Last weekend, a message was written and distributed by teachers via homeroom Sunday newsletters that brought to your attention the many concerns and inconsistencies of the DCPS Term 2 Reopen Plan. This weekend, we are writing as a unified Local School Advisory Team (LSAT) to further amplify and explain the many perspectives surrounding this plan. At its heart, the LSAT is committed to creating the best possible learning environment for all Murch students, and this volunteer-based committee consists of parents, community members, teachers and school administrators working to elevate all stakeholder voices. The LSAT is sifting through the same public knowledge that is available to all -- no more, no less -- and share frustration with you that details from DCPS seem piecemeal and disjointed at best. Transparency and honesty are our priorities, solidly grounded in possible solutions to achieve what we all desire -- a safe return to DCPS in-person instruction.
Online learning certainly has its challenges. Students both at Murch and across the city are having different experiences, thus resulting in different needs. Tech issues abound daily, special education services have been cut 50%-80% in the virtual environment, working parents are struggling to juggle it all and teachers are outside of their comfort zones. The LSAT members are experiencing all of these challenges alongside everyone else and although sometimes our opinions and perspectives vary, we are listening to each other and will continue to communicate with Murch families regularly. The LSAT also strongly encourages parents with questions and concerns to attend Principal Cebrynzski’s weekly Wednesday meetings and to contact him directly about specifics regarding your individual student(s). The LSAT will also continue to meet regularly as policy continues to unfold.
The parents on the LSAT have deep concerns about the current efficacy of online learning. Its negative impact is alarming on many students even outside of the four identified groups in the Term 2 Plan, and the disproportionate impact on at-risk and special education students even more so. LSAT parents feel DCPS must immediately provide a safe place for at-risk and homeless students to access learning. The return to in-person learning for these students raised high hopes, but DCPS did not adequately and sufficiently plan for this implementation. Advocacy should be focused on DCPS applying its resources to implement CARE classrooms providing a safe environment for students in need to access learning. In addition, these classrooms should be proportionally structured across the city based on need. The attached letter produced by the Council of School Officers outlines not only some of the concerns Murch LSAT parents and teachers share, but crucially delineates a path forward that would most directly address the need to provide safety and access to learning for the city's most at-risk students.
Teachers at Murch stand together in strong opposition to the Term 2 Plan. They believe the given plan is ineffective in providing teachers and students with a safe and meaningful way to work together in the building. Once teachers can work collaboratively with DCPS and stakeholders, a better plan can be made to get our students back in school. Teachers and staff know how critical it is to have some of our students back with the in-person support of a teacher. Teachers have worked tirelessly to build classroom communities and relationships, as well as maintaining the quality of instruction whether virtual or in-person. However, despite DCPS efforts to say it worked collaboratively, this plan was created without respectful partnership or input from educators. With a more thought out and comprehensive plan, results can be achieved, but only by working together.
The LSAT asks that each Murch household read the Council of School Officers letter and consider the options presented. These are the areas that deserve immediate and vocal advocacy, and the concrete solutions offered are sound and based on collaborative thought.
All the best --
Murch Local School Advisory Team
Dave Kiyvyra, Parent Co-Chair
Katelyn Brady, Teacher Co-Chair
Steven James, Parent
Mary Garcia-Cazarin, Parent
Sue Guzman, Parent
Dan Tatalovich, HSA Board Representative
Sandra Borak, Washington Teachers Union Building Representative
Kelly Crabtree, Washington Teachers Union Building Representative