Schools Reopening.

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Lauren Coupland

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Jul 30, 2020, 6:53:45 PM7/30/20
to public....@laschools.net, e.ben...@laschools.net, c.ber...@laschools.net, j.b...@laschools.net, s.boe...@laschools.net, Dawn Jalbert, Kurt Steinhaus
Dr Steinhouse and the School Board,  
I am writing to urge you to join Santa Fe and Pojoaque schools and commit to remote learning for at least the first quarter, if not first semester, of school.  This will make it easier for teachers and families to plan.   I do appreciate the 4 week lead time before deciding to move forward with in person instruction.  As you consider what criteria we must meet before we can reopen, I would like to ask you to consider the following things.  
  • Children age 10 and above spread coronavirus as much as adults. (source)
    • Age 10 is reached in 4th grade.  There is no safe way to open schools for students older than 3rd Grade.  
    • Many Pre-K through 3rd grade students have siblings older than 3rd grade.   
  • Israel's cases increased dramatically after reopening schools, and they are still trying to get it back under control.  "Nationwide, the numbers of coronavirus cases went up from 50 new cases a day to approximately 1,500 per day within a month of schools reopening. Government data revealed that schools were the second-highest places of infection for the month of June." (source)
  • Florida and Tennessee have seen a huge increase in the number of cases in children. (source) (source)
  • A North Carolina Private school opened, and had to shut down for a case of Covid-19 in under a week. (source)
Additionally, since the beginning of July, cases in Los Alamos county, Rio Arriba County, and Santa Fe County have all more than doubled.    We can not reopen while cases are increasing at this rate. We have a large percentage of students and staff members that come from the Espanola area and Santa Fe.  In the fifteen days since the last school board meeting, there have been 447 new cases between the counties of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, and Santa Fe.  

No teacher should be penalized for not wanting to return in person, whether or not it is for health reasons.  If they choose, they should be able to teach online or take a year leave of absence with their current position guaranteed for the 2021-2022 school year. This should include specials teachers such as Art, PE, Music, and Library.  We should also make sure that students in the online academy receive instruction in the arts as well.  

Please look at other districts around the country that reopen in a hybrid model and how Covid-19 is spreading there.  I also urge you to insist that any household member of a student or staff member travels out of the state - even LANL essential travel, not attend school for at least 14 days.  

Please commit to keeping Los Alamos Students and Staff safe.  Commit to distance learning for at least a quarter. Commit to very stringent requirements for being able to reopen, and include LANL cases in that requirement. Commit to supporting staff who feel unsafe returning in person. 
 
Thank you, 
Lauren Coupland
Parent of an incoming Kindergartener and 3rd grader
Former Teacher - The Bridge High School, Brighton Michigan
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