As COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the state, teachers are calling on State Superintendent Karen B. Salmon to make all schools virtual until at least the end of the semester. This would allow parents and educators to plan better, as opposed to the uncertainty of bringing kids in and out of school buildings which is causing burnout among educators, the state’s largest teachers union said.
“Virtual learning, and real or potential switches back and forth from virtual to hybrid modes of learning, is spiking workloads to precipitous levels for too many educators,” Cheryl Bost, the president of Maryland State Education Association, wrote in a letter to Salmon Tuesday.
“We urge you to work with educators and local school system leaders to prevent these elevated workload levels from turning into a prolonged burnout crisis that sets us even further back in our already struggling efforts to recruit and retain outstanding educators in our profession.”
Creating lessons for a virtual platform, while also being able to adapt to sudden and sometimes multiple shifts back to in-person learning, has been exhausting for teachers, Bost wrote. In fact, some have argued that teaching on a virtual platform and teaching in the classroom are like two different jobs.
Bost referred to the state’s COVID-19 Guidance for Maryland Schools, which recommends that there should be limited or no in-person programs if the positivity rate exceeds 5% and if the new case rate goes over 15 per 100,000 people.
As of Nov. 24, the statewide positivity rate reached 6.6% and there are 38.14 new cases per 100,000 people.
While Bost acknowledged that local school districts’ recent decisions to rollback in-person learning were responsible, “setting return dates for partial in-person learning in two-week increments is not the appropriate response at this time. It is overly stressful on everyone and doesn’t allow for any type of continuity of learning or the ability for educators and families to plan ahead. We should give Marylanders a better ability to plan,” she wrote.