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Local

Batavia teachers 'anxious' about returning to classrooms as district releases more details about plan

District offers information about protocol in student, staff test positive for COVID-19

Fifth grade teacher Jake Wyeth leads his class into the building for the first day of school at Alice Gustafson School in Batavia on Aug. 14, 2019.
Fifth grade teacher Jake Wyeth leads his class into the building for the first day of school at Alice Gustafson School in Batavia on Aug. 14, 2019.

BATAVIA – Some Batavia students are set to return to their classroom in a hybrid model on Aug. 19, and while teachers are excited about teaching, many are anxious about returning to in-person instruction, according to an email from a Batavia Education Association President Todd Swanson.

Swanson stated in the email that among the teachers' concerns is contracting COVID-19.

"First, there is concern about what possible exposure might mean for themselves, their families, their students and their colleagues," he stated. "Second, there is anxiety of the unknown with teaching this year. District plans are fluid, and along with ever-changing guidance from the state, we have been told that we could switch gears to any other version of a plan at a moment's notice. All aspects of teaching are going to look different this year."

Batavia Public School District 101 announced a "soft" return to instruction for the first few weeks for families who chose to return to the classroom, as students will alternate in-person attendance days. Families also had the option to select fully remote learning.

According to the district's Restore BPS 101 plan, instruction could alternate between everyday in-person attendance, hybrid attendance or fully remote, depending on local conditions. Swanson stated in the email that there will be opportunities for some staff to teach fully remotely, while others will teach both in-person and remotely.

He believes this will allow teachers to decide which model is best for them.

"In reality, we are just like the kids. We can’t wait to see our colleagues in our buildings. For most of us, we haven’t seen each other since our sense of normal ended on March 13 with schools shutting down and moving to all remote," he stated.

The biggest concern for teachers is to make sure all staff and students remain safe, while respecting the social-emotional needs of everyone.

"The first days back are going to be spent talking, listening, and hopefully healing from an abrupt end to what our normal had always looked like," he stated. "We will then do what teachers do best, see what our kids need academically and emotionally and begin to create plans to bridge any gaps that may exist."

In a email, Superintendent Lisa Hichens issued the following statement about the district's plan:

"The reopening plan for BPS101 is a flexible plan. For those families who want their children to be educated in person, we can only offer that choice if we can do it safely. At this time, BPS101 has a plan that meets IDPH reopening standards and is flexible enough to respond to changing conditions."

The school district on July 29 released more details about the protocol if a student or staff member either tests positive for COVID-19 or has an exposure to the virus. The Restore BPS 101 document states that the first thing students should do is call the school nurse, while staff should call their supervisor and the nurse, and follow the directives given while staying home.

The names of those who test positive will not be made public, and will not be revealed during the contact tracing process, the document stated.

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