GAHANNA, Ohio (WCMH) — Hundreds of Gahanna-Jefferson School District staff members stood in solidarity Monday, standing up against the district’s new proposed hybrid learning model.
They held yellow signs reading “Success,” “Equity,” and “Safety,” lining up outside of Gahanna Middle School and the construction site of the new Gahanna Elementary School. The superintendent and board were getting a look at the progress made to the building.
“We really have some serious concerns,” stated Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association Bargain Negotiator Bobby Swartzentruber. “Our teachers know our students best and they have the interest of the students and their families. That’s why we’re teachers.”
Swartzentruber is speaking out on behalf of all teachers behind this movement.
“Our main concern is a classroom at this point; keeping it a safe environment for the student and the teachers in the classroom,” he said.
He says that they haven’t had any direct answers about PPE accessibility and how classrooms will be sanitized.
He says another concern is the equity problem. The teachers want to make sure all students have the same access to quality education no matter where they are.
“We have an equity issue because in the hybrid model that’s been proposed, our 100 percent distant learners are basically stuck to only a camera in the classroom and we don’t feel that’s fair to the families who want to protect their children in this pandemic,” Swartzentruber said. “To have a streamed class where students are engaged in the classroom but their distant learners are simply watching and they won’t have that engagement.”
According to Swartzentruber, the district set up a task force that included educators that met over the summer, but he says what educators brought to the table wasn’t truly taken into consideration.
“But a lot of it seems to have fallen on deaf ears, a lot of this stuff that has been rolling out and we’ve expressed our concerns repeatedly and they’ve pushed ahead anyway,” he said.
Superintendent Steve Barrett released a statement about the teachers concerns and the new hybrid model.
“We recognize that the adjustments that must be made by our teaching teams are not easy, and we firmly believe we have respectfully addressed a number of their concerns and are committed to continuing the conversation,” Barrett said in a statement.
Swartzentruber also says they sent a cease and desist letter to the superintendent showing how serious they are about these concerns.
The district is set to begin hybrid learning on Oct. 13. Students will learn remotely Mondays and will alternate between in-class and remote learning every other day for the remainder of the week.
Barrett’s full statement is below. App users, tap here.