3 Minutes May 4, 2021

Good evening, Chair Scott, Vice Chair Henn, Dr. Williams, and members of the Board:

At the last Board meeting at your request, System leadership shared a plan for the reopening of schools for in-person instruction on a four-day schedule. All preK–5 students would be eligible, as well as data-targeted secondary groups of students. The primary difference is the CDC metric which allows 3-foot social distancing at the elementary level and remains at 6 feet for secondary students.

School leadership teams led by their principals have been hard at work since the morning following that meeting, using pertinent data and physical attributes of their schools to determine needs, identify students, reach out to them, and work with transportation to prepare for their return on May 10th and 17th.

I had not planned on speaking tonight, but I have heard rumblings that some on the Board may want to change the plan at this, the 11th hour, and bring back any secondary student who wants to return across the System. I am sure that there are Board members whose constituents advocate for this, but let us review some facts.

  • The 6-foot social distancing requirement at the secondary level prevents every student from returning at this point, which is the foundation of any plan.
  • School leadership teams have used the data and the Board’s own Equity focus to identify specific, targeted groups of students that would benefit the most from face-to-face instruction and spent every bit of the last two weeks planning for their return.
  • Each school is different, and decisions must be made based on data and physical limitations. Our schools are not cookie cutter. So, numbers will vary from school to school.
  • Site-based leadership under the direction of System leaders have used data and an equity lens to drive the number of students identified to return. That is what the leadership in the buildings have been hired, trained, and paid to do.

Both System and school-based leadership have worked diligently to respond to requests for full return to face-to-face instruction. But in the simplest terms there are CDC limitations which preclude a total return of every student at the secondary level.

An arbitrary change to our reopening plan at this point would show a complete lack of respect and appreciation for the hard work these leadership teams have done over these last two weeks. Is that the message you want to send?

A motion from this Board to return any student who wants, no matter the metrics, is an example of the concern I shared with this Board at the last meeting where I reviewed the difference between the Board’s role of governance versus the hired professionals’ job of operations. So, I will be plain. Stay in your lane. Isn’t that what is asked of every employee?

And as an aside, I find it distressingly ironic that members of this Board would dictate full in-person return of all students, no matter the metrics, when there has not been a full in-person return of this Board.

Thank you.

Tom DeHart

Executive Director, CASE