Darien Education Association members were out in force last night before a Board of Education meeting to let their community know they have serious concerns about a full reopening of schools in a district whose neighbors are experiencing growing numbers of COVID cases.
Darien schools are following a hybrid model right now but the district is considering a return to full in-person learning next week, which teachers say cannot be done safely.
“This was a rally to show love for teachers, a rally for best practices, for clear and consistent protocols, and to be a part of the process,” local president Joslyn DeLancey said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the Darien teachers. We love our students and want to keep them safe.”
During an hour and a half of public comment at the Board of Education meeting, many teachers expressed concerns about the inability to provide six feet of distance between students, a lack of appropriate disinfecting supplies, and how they haven’t been allowed to give input into district plans.
Fifth grade teacher Katy Gale said it’s been great to see students in-person again, and she has been amazed at how well students have handled wearing masks and following safety protocols. “However, right now we’re following a hybrid model. With all students back we won’t be six feet apart to eat in many schools.”
Eighth-grade teacher Lindsay Cruickshank said, “Parents need to realize that the schools are just not ready for full-time in-person learning.” She has invited administrators to her classroom to help her come up with ways to meet CDC guidelines.
In an op-ed in The Darien Times last week, DeLancey wrote on behalf of her union that if schools return to full in-person learning, “There are at least two schools where students will be in classrooms of up to 25 students. Students at the middle school and high school and in some elementary school classrooms will not be sitting three feet apart. Many will not be able to sit six feet apart and eat unmasked. Fourteen hundred students at the high school will not be able to walk the halls socially distanced.”
CEA President Jeff Leake and CEA Secretary Stephanie Wanzer joined Darien teachers at the rally to express their support for keeping schools safe for students and teachers.
“Darien teachers are excellent role models—they’re showing their students the importance of standing up and speaking up when something isn’t right,” said Leake. “Darien students and staff all deserve safe learning and teaching environments, and CEA is working with Darien teachers to keep schools safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”