Poughkeepsie teachers union concerned with lack of reopening plan

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PMS. File photo

POUGHKEEPSIE – Earlier this week Poughkeepsie School Superintendent Dr. Eric Rosser notified parents that the district would begin hybrid learning on November 30.  That decision was reversed by Rosser on Thursday evening.

When Rosser announced the hybrid instruction date, he stressed that it was contingent upon COVID-19 infection rates as well as advice from the State Education Department along with state and county health department recommendations. Those agencies have not issued warnings against returning to in-person learning. In Thursday’s email, the superintendent said he was expecting the COVID rates to spike after Thanksgiving which caused him to rescind the November 30 date.

“Until otherwise communicated, all students will continue to receive instruction remotely. PCSD will assess the landscape after the holiday to determine a new transition date and communicate this no later than December 11, 2020,” said Rosser.

Earlier this week the district faculty were ordered to return to their respective schools today (Friday) morning to prepare for the November 30 reopening.  The faculty expressed concerns about returning to the buildings without having been provided a copy of the district’s reopening plan, including safety protocols.  A group of approximately 50 educators arrived at the middle and high schools and walk through the doors in solidarity.

One teacher indicated that the thermometers used by staff when entering Poughkeepsie Middle School were malfunctioning earlier this week and were not working properly again on Friday.  The readings are consistently low, according to the educator.  The one teacher’s temperature was measured as being 95.3 degrees when arriving at the building on Friday.

Heather Marino, president of the Poughkeepsie Public School Teachers’ Association also indicated that the thermometers were malfunctioning.  “My temperature was 95.8 today.  Earlier this week it said I was at 93 degrees.”  The president is also disturbed by what she said was the district’s lack of cooperation.  “Our teachers were summoned to their buildings today to prepare for the November 30 start of hybrid learning.  We only learned that the date had been pushed back when parents told us.  We keep trying to work with the administration as a team, but we are being shut out.”  On entering the building without a published safety plan in place, Martino said “Our dedicated educators are being put at risk by entering the building and we are not receiving any guidance from the district.  It’s November 20th and the district still does not have a plan!”

The district’s plan for reopening the schools is expected no later than today.  The link to the plan on the district’s website takes viewers to a page that is not available.