Teachers Union Says It's Too Dangerous To Reopen Baltimore County's Schools For Disabled Students | WYPR

Teachers Union Says It's Too Dangerous To Reopen Baltimore County's Schools For Disabled Students

Oct 13, 2020

Kelly Yalfani, a teacher at Ridge Ruxton School, speaking at TABCO's news conference October 13.
Credit John Lee

Teachers who work at Baltimore County’s four schools for severely disabled students say it is unsafe to return to class.

“Most of the students at our school cannot wear masks,” Kelly Yalfani, who teaches at Ridge Ruxton School, said at a news conference Tuesday. “And our staff toilet, feed, change clothes. You cannot socially distance from a person without a mask.”

Miriam Davis, a teacher at Maiden Choice School, said it seemed to her the disabled students are being treated as test cases for reopening schools.

“The majority of parents of the students I teach are either outright defiant about complying with student return, or are hesitant,” Davis said.

The school system plans to open those schools to students November 16. Teachers have to report November 2. They will be the first schools to open in Baltimore County since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The Teachers Association of Baltimore County, TABCO, said Tuesday it wants the administration to scrap plans to reopen those schools.

Under the reopening plan, parents have the option not to have their students return to classrooms in the four schools.

Baltimore County School Superintendent Darryl Williams said in a statement announcing the reopening plan last month school officials are “focused on providing rigorous and engaging instruction for all students and finding ways to provide in-person learning to those students who will benefit most."

TABCO wants all schools to remain closed until they meet CDC guidelines.

About 20 protesters, who want all county schools to reopen, crashed the TABCO news conference, including Stephanie Grace and her 11 year old son Ethan, who is in sixth grade at Dumbarton Middle School.

“Schools, they’re not really that fun without the teachers and all the interactions with other kids,” said Ethan. “And that kind of affects people’s grades.”

The teachers union and the protesters appear to agree on one thing: they want a more detailed plan on how all schools will reopen.

Suzanne Fowble, who has two children in the county schools, was holding up a sign that read “Classrooms, not computers.”

Fowble said, “I think we need a plan. I think there’s absolutely no reason why they can’t have a plan in place.”