Letter from HFT President Carol Gale to Chief of Schools Evette Avila

Date: October 27, 2020
Time: 12:31pm
Hi Evette,

We spoke previously about allowing teachers to work remotely on their next PD day which is November 3. Our discussions centered around the hybrid plan, which we have not yet implemented. Therefore, I ask that this option be provided regardless of what plan we are under. I offer the following rationale for this:

Employees are feeling incredibly stressed due to the increasing demands of working during a pandemic and in a manner that is entirely new to every single employee of HPS.
Central office personnel working from home to deliver PD, sends the message that there is a double standard in the district. They get to work from home and teachers do not. It does not matter what the rationale may be- and several people have explained the situation in central office that gave rise to the A/B work shifts- the perception is what we are dealing with.  That perception is that the health and safety of central office workers is more important than that of building-based staff. Or that the district trusts central office staff but not building-based staff. Whichever you choose, it is not a favorable outlook on the district.
COVID cases are rising in schools. Where we started with a case a day, we are now seeing 3-5 cases in a day. Some schools have had multiple cases within them.
Teacher anxiety reached new heights once they learned that evaluations would not be utilizing the flexibilities. Again, this produced a perception of rigidity on the part of the district. You and I have talked about the fact that evaluations always create stress and anxiety. That is raised 100-fold this year as all teachers are on a learning curve as newcomers to the world of teaching under the Return to Learn Plan.
Teachers are not collaborating or working in small groups during PD. They sit alone in a classroom, furthering feelings of isolation, frustration, and despair.
Working from home alleviates any needs for childcare on that day.
Custodians can focus on deep cleaning in buildings devoid of staff.

Giving teachers and other employees this one gesture of allowing them to work remotely from home on Nov. 3 would help show them that the district does indeed act in accordance to their stated concern for the health, safety, and well being of all members of our school communities. It would also help reduce stress instead of adding to it.

I can be available to discuss this request further if needed. Thank you for your attention to this matter.