Vernon school board is needlessly putting teachers at risk

| 18 Jan 2021 | 05:28

    To the Editor:

    Vernon Township had largely been spared large COVID outbreaks — that is, up until recently. Sharp increases in cases have occurred in the community, and in some schools as well.

    We know this is happening across most of New Jersey. As a result of the continued resurgence of the virus, many New Jersey schools are continuing to conduct “hybrid” school openings or have opted to remain in a remote learning mode through the next 1-2 months. Given that it is only a matter of weeks before many New Jersey teachers will be able to receive the Covid vaccine, these approaches appear to be both rational and in keeping with the desire to keep teachers, students, and their families safe.

    Yet, the Board of Education of Vernon Township has recently decided to send the high school teachers back to a fully in-person/5 days a week model beginning this Tuesday, Jan. 19. And since these will be full days, the teachers will also be expected to supervise large group lunch periods — during which time, naturally, students will not be wearing masks.

    Current observations from the CDC suggest that while elementary school students appear not to carry or transmit the virus in any major way, the same is not true for adolescents in middle or high school. So, why is the board of education so determined to take this drastic action? Do they have data to suggest that high-school students are incapable of learning remotely? Do they have data to suggest that the former hybrid approach was not working? Why would they deliberately put teachers at risk when the vaccine is only a few weeks away?

    The board of education owes an answer to the hard-working teachers who have persevered through all the changes required through this pandemic. And yes, parents certainly have had to persevere with interruptions to their work/home routines as well. But to subject the students and teachers to health risks at this late date with no reason other than political pressure is simply not responsible.

    The board of education should reconsider before more people become ill.

    Deborah Neuscheler