Carman-Ainsworth teachers request to work from home during pandemic

FLINT TWP. — A group of teachers is calling on Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools to allow them to work from home to start the 2020/2021 school year.

At the Sept. 1 Carman-Ainsworth School Board meeting, several teachers voiced concerns about reporting back to their respective buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers in the Carman-Ainsworth Community School District are being required to deliver virtual instruction from their classrooms, even as students begin the fall semester with online classes at home.

Sara Prosch, a special education teacher at Carman-Ainsworth, said that she and her colleagues should be given the option to work from home during the pandemic—especially teachers who can’t arrange for childcare or who have family members with underlying health conditions.

“I understand that we’re phasing teachers in first, then students, but we need more flexibility,” she said. “I agree that our kids should start online, but I don’t want to risk everything for my family by going to class to teach.”

Carrie Mattern, an ELA teacher at Carman- Ainsworth, said that she worked hard to master online instruction during the statewide shutdown in the spring and wants to be given the chance to teach her pupils from home until public health conditions improve.

“We’re frustrated that we aren’t being trusted to work from our homes, and that we’re not being treated as professionals,” she said. “We want to be trusted and to have choice to work at home or to work in our classrooms.”

Carman-Ainsworth Superintendent Eddie Kindle said that having staff report to their buildings is the best way for teachers to implement instruction, while staying within safety guidelines provided by the state’s Back to School Roadmap. He also said that teachers will have access to the district technology network and robust bandwidth, along with computers, whiteboards, video web cams, classroom phones and any additional resources that they need to assist students.

“We wholeheartedly believe that in order to provide an optimal, as close to traditional learning environment as possible—which students have become accustomed to—a classroom setting is the best environment,” he said.

Kindle said that the district will follow procedures from a human resource department perspective to cooperate with any COVID-19 leave standards and continue to collaborate with individual employees.

“We feel confident in our established safety protocols whether they are required and/or recommended within Governor Whitmer’s Back to School Safe Learning Plan,” he said. “We know that these are unprecedented times and the situation concerning the health pandemic is fluid and presents challenges that we may not have yet experienced. Therefore, we will continue to reserve the right to make and communicate revisions to our plan as it relates to the safety of all individuals within our school community.”

Carman-Ainsworth kicked off its fall semester on Tuesday with online classes for grades K-12. The district plans to resume a fully remote learning platform for students throughout the month of September and will reevaluate the possibility of returning to in-person classes in October, pending future COVID-19 projections and guidance from the state and the Genesee County Health Department.