Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Will Conestoga High School Students Return to Hybrid Learning Tomorrow?

As the snowstorm looms today, the clock is ticking for the District’s high school students return to the classroom. If you re-read Dr. Gusick’s message from Sunday, December 13, Conestoga HS is remote learning only through today. The District’s plan is for the high school to return to hybrid teaching starting tomorrow, December 17.

But here’s the question, will the District have sufficient CHS teachers for in-person teaching tomorrow? It is my understanding that 54 teachers at the high school were out on Monday. Has the teachers union opposition to in-person now changed?

It is unclear as to why the safety of the teachers in the classroom is focused primarily on the high school. Shouldn’t any health concerns associated with in-person teaching be District-wide and include the those teaching at the two middle schools and five elementary schools.

The widespread support and concern that many CHS students have shown this week for their teachers is strong. In the past, only occasionally have students responded to Community Matters posts yet a review of the latest comments indicates the safety of teachers in the classrooms has struck a chord with many.

The District students took to social media and created a petition titled “Give teachers the option to teach virtually or physically”. The opening paragraph of the petition reads as follows,

This petition is in support of the teachers’ petition to boycott the school with their sick days because the Tredyffrin Easttown School District requires all teachers to go physically to school while students have the option to go hybrid or virtual. The primary goal is to force the school board to allow the option for both physical and virtual teaching for teachers.

In a matter of a few days, the petition has already received over 1,000 signatures of support.

Regarding the District’s return to hybrid teaching, TEEA union president Amy Alvarez read a strongly worded statement of opposition and asked questions of the school board at its meeting last week. Without responding to Ms. Alvarez, the school board voted unanimously (9-0) to return to hybrid teaching. Why did no member of the school board answer the union president?

No one likes to feel marginalized or not heard. Whether it’s a resident asking a question at a school board meeting, or in this case, the president of the teachers union, all deserve a response. School board, silence is not a response. The topic of the question does not matter, communication is expected, and answers are deserved.

There’s another week of school before winter break — will all students return to hybrid learning tomorrow, December 17? We understand that these are unprecedented times, but communication is critical. School board, our community needs leadership from you.


A couple of notes: Since my previous post, I have been inundated with a firestorm of calls, emails and many, many comments. However, there are nearly 50 comments that were not posted because sadly their content was abusive, offensive or harassing.

In addition, the managerial board of The Spoke, Conestoga’s news source released the following statement:

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  1. The one thing I could think of it being an issue with the HS is that the HS students are primarily the ones getting together outside of school. Socializing, working and in general having a higher risk to exposure than middle and elementary students.

    1. probably, but you also have to remember that some people don’t believe in the virus. for example, ive heard a lot of parents saying they dont believe in the virus and seen many videos of adults going into stores without a mask. literally yesterday, a man took of his mask in the store my mother and i were in to take a call. CHS having a large enrollment and teacher requirement is definitely one of the reasons students want a choice and for their teachers to have a choice as well.

  2. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA1 requires any public agency (e.g. school district) to provide up to two weeks of paid sick leave to employees who are unable to work due to Covid reasons. The reasons are broad and listed below. With the introduction of several vaccines and the prediction of herd immunity by mid-2021 the use of the additional two weeks will expire during this school year.

    As with all sick leave, these two additional weeks of expiring paid sick leave are open to abuse by unethical employees. An employee participating in a sickout (falsely claiming sickness) gets the benefit of a paid “vacation” that does not affect the normal 10 days of paid sick leave granted each year. It would be interesting to know how many of the recently absent employees have applied for FFCRA leave.

    Reason for FFCRA leave:
    1. They are subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
    2. They have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
    3. They are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
    4. They are caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or who has been advised to self-quarantine.
    5. They are caring for their children because schools are closed, or child care is not available, due to COVID-19 precautions.

  3. ” It is my understanding that 54 teachers at the high school were out on Monday.”

    I’m curious, where did you get this information? How are you able to verify the accuracy of these statistics?

  4. From today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/17/20

    In the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District, Conestoga High School shifted to virtual instruction Monday based on the number of staff who have reported that they will be absent, the district said on its website. A union representative directed questions about the absences to the district; a district spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

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