What’s really behind New Trier High School’s controversial re-opening plan?
As the parent of a suburban Chicago high schooler whose education is currently 100% remote, I’m grateful our superintendent made the decision to prioritize the health and safety of our entire community over any demands to reopen during a global pandemic.
But recently, a friend requested that I share his urgent story about a nearby suburban Chicago high school just one town north of ours. He asked that I not share his name (or his family’s), and in a moment, you’ll understand why. I’ll refer to him as Bob.
“Please Don’t Share Our Real Names”
Bob tells me that their partner, who teaches at nearby New Trier High School, has been (like all of their colleagues) working remotely since early last spring when the Illinois lockdown began.
However, Bob says, starting Tuesday of next week (10/6/2020), students at New Trier High School (NTHS) will attend in-person class on a rotating schedule with 25% of the students in the building at a time. Bob says, “This amounts to about four days in person for each student per month, while staff are being forced into the building every day.” Bob says, “Staff will be exposed to about 1,000 students and co-workers on varied days, making their exposure a daily onslaught of germs carried and spread by a new population of students each day.”
Bob tells me that NTHS’s “Re-opening Advisory Board” was created in August, and that four teachers and several parents, staff, and students are on the committee. Bob adds that, despite their questions and objections to the opening plan, “none of the committee members have any actual power. The Superintendent decides what the plan will be.”
As for personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, Bob tells me “hand sanitizer and masks are being provided. Plexiglas barriers have been placed throughout the school, and there are signs reminding students to social distance. However,” Bob says, “students are expected to clean their desks and chairs between classes. There is no staff assigned to cleaning classes between periods because there isn’t enough time. There are no clear consequences for what will…