T/E School Board Meeting Last Night – In the words of the Board President, “We Have No Plan”

The important board meeting last night left many of us with a lot more questions than answers! Starting about 15 minutes late, it was two hours in before there were any comments/questions from the community.

Compounding the situation (and presumably to speed up the process), board president Michelle Burger had the District solicitor read the questions/comments from residents in groups of four or more. Residents take the time to thoughtfully write questions – and this is the District’s response, really unacceptable.

From my vantage point, for the 3-1/2 hours that I watched, it was an impossible meeting. For residents who attended the meeting looking for a straightforward plan forward for their children to return to school, it lacked direction and was no doubt disappointing.

The pandemic has been with us for a year, where is the District’s plan for going forward? Other school districts have worked on multiple scenarios, why haven’t we? At approximately 9:50 PM, the board president commented, “We don’t have a plan”. And therein lies the problem.

In the spring of 2020, the District set up a pandemic reopening group which included parents. What happened to that group, did they ever meet? Where’s that input in the decision-making process? What about the parents survey from last week, was that information considered and included for the meeting last night?

A few of my takeaway points –

(1) No vote on fully reopening the schools would be taken at the meeting

(2) There will be a special meeting on Monday, March 1 dedicated to the school reopening issue

(3) The earliest that schools may fully reopen is March 15.

I have attended school board meetings for years – and without question, last night’s meeting was the most frustrating and void of answers. Parents needed reassurance and to know that their voices have been heard – the school board and administration needed to say that they have been heard. The community needed to hear that you are really working on a plan (not that you have NO plan) and that you are committed to getting the kids back to school.

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      1. Doesn’t the school board govern what the admin requests? School boards are not there to micro manage.

        Of course, this does not address the poop show going on in TE now. You can’t govern nothin!!

        At least in Phoenixville, our plan includes double masking. I triple dawg dare you to move on that one.

    1. Because they signed a MOU with union at beginning of pandemic that basically gives teachers until next school year to come back before there are consequences! Idiot move – yes! Giving the store away for a dime – yes, though we didn’t even get a dime!!! The administration and school board are one in the same and terrible all the way around… change! We need to change out every single one of them starting with the board and dr. Gusick…

      1. ***FYI there are not too many Alicia’s around here, so I wanted to clarify that comment above is not mine. This is Alicia M from Beaumont – I’m very active in the school community so I just wanted to make sure this was not attributed to me. #thanksmom

      2. Hi Alicia

        You do realize teachers have been back in the building for months now right? Please stop spreading misinformation.

  1. This board and admin are horrific. 1 year of doing NOTHING!!! Teachers should be essential workers. VOTE THEM OUT. Gusick needs to resign. We need a bipartisan board. They voted with the UNION. Wake up TE!!!!

        1. The plan will model the newest CDC guidelines allowing a three foot distance between student
          desks.

          The likely scenario will be to keep the virtual option for those who need it while also returning students to in person. The school must meet the child where they are for their free education mandated by law.

          Of course, parents and kids must fill out Covid survey, get screened and continue wearing masks with safe distancing.

          Obviously, there are already students in school on a hybrid cycle ( First half of the alphabet comes first two days of the week and last half attend last two days with all students virtual on Wednesday).

          Some teachers are being vaccinated especially those who are working with higher risk situations.
          The school plans to do a pilot program with volunteer teachers to do antigen testing (similar to Philly schools in conjunction with CHOP.

          There is a Covid Director at TE.
          All schools have one.

          Finally any uptick in transmission rates could close a building or the school for safety reasons.

          The virus is still out there. There are better treatment option but no cure yet. More people vaccinated is key with antigen testing to catch a symptomatic and symptomatic cases.
          I as a substitute registered nurse know the COVID 19 plan will be in the best interests of our kid’s health to promote safe learning.

  2. The bottom line is the teachers don’t want to go back. The Administration supports the teachers. The Board backs whatever the Administration wants because there are teachers and an Administrator on the Board.

    Focus on the upcoming School Board Election. Vote in people who understand what really goes on; people who will represent kids, and parents.

    1. Yes! Administration supports the Union/teachers in TESD. BUT, the board is beholden to the admin to make their decisions. They cannot make informed decisions without the information provided to them by Gusick and Co. I assure you that almost every word you heard from your board came from the admin. Without a trustworthy, ethical admin, we cannot ensure that we have a system that works effectively. Stop blaming the board and start blaming the BOSS!!! #gusisksgottago

      We will keep getting board members who can’t do a thing with the
      Admin we have!

      1. #gusickgottogo,

        I don’t understand your logic. Gusick only leaves by one of two ways.
        1) He voluntarily resigns (unlikely)
        2) The board fires him

        If you want prompt affirmative action you’ll need alternative #2 and that requires action by the board. So, I’m unsure how “blaming [Gusick]the BOSS” or displaying yard signs gets you anywhere. The real “BOSS” is the school board. Since they seem satisfied with his performance there is no incentive for Gusick to change his behavior nor is there any indication the board would remove him.

        Plus, If you want Gusick gone the district is legally obligated to buy out his contract that runs until June 2023. That would amount to about a half-million dollars. (2 years at $250K per year)

  3. The meeting was awful. Is that the best the #1 school district can do?

    We’ve got the school board president declaring that there’s no plan, so are we to believe that by next Monday night there WILL be a plan? What a joke.

    An entire year has gone by and where are we in the process to reopen? Why is it other school districts can do it? Why do other districts have real plans in place. Why is it other school boards and administrators actually listen to the constituents?

    TE Needs a Plan!!

    1. TE Needs a Plan,

      The answer to your questions is very simple. We handed over all our power to the Administration when we elected them to serve on our School Board. This Board will never vote to oust Gusick. Vote in candidates who will.

      The answer is to focus on the upcoming School Board Election and vote in qualified people who will make sure kids come first.

      1. Check out the current candidates and see who will buck the trend. It seems as if they will all continue to perpetuate the same old thing. None will stand up to admin!! #gusicksgottago

  4. As long as shade continues to be thrown on pro-opening parents that they are anti-teacher or not concerned about teachers’ lives, this standoff and polarization of the community will continue. Teachers who are 1A qualify for the vaccine now as do everyone in the state with these health risks. Teachers who are 1B asking to be in 1A would bump those in 1A who face negative outcomes by diverting limited vaccine resources. The visceral comments made by parents and yes, even by teachers, at parents expressing their children’s real needs to go back in person are shameful and are cyber bullying. Those same individuals turn around and throw shade accusing those pro-opening parents of not being respectful. Schools are safe to reopen based on safety protocols, published science, healthcare leaders, and more than six months of observation of schools that have already done it. Many families want it but the real issue is the significant number of families who need it because their children are not thriving and are suffering. Schools have not been super spreaders. Let’s end the unsubstantiated scare tactics and move forward together.

  5. As a parent, I was happy to see that they are listening, and if the metrics are out of high for 3 weeks, students will have more days (4 or 5, TBD).
    It has been almost a year, and, the health authorities are being more flexible on distancing.
    Not wishing to argue with anyone on my interpretation of the meeting or my opinion stated here.
    I like the plexiglass idea that was brought up by parents, and would like to see that for my youngest, as his classes are the most likely to go less than 6-feet, and, there is already plexiglass in storage. I am “Team Plexiglass” whenever possible, especially during lunch.
    I think the board and Superintendent made a point to address all the questions parents submitted as long as their township was included, many questions were repetitive, but, it showed what many parents are thinking. The topic of Radnor district being more proactive was kind of both addressed and sidestepped. I expect a lot of comments and debates about that. Pretty much President Burger sees the county health services as the experts, just like the PIAA, and, is going to follow suit. Really, we are right in line if not ahead of other public schools in Chester County was the gist of what Dr. Gusick said. They exhibited a lot of patience and I was pleased.
    Again, not engaging in any debates or arguments, just stating my take on the meeting. It was hopeful. This has been a long trek.

  6. Jessica,

    Just so you know, they say what they think you want to hear and then do nothing, or they do whatever it is they want to do. They’ll drag this out, giving you little dribs and drabs, you’ll cling to tiny droplets of hope which makes you stop speaking out, and before you know it, it’s June and they go on their 3 month vacation, from their previous 9 month vacation.

    1. Watcher, this is the most Prescient observation I’ve seen. Spot on!! Gusick will reel in the parent leaders of the most recent grassroots group and he will groom them to dissuade the crowds from speaking up. Then, he will implement systems and policies to support his staff, not the kids.

      #gusicksgottago

  7. I wish someone can tell me how they were able to wrestle this year but debate having kids ride a bus, eat lunch at school or sit 3’ apart.
    Sports trump academics as usual.

    1. Did anybody catch the dowel comment Gusick made? Was he saying that it was going to take time to cut the dowels? Or that they didn’t know how long to cut the dowels? Or both? Hopefully they will have a chance to study that and make some recommendations by the next meeting.

  8. Stop. Yelling. About. The Union. Don’t let a tv network tell you they’re the enemy in this situation because they just aren’t at all.

    This is the world we live in where everyone has to pick a side and scream at each other, especially people behind a keyboard.

    Teachers are more than happy going back once they’re vaccinated. They hate the current model. They want to come back. However especially at the high school level, kids are contagious and they wear stupid masks like gaiters that barely do anything. Even still, teachers overwhelmingly want to go back with a vaccination that makes their risk of getting seriously ill/sick minimal.

    Let’s all get on the same page and just yell with one voice to get all teachers vaccinated. THAT SOLVES EVERYTHING.

    Your dermatologist and everyone in the office got vaccinated. Why are they more essential than teachers?? That’s a really bad job by our state government and something our local officials have barely any control over.

    I know this is hard to hear but you should mad way higher up than Admin, School Board, Superintendent, teachers, union, or whatever else local thing you think will make you feel better yelling at who has to listen.

    1. There are LOTS of people that would like to get vaccinated before they go back to work. You can’t compare teachers to health care providers. Grocery, transportation, restaurant, scientists at drug companies, factory works. The list of people that go to work with groups of people is endless and they would all their risk of getting ill minimized.

      1. There are lots of people that would like to get vaccinated. Agreed. However, new CDC study says most school outbreaks originate from teachers. So in the best interest of the children, WE SHOULD VACCINATE TEACHERS. We all know the ventilation isn’t up to snuff, especially when it’s cold and windows can’t be opened. There’s 120k teachers in PA public schools. That is not a crazy number to vaccinate. There are a ton of health care workers far less exposed to covid than teachers. We need to make them a priority for our children’s sake, ours and theirs. I also think this is all moot with how many shots are about to be available yet people want to yell at each other when this will resolve on its own with more vaccinations happening all the time.

    2. You are right. This is unfortunate for everyone. Currently, 1A in Pennsylvania is only those most likely to have a negative outcome of hospitalization or death from COVID and those that treat them (medical and nursing care workers). A dermatologist is a doctor. Everyone in a doctor’s office interacts with patients. A teacher is absolutely a vital essential worker and hopefully no one is questioning that. There are millions of other essential workers, most of whom are in person. None of them are eligible yet in this state unless they are 1A for their own medical or age reasons. If vaccine production wasn’t already maxxed out for global need, then this could be expedited. With a shortage of vaccines, diverting vaccines to teachers would directly take them from people already in 1A who are having trouble getting them now. Literally millions of Pennsylvanians. It would also position teachers as more important than all other essential workers who are already working in person, many in far worse and constrained conditions. There aren’t extras vaccines. This is unfortunate but true. Saying “once they’re vaccinated” is disagreeing with Dr. Fauci who says that is not needed for a safe return to school.

    3. Dermatologists got vaccinated bc they have been working in person and exposing themselves to a revolving door of patients who halfway wear masks in offices with antiquated ventilation systems for months. They get priority bc they have placed themselves at risk to protect and provide for your health, something most school districts have not been willing to do in the name of educating children.

  9. Not sure who is yelling. Debate, as the country was founded, leads to sound solutions.

    My simple questions:

    Do the teachers want to teach in person?

    Do the students want to go back to school?

    What is the difference between health recommendations and laws?

    Why not have an option for kids to repeat their grade?

    If the online schooling is working, why not keep it going for the foreseeable future and open the schools to have room monitors only for online schooling next school year? This could save us lots of $$$?

  10. It’s troubling that there is no plan for resuming instruction at TESD. A draft revision of Chester County Health Department guidance was circulated to all school district superintendents prior to Feb 3 which relaxed spacing guidelines.

    (listen at the 2:00:00 mark at the 2/3/2021 Delaware County supervisors meeting) https://www.delcopa.gov/council/video.html

    It’s surprising the board and the administration haven’t been able to articulate a plan with a timeline for returning to full in-person instruction. The district knew they would eventually need to return to in-person instruction. The plan should have been in place for months. What’s making TESD so slow compared to other neighboring districts?

  11. I have two elementary school kids. Their teachers all teach at the classroom. From what I read above, the challenge is at older kids, especially the high school kids. If that is the case, can we open elementary and middle schools, but keep high school the same as now? If I understand correctly, keeping young kids at home to take virtual class is far more challenging than older ones for parents. Considering the different needs at different ages, we might reach a better conclusion.

  12. We support TE teachers!

    It’s a shame their union does not support them. All those union dues, you would think the union would be able to represent the teachers and use their political capital to secure vaccines for their members.

  13. Gusick wouldn’t even commit to being back five days in the fall. I heard blah blah don’t know what the future holds blah blah couldn’t have predicted a year ago we would be here…blah blah. We all know that and have been managing our expectations for 11 months.

    I needed him to say yes, we will move heaven and earth, and the kids will be back. It is disappointing how he shrinks from opportunities to lead and inspire.

  14. I no longer have school age children. I’m glad I don’t have to decide whether to keep my children home or send them to school.
    I see both sides of the issue and there is no perfect answer. I do have a comment though. If the school district thinks it is safe for the teachers and students to be back in person then why are school board meetings still being held virtually and why is there nobody working in the school tax office??? I’ve made two calls and left messages with a couple people with a simple question and still no response after 3 days. The phone message says they are working virtually. Still??? There have been comments on here about the teachers being lazy. They are NOT lazy. If teachers, paras, aides, nurses, cafeteria staff, secretaries, custodians and bus drivers are expected to be back in the school buildings full time, ALL the district staff should be back to work. Fair is fair.

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