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Friday, May 20, 2022

Students pressure St Paul’s district to go online for two weeks, increase coronavirus protections

Students from several schools in the St. Paul district staged a walkout on Tuesday afternoon in support of a two-week shift to online learning and a more robust plan to protect them from the coronavirus.

The walkout was being organized by the non-profit MN Teen Activists. Highland Park senior Jerome Treadwell, the group’s director, said a survey found that students work due to inconsistent bus transport to and from school, absenteeism in classes without adult supervision, and concerns about infecting family members. Was doing.

He said that the district should do more to educate students about the importance of vaccination and the importance of wearing face masks in school.

“We don’t want to die trying to get our education,” Treadwell told reporters Tuesday morning.

Five lakh schools to move temporarily to online instruction

At least five large Minnesota school districts have temporarily moved all grades to online instruction due to a severe shortage of staff, but most, including St.

Treadwell said St Paul should take two weeks to accelerate coronavirus testing for staff and students, get more protective face masks, decide on metrics for temporarily closing individual schools and The quality of distance education should be improved.

“Learning online isn’t ideal for anyone,” he said. “We need engaging and innovative learning.”

Nadia Ramirez, senior at the Washington Technology Magnet School, addresses fellow students after exiting classes in St. Paul, Tuesday, January 18, 2022. Students at St Paul’s Public Schools walk out of classes to demand student and staff safety during COVID. -19 pandemic. (John Otte / Pioneer Press)

The group’s demands largely match those of the St. Paul’s Federation of Educators, with one key difference: Treadwell said it is important that all staff report to buildings if the district moves to online learning, as the school does not support those students. Those who prefer it don’t have the option or to go elsewhere.

The school district last week submitted a plan to the teachers union that would require all healthy staff to report to schools during the two-week shift for online learning. When the union refused to support the plan, because of that requirement, district leaders announced that they were sticking with individual instruction.

District Answers

In response to the planned student walkout, the school district said Tuesday morning that it was already working to get more testing and better masks for staff and students, among other health efforts.

The district also reiterated that school buildings will remain open and fully staffed, even if instruction is online.

“As a district, it is our responsibility to ensure that students who cannot stay at home have access to food and support for online learning, as well as to provide the individual services needed for students seeking special education. It’s a safe place.” said district. “Therefore, if a school moves to virtual learning, it will include a requirement that all staff members at the affected site who are not sick or in quarantine report to work.”

absenteeism shift

Separately, the district told families on Tuesday that it had decided on the circumstances that would lead to an individual school offering online learning: “If on any given day, 25% or more of the classroom teachers in a school are absent, then Families will receive a notice from school. If this absenteeism rate is expected to continue for more than three days, families will be notified of a temporary change to virtual learning.”

Harding Jr. and walkout organizer Angela Nguyen said the current situation was not good for any student. With so many teachers unable to work, classes are being given by sub-classes who cannot teach the material, she said.

“I personally am very unable to learn,” she said.

Meanwhile, students stuck at home are not getting teacher support, Nguyen said.

Although teachers must make classroom materials available to students online, the school district has a memorandum of understanding with the union that states that any teacher should “teach, answer, or attend to a group of students in an individual setting and distance learning setting.” Won’t participate. At the same time.”

But St. Paul can’t close its schools entirely because of a state law that forces schools to give students online instruction without any personal options.

“Students and families cannot be forced to participate in online learning. For this reason, an in-person option should be available,” said Ashley Norris, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Education. “In addition, schools are expected to provide food and transportation and other important services (such as special education) for all students.”

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