This semester has not been normal. It has been the exact opposite of what we as educators are used to. Back in March, when lockdowns and stay in place orders were first put in place, I never thought that in December we would still be at home teaching. Safety and health being a priority remains the same in our district, but the world of masks and temperature checks is new to me.
Despite the distance, we are still working together. Educators and families, parents and teachers, communities and school districts, one department with another are all working to create a healthy school and community to ensure safety measures when we do return to in-person learning. We are all one big, crazy, combined, and overlapping support system.
There have been many concerns that have come up over the past few months in regards to working during a global pandemic. Let me assure you that CEA is working in collaboration with district personnel to find solutions that will reflect our efforts as educators and our values as a district
Early in the school year, CEA worked with District Office on what evaluations would look like during the pandemic. Since the state is not going to allow districts to suspend Evaluations for a 2nd time, district office personnel and Cartwright teachers met to define how to give individuals grace during distance learning and establish which principles are relevant and accessible during this time. What a collaborative effort! I personally want to thank all that were part of the Evaluation Committee for the changes that were made.
Longevity pay is a recent concern. Through conversations with many in our district leadership is clear that the district values every single employee's work, education and years of service. There has not been a concrete solution to this as of yet, however CEA leadership is in talks with district personnel, the state retirement system and legal counsel on how to continue providing the longevity bonus. The topic is part of Meet & Confer. At this moment, I know efforts are being made with ASRS and legal council to ensure that payments made for longevity will not resort to a hefty fine for the district.
Cartwright’s COVID 19 Task Force has had many accomplishments since its May 2020 establishment. The task force is made up of site admin, district personnel, ESP and certified members and was formed to address concerns, issues, and find support for students, staff and families during this uncertain time. The task force has provided supports and solutions in varying forms from food to technology support and classes. The most recent accomplishment has been working on how we will reopen our school safely when metrics allow our return.
Dr. Lawlor has clearly maintained that we will not return until it is safe for our families and staff. This was echoed by the COVID 19 Task Force at the December 10th Governing Board Meeting. They also stated there is no set date as to when we will return. Patricia Lopez, co-chair of the task force, stated that once a date has been set based on the metrics, there will be a 2 week window for teachers to return and teach from their classrooms. The district will also be finding out which students will return in person and what families would rather continue with distance learning. Families will be made aware if their children’s teachers may change. Teachers will choose to teach solely in the distance learning environment or teach only in the in-person environment. Teachers may be asked again if they are willing to do simultaneous teaching (both in-person and online). Currently, numbers are showing substantial risk if we were to go back in person, so again, there is no in-person return date as of now.
Throughout this pandemic, we have been separated through distance, but working together. We have continued to collaborate with families. We have continued to collaborate with colleagues. One thing that your Cartwright Education Association guarantees to continue to do is collaborate with the district to ensure we are not just hearing but listening the voices of all educational support professionals, families, teachers, and the community.
Shelley Knipe, CEA Secretary