On the Oct. 20, the USD 259 Board of Education made the decision for secondary schools to return in person with a blended model, a meeting that was originally scheduled for the following week. We spoke with the presidents of the board and the teachers’ union about that decision.
Kim Howard, president of United Teachers of Wichita expressed concern about why the meeting was moved up by a week.
“We did have a few concerns at the time just thinking about on we knew the data was going to keep increasing,” Howard said.
Board President Sheril Logan dismissed those concerns, saying that there was no ulterior motive to the date change.
“There’s conspiracy theory running around out there that we where looking and we moved because of what was going on that is so not true. We moved it so that the schools could have more time to get their kids into session and contact parents and do everything that they needed to do,” Logan said.
Another complaint made was at how the gating criteria had such little time dedicated to it during the meeting.
“(The board) just kind of threw that out the window and threw science out the window,” Howard said.
To which Logan responded that she “watch(es) that gating criteria every time it comes out.”
Another complaint that Howard voiced was that she feels that teachers concerns where not center stage. “I don’t think that they really did take the concerns of teachers into account.”
However, Logan says that there are a lot of different factors that they have to consider. “It’s not just one sided its not just the union, it’s not just the parents, it’s not just the students, it’s not just the teachers. it’s a combination of all of those.”
But Logan said that this is on of the most contentious decisions she has had to make. “Other than Desegregation way back in the ’70s this is the toughest thing I have ever had to do.”
The board says they are willing to reconvene if any new data comes to light. “We’re heading in the wrong direction and if we need to we’ll call another special meeting,” Logan said
Howard reiterates that the union hopes the board makes their decision based on science. “We do have a lot of teachers that have underlying medical conditions or they have family members at home that have underlying medical conditions and they are very nervous about taking this into their home.”