Posted in Thoughts About Children

Will A Distance of Three Feet be Safe for Our Children?

I do have my concerns with this newest change in lowering the distance among children to three feet…

In order for children, teachers and essential staff to be able to adhere, and rely on all levels of safety protocols… the extra funding from President Biden’s Covid Relief Bill, and vaccination will definitely help…

However, now allowing a three feet distance among our children… How safe will the classroom be? Is this a change do to the fact, it would be easier to implement in a smaller, older classrooms, which many older schools still have?

From my own experience in that small, older classroom….Children do get ill…And teachers do too!!!

We were so close…Germs everywhere..It was extremely difficult to separate, and sanitize…Our custodial staff…on call…and understaffed…

Now with a pandemic!

And in fact, presently it is reported because children have been isolated for so long, there is an uptick of colds among children when they have returned to social situations, and they can carry the coronavirus and other viruses as well…

The data reflects

Children and COVID-19:
State Data Report

A joint report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association
Summary of publicly reported data from 49 states, NYC, DC, PR, and GU… Version: 3/11/21

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MYF8uxFho-u3cPisOKGau08F8HwZUrI2/view?usp=drivesdk

As of March 11, over 3.28 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. Nearly 53,000 new child COVID-19 cases were reported last week. This marks the 8th consecutive week with a decline in new cases.

The age distribution of reported COVID-19 cases was provided on the health department websites of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Children represented 13.2% of total cumulated cases in states reporting cases by age.

A smaller subset of states reported on hospitalizations and mortality by age; the available data indicated that COVID-19-associated hospitalization and death is uncommon in children.

At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is rare among children. However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects.

Schools can allow social distancing of three feet, rather than six currently, between students in classrooms, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday in what is expected to be a boost to reopening of schools nationwide…

The CDC’s long-awaited guidance on how schools can safely reopen comes after lawmakers and parents have become increasingly concerned about returning to in-person education to help with children’s learning and social development after some students have had virtual classes for a year or more…

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement that the agency is committed to leading with science and updating guidance as new evidence emerges.

“Safe in-person instruction gives our kids access to critical social and mental health services that prepare them for the future, in addition to the education they need to succeed,” Walensky said. “These updated recommendations provide the evidence-based road map to help schools reopen safely, and remain open, for in-person instruction…

Elementary school children can be at least three feet apart in classrooms, the CDC said. The same guidance applies to middle and high school students unless they’re in areas of high community transmission. Levels of community transmission are defined as the total new Covid cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days — low being up to nine, and high being 100 cases or more. Schools are encouraged to adjust classroom layouts to maximize distance between students, and desks should face the same direction when possible.

However, the CDC continues to recommend at least six feet of distance for other situations. For example, children must keep six feet apart in circumstances when wearing a mask is not possible, such as when eating. Activities that involve increased exhalation, such as singing, band, or sports should also adhere to the six-foot rule, and take place outdoors when possible.

Teachers and staff are expected to maintain six feet between one other and between students, as research shows that adult-to-adult transmission is most common in schools than transmission between students or between students and teachers… The recommendations on testing allow for safe participation in sports. Schools may consider testing student-athletes, coaches, parents, or other adults who support extracurricular activities.

During a press briefing Friday Walensky responded to a question on why the CDC’s new research on schools did not address underfunded urban schools.

There is growing evidence from many different school settings that did not control for ventilation to demonstrate that it’s safe in classrooms where masks are worn and students are at least three feet apart, Walensky said. “We are following the science and we’ve done the science, and we’ve seen the science to ensure that this is safe for those schools,” she said.

Teacher unions across the country have opposed reopening schools out of safety concerns. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told the New York Times this week she was concerned about the possibility of new guidelines, and suggested the CDC might have been pressured to shift its guidance.

In response to a question, Walensky said she had spoken to representatives of the unions.

“They know that we need to follow the science and to make our guidance based on that science, and they were very respectful of that,” Walensky said.

The Biden administration Wednesday said it would provide states billion of dollars for Covid-19 testing to help reopen schools safely. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is allocating $10 billion to help schools screen teachers, staff and students.

Another $2.25 billion will support scaled-up testing in underserved populations and the development of new guidance on screening in schools, workplaces and congregate settings.Three studies, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Friday, said evidence shows that physical distancing of at least three feet between students can safely be adopted in classroom settings.

I do hope these changes do not affect a positive outcome…

Our children, teachers and essential staff, deserve to be safe…

In my many years of teaching, my main focus was….to reach all of my children…That….along with the rigors of the required curriculum…I believed in order for young children to be successful…they needed to know I cared…

Since this new millennium, especially teaching children from a diverse African American background…

I believed…those children needed to feel pride in their history…not just in February, when Black History is part of the curriculum…

I felt taking those opportunities when I could to fit in to our day..

Talks about how their values of character such as: kindness, working hard, and … never giving up!
Are those qualities that people should be judged…

And not by what they look like…

I would always call upon that memory of

Dr, Martin Luther King” …

And how much he believed and never giving up on this Dream….

Using myself as an example of when I was a young child I would share that I would watch the news about Dr. King on television… and what a special man…he was…

…My children with eyes wide open felt that he was real , because Ms Sexton saw him!!!

I would also emphasize the story of Rosa Parks, as another real person, I also heard about when I was little, and her bravery in how she spoke out, and took a stand to something that was wrong!

All my personal anecdotes helped convey their history in a very relatable way…Making it relevant and hoping they too would be proud of who the are ; striving for values and achievement

All our children, whatever their ethnicity… race… religion… would be…

In our classroom…they were loved…And accepted…!!!

Black History all Year…

Posted in Thoughts About Children

2019…When will our Children be that Priority?

When will educating all our children be a priority?

At the beginning of my teaching career in the early seventies… schools were finally integrated and and the funding of federal programs such as Head Start…were in place to provide the necessary resources to help with educating all children that were in need ….

I was so inspired and hopeful to be a part of this moment…We were giving our children opportunities they never had before….

However, progress slowed down in the nineties due to the enactment of “No Child Left Behind”… by then Florida Governor Jeb Bush…

This policy would continue through the millennium and into the present….

Even with the Obama administration, who too, was a proponent of privatization and the charter school movement…Monies that had once been allocated to our public schools were now being funneled back into private schools with our tax dollars;
Affecting many of the necessary resources and programs that had been in place, providing our children… a chance for that strong, public education….

We in turn began utilizing into the curriculum, thanks to Bill Gates and his Foundation… Core Curriculum, a developmentally inappropriate curriculum; which included the use of a sophisticated battery of standard testing…

Trying to bridge this learning gap associated to those children who struggle …

Now resulting in an inappropriate program with more objectives and standards for children to master…With fewer resources to meet those standards!

Then, just before President Obama left office, finally realizing our children in public schools deserved more opportunities to achieve success, he signed:

The Every Student Succeeds Act in December 2015 that governs the United States K–12 public education policy. This new law was to replace , the No Child Left Behind Act, …This was to be that wonderful opportunity for all children…

Continue reading “2019…When will our Children be that Priority?”

Posted in Reflections

Along My Teaching Journey…

Graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, on March 18th, 1972, just three days after my twenty-third birthday… I was so ready to influence; moreover make a difference for our children… Being a mother of a two year old, I was so excited to make that impact!

I was so willing to travel ninety miles a day to teach at an elementary school in a diverse community…So, on April 1, 1972, I began this journey, to Browning Pearce Elementary in Palatka, Florida… At the time, we had just gone through integration, and that particular school had two campuses… One originally being the school for African American students, was now the school’s intermediate grades…And I was to finish the year in a fourth grade…

Boy, how unready I was… Yet so very excited…It was the last ten weeks of school, and I was assigned to take over a for a seasoned teacher, who was relocating to Tallahassee to be with her husband …

I might have cried most days feeling overwhelmed, however with the wonderful assistant principal, and a caring colleague…I made it through!! Learning so very much ; This challenging opportunity was just my beginning!!!

The next year I was then assigned to teach kindergarten …Not being certified, I was required to get early childhood classes from my alma mater, University of Florida, to be certified in early childhood … This wonderful placement was an opportunity for such growth… My love for young children, and an appreciation of diversity thrived…Many of whom had been migrants

My next opportunity in my teaching career lead me a little closer to home, now I was only traveling about 30 miles a day to a newly integrated community elementary school… Alachua Elementary…Another diverse population of young children…first working as a paraprofessional, then teaching first graders….

This placement was for sixteen years, from seventy four to ninty; These were exciting times for public education and children coming from diversity… I felt my passion for teaching flourish …The federal government was providing programs and resources for our children…
At Alachua…I have some of my fondest memories in my years of teaching…I had the wonderful opportunity of team teaching with Mary Towers, a seasoned teacher…We taught together for nine wonderful years…teaching  high risk first graders…in one such federally funded program…“Early Childhood Preventative Curriculum”,ECPC…

I learned so much about the developmental ablities of young children with the challenges they may face…  However, with a smaller class size, and the extra assistance of an aide… And curriculum developmentally appropriate….I was to learn later, that many of our children grew into successful adults…

Upon Mary’s retirement in 1984, which tremendously impacted my growth …

I had another strong influence on my career, team teaching with Wetona Johnson…We taught together for five years…teaching first grade in Chapter I; Another federally funded program giving young children extra reinforcement in reading and math skills…

I must also thank the the two principals I worked under at Alachua Elementary School, who guided this growth…

First of whom was Mr. Bill Irby…A man of tremendous integrity… When Mr. Irby retired…this wonderful community even built an elementary school in his honor…
The second was another strong leader, Mrs. Pansy Post…who became principal of Alachua when Mr. Irby retired…Mrs. Post brought such a creative flair to Alachua…

I must again acknowledge and appreciate these opportunities that instilled such values making me the strong teacher I was to became; sixteen glorious years at Alachua Elementary …

I was now forty years old…a seasoned teacher ready for my next learning opportunity…And now I was closer to home, by less than five miles… Terwilliger Elementary…A neighborhood school enriched with diversity….A wonderful blend of students…This was nineteen eighty-nine, and public education was changing, not for the better… Here in Florida, we especially felt this impact with the “No Children Left Behind Act” thanks to our Governor, Jeb Bush… If it weren’t for the blend of wonderfully talented and professional teachers; and that mixture of diverse students, these years were filled with such blessings… I was able to teach upper level students: a year in fourth grade, and five years at fifth grade…Both were great… I also had the opportunity to teach second grade for five years…Even taking an educational sabbatical where I was able to attend the University of Florida in graduate level courses in counseling education…

However, due to health issues, I retired in 2002… after thirty years… I was so proud of my years of inspiring and influencing children…

I still had more to accomplish in my teaching career….More children needed my influence, especially in the times we were heading, in the twenty first century…

So, I was so blessed to be able to resume my teaching career in 2008…at Idywild Elementary, a diverse population of children where many of my students were from challenging homes situations….

I was back teaching first grade…. where, with the many years of experience, I was able to provide my children a strong, structured, safe and loving classroom…. Moreover, with a strong support staff providing our children the best education we were able…And, given these times of less funds…more testing and developmentally inappropriate curriculum…

Our children were successful!!!

As for me…What a gift I was given…to be able to teach eight more years, thirty-eight in all …I then felt I was ready to  retire from my teaching career …in 2015…

These last eight years at Idywild turned out to be my most rewarding…I truly felt I had made that difference I so hoped when I began this journey!!!

And now have the time advocating for our children, and their right to a strong public school education….

Posted in Thoughts About Children

The Hearts of the School…

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I have learned through all my experiences as a teacher, there are those special individuals that complement the classroom teacher…They are those that foster a warm, caring climate …for children…

One of those, is a strong support staffThese special people interact with the children out side of the classroom… And their interactions are extremely beneficial to the care and welfare of children…

In this group, are those busy, caring office personnel; never too busy, to handle the many situations that occur each and everyday

Even before the day officially starts…These wonderful people utilize their talents to answer concerns that adults may have, and that particular child needing assistance, and moreover they will always find the time to wipe away the tears when a child needs some love…The office personnel are most times, the first to meet parents and make that initial important contact, even before they meet with their child’s classroom teacher…

Another caring person, we teachers can not say enough about is the importance of the school nurse

She or he is that loving pair of hands that is there for those medical needs of children … Along with the many medical talents and duties a school nurse is responsible for, besides the dispensing of the medications and taking care of cuts and scrapes … is taking that extra time to be a good listener to that child in need or just may need to look for a warm jacket on a cold morning to finding dry clothes if a little one has an accident…

A warm and caring climate would not be successful without the caring support of the custodial staff...

They not only have the important task of keeping the school clean and safe…Being many times understaffed, they are utilized to their full talents and capacity…They also are another pair of hands or heart, when a child needs just that…love…

Through my experiences. I must add how the cafeteria and cafeteria staff affect the climate of the school…

They are the providers of nutritious meals for the children prepared with love and care… The cafeteria is that meeting place in the mornings where all the children are provided breakfast… For many children this meal is free and most need to get the day started on that full tummy…and warm hearts…Helping with their success in the classroom…

Lunch time too is a very important part of the children’s day… The cafeteria staff provides another nutritious meal, however now due to government constrains will no longer be so nutritious, and may be no longer free for those children in need… Lunch time is a favorite time for children to socialize appropriately… Caring support staff monitors children’s needs giving them loving attention…

In addition, I can not forget the many other support teachers who reinforce curriculum… providing academic support for those children in need, and moreover another loving heart…

When children have the opportunity to play out doors, a strong Physical Education Program provides just the right skills children need to learn; how to play cooperatively with a love and appreciation for good health through their exerciseHowever, because of funds and schedules, this may just be once a week…

A physical education teacher provides this important knowledge and the necessary skills children need with the awareness of each child’s abilities and development…

However, children may get another opportunity to free play at recess, which they need and love…and gives them more time to practice cooperation and social skills … This free play time releases their pent up energy from the hours in the classroom…Sadly, recess may not be allowed due to governmental constraints…

Art and music are wonderful programs where children have an opportunity to utilize their creativity and release emotions constructively

These creatively talented, loving teachers who teach the arts, give their time to children to enable free expression …Many children who may not be strong in academics, may find success, love and passion through the arts!!!! Music and art teachers are a strong support to enhance this creativity and free expression children…

We can not forget to recognize bus drivers who are a special group of men and women

They are responsible for children getting to and from school each day…Our bus drivers must take extra precautions for the welfare of children…. Children safety is the utmost importance…Children may have had a hard morning or a challenging day… The bus driver, with a loving heart and driving skills, must utilize all his or her talents making sure the children will arrive safe and sound…And we must say thank you!

A warm and caring school climate impacts the hearts of children hopefully enabling them to have a successful education….And feel loved!!!

2c3d19e6946923cbac75990147e20316This time of year, back in the day…My classroom was the place for fun that inhanced our  learning….We had time to incorporate into the  curriculum,  learning through special art  and  creative poetry projects that were made for our parents, as holiday gifts…

We truly enjoyed taking  two special  field trips to  magical places that our  children got to experience first hand: visiting a pumpkin patch farm and  the viewing of the Nutcracker Ballet…Some of our children would never have had those opportunities…What learning!

We spent a great deal of time learning and appreciating different cultures and how they celebrated the season…And finally,  the children couldn’t wait for the culmination of the celebration of the season with our holiday cookie exchange…Then off for winter break!!!

It is my hope that  our public school teachers continue these beautiful traditions for our children…As we know, there are those children who especially need to know the Beauty of the Season…

This could be a Season of Miracles…

Our Season of Thanks….

Posted in Mission, Reflections

School Spirit…

With the beginning of a new school year, and the start of my second year since retiring…I am ready to reflect on those many wonderful memories …

The one I do hold dearly is that all through my thirty-eight years…I truly appreciate my children allowing me such a wonderful platform where I could utilize my unique sense of drama and creative talents into my teaching..

In today’s challenging times, with fewer resources, and many demands of teaching; even after these many years; It was the children’s love and innocence that provided me with passion to inspire them utilizing my enthusiasm and my strong sense of spirit…

They were a wonderful audience where each day was unique… And led to my success I felt as a teacher…

It was always my goal to find the fun… And now, I can recollect those moments of fun a teacher shares with his or her children… Through this captive audience, my children allowed me to keep my spirit alive…Keeping “the child in me alive”…

When I first began teaching in the early “Seventies”, I was young and fresh; our curriculum allowed time for the fun…We got to bake more often…Play and theater was a big part of the day…I myself enjoyed the opportunity to use drama in the classroom… I felt like I was playing a role, putting on a performance…to engage with the children…Never a dull moment…Each day was a new beginning….The years flew right on by….

Teaching the children of today, has certainly become much more serious… than just the “play”… I have needed to become a strong, positive role model… incorporating “my spirit’ to get their attention…even to manage behavioral issues…

For many of the children, I was their one positive constant in their lives… Utilizing my drama and creative spirit to reach them, even for that moment…Hopefully touching their lives forever…

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