“I am scared”: Covid-weary teacher prepares will instead of lesson plans

“I am scared”: Covid-weary teacher prepares will instead of lesson plans
Stacey Bell, a teacher at Blair Elementary, is fiercely opposed to Plan A, an option that allows students in grades K-5 to return to school full-time for in-person learning

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - When many teachers Sunday were preparing their lesson plans for the week, Stacey Bell, a teacher at Blair Elementary school, says she was preparing different paperwork.

“On a Sunday, when I am usually preparing lessons plans, I have been preparing my will and last living testament,” Bell said in a Facebook post Sunday. “So I have spent the day working on my will not lesson plans, not recorded video lessons, not grading work. I have spent my day planning and organizing my death not my classroom. That’s how scared I am.”

Bell was dramatic in her concerns over COVID-19 and the chances of the virus spreading at school. She is fiercely opposed to students returning to school full-time for in-person instruction, also known as Plan A, an option Governor Roy Cooper announced last week for grades K-5.

New Hanover County Board of Education members are expected to discuss whether to go with Plan A Monday night.

“The numbers do not lie,” Bell said in her post. “We are not ready. Teachers have not been asked their opinion or advice.”

Bell went on to say “I am not prepared. We have not been giving (sic) any supplies to keep ourselves healthy or our students. I am confused. Why are we in such a rush to expose our children to a deadly incurable disease?”

Bell tagged Dr. Charles Foust, superintendent of New Hanover County Schools in her Facebook post. While he did not comment on her post, a statement was sent to the WECT newsroom in response to Mrs. Bell’s concerns.

In part it says:

New Hanover County Schools has been and will continue to follow health and safety protocols as outlined in the NC Strong Schools Public Health Toolkit and is making the health and safety of staff and students our top priority as we prepare for the transition to Plan B. Custodial staff are using CDC recommended disinfectants to clean surfaces and are making sure classrooms are sanitized on a frequent basis. In addition, the district is providing facemasks to staff and students. Signs and graphics are posted on the walls and the floors throughout our schools to help maintain social distancing.

Bell also expressed concerns that teachers have not been heard.

“Why have no teacher advocates or teacher alliances been allowed or invited to speak at the numerous school meetings to advise nhcs since we are the ones that will be on the frontlines? I am enraged. Why do I have to put my family in jeopardy because others are sick of having their family at home?”

New Hanover County Schools will host two town hall meetings that will allow teachers and community members to ask questions.

That was addressed in the statement released from NHCS. It says:

Next week, NHCS will be hosting virtual town hall meetings where community members and school staff will be able to have many of their questions answered. A panel of NHCS leaders, including Superintendent Foust and Instruction, Transportation, Child Nutrition, Facilities, Student Services, Technology, Communications, and Finance staff, will respond to questions about the 2020-2021 school year and Plans A, B, and C.

For now Bell is convinced the virus is too contagious and even deadly to take the chance.

“You may think teachers can’t give quality instruction via plan b or virtual learning but I promise you we can’t give quality instruction when we are dead either,” Bell said.

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