No teachers arrived for the summer inservice day on Wednesday, August 19 after the School Board released a new plan allowing teachers to opt-out of the hybrid school model. “Despite how convincing the parents’ arguments were for returning to school, not a single teacher was persuaded to give in-person instruction,” commented a surprised member of the Radnor Township Education Association, which has come under heavy fire recently for trying to prioritize teachers’ health.
“Believe me, it was hard to refute the mom who astutely noted that ‘safety measures exist,’ the dad who pledged that ‘Radnor is a coronavirus-free zone,’ and especially the many parents who bragged that they ‘have the healthiest kids on the Main Line,’” one English teacher commented. “But at the end of the day, we were just waiting for one person to list a single, specific precaution that would guarantee teachers’ safety, and we got nothing.” Many teachers have lived in a state of mental anguish this past month, trying to justify virtual teaching when, as one Ithan Elementary School parent suggested, “The CDC predicts that teachers will be safe or something like that.”
The Teacher’s Union applauded the persuasive language employed by many community members. “Those who are arguing for an in-person reopening essentially nailed the Aristotle’s Triangle of Rhetoric, minus the logos, pathos, and ethos parts,” a 12th grade social studies teacher explained. Other teachers were simply confused if the reopening debate applied to them. “I can’t remember exactly what the terms of my employment are, but I feel like I deserve some say in these plans,” one math teacher commented, continuing that regardless he was “intimidated by the mildly threatening and thoroughly researched Instagram comments from @WayneMom4Life in favor of a hybrid reopening.” “Once I log on to Instagram and find that @WayneMom4Life posted another comment ripping into the School Board, I begin to question my will to defend my safety and health,” he added, referencing a recent comment in which she called the entirely virtual reopening the “shameful, pathetic, but ultimately predictable, result of only 23 cumulative hours of Zoom meetings and wasted time listening to experts and sound judgement.”
In addition to the devastating attacks from @WayneMom4Life, parents throughout the school district are up in arms about the new reopening plan. A coalition of stay-at-home parents shared that they found the decision “shocking” and “unfeasible.” At odds with the Radnor Essential Workers Guild, the Stay-At-Home Parents Coalition continues to criticize the district, arguing that the plan is not compatible with their daily shopping routines. “How can you expect me to feed, dress, and supervise my child when I have to go to Whole Foods at 8:30, LuLuLemon at 11:00, the King of Prussia Mall at 1:15, and J.P. Morgan at 4:45, all to be back by 6:00 for a virtual book club and wine tasting session with my friends?” a parent of a rising 10th grader asked. In response to backlash for their apologist views, the coalition’s president promised that the group only wants the best for “students, parents, and possibly teachers.”
Many students back their parents’ views, claiming that their only hope for learning this year is through an in-person system. “Last year, I spent 6, 8, sometimes even 10 hours per day working tirelessly on BigBlueButton,” one rising second grader commented, “virtual learning just takes a toll on my mental stamina and severely limits my ability to process new information on the likes of qualitative research, literary theory, and times tables.” Other students are confident that even without teachers, simply being in school will prove sufficient. “We are determined to get an excellent education, which is really all we have asked for during our time at Radnor. Unfortunately, this intellectual curiosity does not translate to giving a ¾, ½, or even ⅓ effort during online classes,” an RHS student body leader said.
For now, the classrooms in Radnor Township School District remain deserted. “We understood the risk of giving a rational group of people a rational option for the upcoming school year,” the School Board wrote in response to the teachers’ absence, “and hope you understand that we tried to force them into a more dangerous plan before we turned to this as a last resort.” Parents appear significantly more concerned about the teachers’ decisions: “How can we trust a group of educators who believe in science and public safety to properly instruct the next generation of leaders?”