Vaccinate First

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Christine Engelbrecht

Feb 9, 2021, 8:29:30 PM2/9/21
to Christine Bernstien, School Board Public Comments

Dear Los Alamos Public School Board Members and the Los Alamos Community,

I urge you to bring LAHS into the Remote + Model this semester, but only after all staff members who want a vaccine have been fully vaccinated. As long as I have been fully vaccinated, the pandemic does not worsen, and LAPS can keep our campus safe with consistent cleaning and social distancing, I am willing to go back into the building to work with small groups of my students in person.

I want to address all of the parents who are insisting that teachers need to “get back to work, students need to “be back in school,” and the staff needs to “face our fears” because their students at home “are not learning.” In the remote learning model, I am still able to assess and stimulate skill growth the way that I did in the physical classroom--planning goals, creating instruction, assessing skills, and reteaching through feedback to address gaps in skills. While some students may not feel comfortable with this learning model because they are less familiar with it, I can attest that the students who are still engaging with me by participating in setting their own goals, leaning into instruction, practicing the skill, receiving feedback, and then practicing the skill some more ARE GROWING. Students and teachers have been in school since August 2020 and working harder than ever to make the most of our time together and be resilient during this unprecedented time. 

I want to dispel the myth that the in-person portion of the Remote + model will stimulate growth where the remote model is not. The in-person portion of the Remote + that you think will make learning easier is a 60 minute session with your student once every other week where I cannot go over new material or introduce graded material. I will still be looking at your AP English student’s writing through a computer screen since I cannot stand closer to your student than 6 feet away. I will likely not be facilitating small group discussion because a group of Honors English students spread out in my room to be six feet apart isn’t much of a small group and shouting their ideas at each other is not something that I encourage in discussion. I will not approach my Academic Skills Lab students to reorganize their backpacks because I cannot touch their school supplies, and I will not be able to tuck extra supplies into their binders “just in case” because my school supplies may be contaminated. I will likely be providing extra help to students who want it through a computer screen in the same room as the student. I can tell you that providing help to students physically standing 6 feet away from me through a computer screen does not constitute “learning” more than anything that we are doing in the remote version. They will be getting the same kinds of help that they get from me online with the added risk of exposing themselves to other adolescents and adults who may be infected with the Covid-19 virus. 

I want to caution the parents and community members who actively try to shame the staff to go back to spending extended time indoors with your students unvaccinated. The decisions that we make for our health and our families are not yours to dictate. You have the right to make the decision as to what is best for your families. And we will reserve the right to do what is best for our families including abstaining from in-person contact with students until we have received both doses of the vaccine.


Ms. E

Christine Engelbrecht, M.Ed., NBCT
New Mexico Certified Teacher | English, Grades 7-12 and Reading, K-12

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