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Jefferson Should Move to Virtual Learning

On Friday, the Jefferson Federation of Teachers sent the following letter to Dr. Gray to highlight the concerns of JFT members and request that the district immediately move to virtual learning. You can read this letter in it's entirety below:

December 18, 2020

Dr. Gray, I am writing to you in response to a survey conducted by the Jefferson Federation of Teachers concerning issues involving COVID 19. The survey raised many concerns regarding personal safety of the students, employees, and overall safety on several of our campuses, virtual teaching and learning, substituting for colleagues, various personnel being pulled to cover different positions at the school sites, while also being held accountable for their own duties, and most importantly the fatigue of those continuing to educate and ensure the safety of our students.

The survey results that are deeply concerning are:
  1. 79% of employees surveyed, in general do not feel safe at their school site.
  2. 82% are in favor of transitioning to 100% virtual learning.
  3. 47% of surveyed employees are substituting daily/weekly in their school building.
  4. 31% of employees surveyed are not substituting [this is because paraprofessionals, ESL, MT are being pulled to cover classes]
In addition to the survey, we have included several comments:
  • Paraprofessionals are being pulled from their students to cover classes.
  • Physical Education classes are cancelled because the PE teachers are covering classes.
  • Itinerant teachers are also being pulled to cover classes.
  • Employees are being pulled from Central Office to attend to classrooms.
  • Sped and ESL employees, as well as office staff and custodians are covering “split” classes.
  • Students are sent to the gym or library because there are not enough teachers.
  • IEPs are not being adhered to; due to paraprofessionals or teachers covering other classes or fulfilling other duties.
  • Employees are exhausted trying to balance all of their duties while also having to pitch in to cover for absent colleagues.
  • Due to the above-mentioned issues, there is not enough time to complete IEPs that are due February 2021, yet; teachers are expected to have them completed by December 21, 2020.
  • Kenner Discovery, an Ochsner charter school, made the decision to move to virtual learning. We have a partnership with Ochsner, why are we not considering virtual instruction, as well?
Our employees are doing the best they can under these difficult circumstances. However, the constant subbing due to the rise of quarantine cases, or sending students to other classes, the gym, libraries, etc. does not allow for maintaining static groups, and does not provide the best educational outcomes for our students.
We feel that an immediate move to virtual learning is the best option, at this time, to ensure the safety of our students and staff, until there has been a significant decrease in the number of new COVID cases.
Kesler Camese-Jones
President, Jefferson Federation of Teachers