FRAMINGHAM – Framingham remains in the “red zone” and our total COVID case data put us significantly above the CDC’s highest risk level for transmission within schools.
The reason the district went fully remote again in December was because evidence emerged that there was transmission within the schools. Indeed, there have already been over 43 cases in the schools this year and that was with just a fraction of staff and students in the buildings.
Higher positivity rates in the community can in turn make in-person learning much less safe. I am also curious whether the district’s dashboard includes positive cases that emerge during quarantine. If not, that may be a glaring oversight in the data.
Unfortunately, for many districts, too much decision making seems to have been reactive instead of proactive; political rather than pragmatic. As a result, at times communication has been unclear, policy has been inconsistent, and it has led to lots of pivoting and adjusting.
I acknowledge the Herculean effort that our district has made amid these challenging circumstances. PCR testing and new contact tracing measures are available now, but respectfully, these additional mitigation efforts still do not make it safe enough for hundreds of students to return to each building. For one, mask wearing has not been consistent and that could defeat these other safety measures.
The question is: what exactly is the rush to return to in-person learning?
Are elected officials rushing to return to in-person meetings?
Rushing students back now could lead to a greater spike in cases and more inequities, as many students and families have already elected to remain remote for the balance of the school year.
Losing a year of in-person learning has been tragic, but we can always work out ways to recover some of that lost time. For now, the health and safety of staff and students must remain paramount.
The false narrative on social media that educators do not want to go back needs to stop.
They want to return to the buildings, but only when the risk is much lower.
Dozens of educators have had to take leaves due to underlying health risks to themselves or family members.
If the community thinks of educators as essential workers, then they should be treated as such. That means making sure they have access to the vaccine as soon as possible.
I applaud the district for pushing the Governor to prioritize educators, but it could go a step further by telling him they will not push for a return to in-person learning until all staff have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated.
To be fair, a lot of hard work has been done, but the truth is that more time is needed to complete the work required for a safe return. We have come this far, so we can hang on a little longer.
If we truly care about getting our kids back into school, then all of us need to do more to bring our community’s positivity rate down, we need to establish consistent metrics and safety protocols, and we need to take care of those whom we expect to teach our students.
Framingham Resident & Framingham Public School Employee