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Harlem Federation of Teachers responds to school board keeping in-person learning

A letter to the school board criticized the decision.
Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 7:35 AM CDT
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LOVES PARK, Ill. (WIFR) - The Harlem Federation of Teachers penned a letter to the Harlem School Board, disagreeing with and criticizing the decision to continue in-person learning.

“I don’t think anyone can do justice to the level of defeat we are feeling in the schools. Every day we watch as our students and colleagues disappear around us, casting a larger and larger net of profound and intense terror,” the letter said.

The critiques hit four key points: staffing, preparation, work load, and general sense of humanity. With staffing at a limited level, the Federation believes that there is less time for teachers to prepare both in-person and e-learning curriculum daily, compounded by the fact that teachers who are able to work have to also substitute for teachers on quarantine. They also list the concern of an inability to self quarantine in the case a teacher would like to see parents, grandparents, or a family member that may be at a higher risk.

In the end of the letter, HFT co-presidents Elana Schelling-Tufte and Brad Sweet urge the board to look at this issue one more time.

“Dr. Morris did not come to this recommendation lightly. She worked in conjunction with surrounding districts and the Winnebago County Health Department to determine this is the best course of action. Our county is at a record high rate of COVID-19 transmission. The school board is the failsafe. No other entity is going to arrive to say we need to de-escalate the situation. We strongly urge you to reconsider this recommendation.”

District 122 School Board President, Sue Berogan, tells 23 News, it’s in the best interest of students for classrooms to stay open at this time.

“There are no changes occurring but parents should still have a back up plan," said Berogan.

In her response letter to the Federation, Berogan writes the board must ensure all students have the opportunity to attain their maximum potential. She shares that parents have asked for schools to stay open because it is not easy for all parents to assist with home schooling."

Harlem School Board President Sue Berogan
Harlem School Board President Sue Berogan(Harlem School Board President Sue Berogan)

“We are however asking the parents that if they do plan on traveling, or if they do have people in from out of town, that they do take the guidelines and quarantine over the holidays. We will do what we can to keep them in person for as long as we can," said Berogan.

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