staff need stability. Educators must be able to plan for our students and make plans to care for our own children. We cannot continue to plan for two different worlds: Remote/Red Learning AND Hybrid/Yellow Learning. We need to go all-in one way or the other. Parents and students need to be able to plan for where children will study and where they will spend their time when not in class.

Of course, we would ALL prefer to be in the classroom, with our students, engaging families, meeting with colleagues, bringing dishes for potlucks, leading after-school clubs, heading committees, decorating the halls, and all the wonderful, endless things we do as educators. However, given the current circumstances, a decision to extend remote learning would ease anxieties. One day, hopefully, sooner than later, we will return to the “normal” teaching and learning model. Continuing remote learning now can help control the spread of the virus and lead to fully re-opening our schools as soon as possible.

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