Friday, October 23, 2020

VA: Teacher Ejected From Board Meeting For Live Covid Demo

Henrico County Public School District is a Virginia school district that sits right beside Richmond. For the first part of the school year, they have been using distance learning, and finding it just as unsatisfactory as pretty much everyone else.

So the board has proposed a phased in return to a four-day week (with Wednesday off for cleaning). Students will have the option of remaining full virtual if they prefer. Like many districts Henrico has done some surveying of its stakeholders, and as in many districts, it hasn't clarified much. 50% of families want to stay on line. About 70% of the staff is willing to return to the classroom. 

The proposed phase in will start after Thanksgiving for elementary students, and secondary will be back in February. The "after Thanksgiving" part, given family holiday travel and gatherings, has some folks a bit nervous

One HCPS teacher decided to give the board a taste of that concern with the board by way of dramatic demonstration. Teacher Brent Halstead approached the board, stood about six feet away, took off his mask and opened up a bag of chips and some drink. This, he explained to the board, is what they are asking teachers to do with twenty kids in a classroom. 

The board, all masked, were not fans. They were reportedly "visibly uncomfortable," and then asked him to put on his mask before having security escort him out. You can watch the video here of Halstead being removed accompanied by applause from the crowd.

There is some evidence that Henrico's plan is not out of line with what we know, provided they're really prepared to support the undertaking and not just throw open the doors, and if it has support in the larger community (because if the community is loaded with maskless folks, the school is more vulnerable) and if your local luck holds out, maybe. And if you don't worry too much about teachers.  But what we know is not much, or even probably enough, and the whole incident is a reminder that in the absence of clear information and actual leadership from federal and state authorities, people are scared. But in Henrico, as in many districts across the country, school boards demanding that teachers face situations that they won't tolerate themselves--well, it's not a good look. 

1 comment:

  1. I've been fantasizing, lately, about going into a school board meeting and lighting up a cigar -- because "we shouldn't live in fear."