October 21, 2020

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CEA report highlights disparities among school districts in education, safety amid pandemic

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Education Association just released a survey that details how...

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Education Association just released a survey that details how much of a toll the pandemic is taking on local schools.

According to the organization, nearly 2,000 teachers cited huge disparities in education and safety when comparing school districts, especially those in the Alliance Districts — the 33 lowest-performing districts in the state.

In low performing or low-income districts, only 49 percent of teachers said their classrooms are disinfected daily, compared with 64% of teachers in non-Alliance Districts.

Nearly half of teachers said they’re not provided with enough PPE like masks.

“Our teachers shared their experiences regarding the lack of school funding; shortages of PPE, cleaning supplies, and learning resources; limited technology and access to the Internet; poor ventilation; and no plans to engage absent students,” said CEA President Jeff Leake, adding, “These are all things needed to keep school communities safe and the staff in place to help students achieve. These issues are most severe in our lowest-performing school districts. We must demand changes in policies, programs, and practices that condone or ignore unequal justice and hinder student success.”

“We have PPE, but not great quality,” one teacher added. “I don’t think we have funding to staff full in-person learning with six feet of social distancing, and we don’t have the correct ventilation.”

The survey also highlighted the following safety issues:

⦁ Air ventilation is a major problem in all schools, but it is more severe in Alliance Districts, with 78% of those teachers saying their buildings and classrooms are not properly ventilated, compared with 66% of teachers in non-Alliance Districts.
⦁ Three-quarters (75%) of Alliance District teachers and 64% of teachers in other districts are not confident that aggressive contact tracing measures are in place in their schools.
⦁ More than one in five teachers (21%) in non-Alliance District said students are not receiving the accommodations identified in their IEPs; that number jumps to 33% in Alliance Districts.

When it came to accessing recourses and supplies, it found that disparities continued.

⦁ Nearly half (48%) of Alliance District teachers (25% of teachers in other districts) say students don’t have the school resources and supplies that ensure they can fully access the curriculum.
⦁ More than half (57%) of Alliance District teachers are not receiving the services and supplies for distance learning that enable them to perform their jobs efficiently, compared with 41% of teachers in non-Alliance Districts.
⦁ More than one-quarter (26%) of Alliance District teachers (14% of teachers in other districts) say students don’t have the computer devices they need.
⦁ More than one-third (35%) of Alliance District teachers (14% of teachers in other districts) say their students don’t have access to the Internet.

“We are witnessing a broader awareness of inequities in our school districts and the dire consequences that come with them,” said Leake. “We must create long-term solutions for addressing and ending the inequities that we have always known to exist, which have been brought to the forefront in this pandemic, and combat the structural factors that prevent mostly black and brown students from receiving equitable educational opportunities.”

“Everything is on the teachers, from tech issues to buying our own supplies that the district will not reimburse us for to keep our students safe,” one teacher said.

“Teaching children in front of me at the same time as at home is impossible. I cry every day because it’s impossible to do a great job…I can barely do a good job,” another added.

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