Wednesday, October 28, 2020

School Board Update

 Dear School Board Members:

I'm just back from dropping my wife off to teach school [....]. We loaned our second car to our daughter-in-law who is finishing her student teaching [elsewhere in Utah]. On the way to dropping off my wife, we stopped off at 6 a.m. when the store was open to pick up bags of ice for the Science projects today as my wife is the Science team lead. We did the same Monday when the sidewalks were so icey themselves. My wife will call when she's ready to come home. Usually it's about dinner-time, so she is putting in 12-hour days, sometimes more, and then there's the grading and prep time at home. I'm not trying to give another hard-working-teacher sob story, just context.

I am aware that many teachers are in favor of going to 4-days of students in school because it is easier to manage in a lot of ways. There still remains an increased risk of covid transmission when you double the number of students in school no matter how hard you try to implement distancing and mask-wearing. As you should know, cases are climbing in Utah and around the country. Last Summer, Governor Herbert said he wanted to see the case rate below 400 before schools opened. We barely made it and now we are well over a thousand a day. The hospitals are nearly full. 

It is regrettable that the pandemic response has become so political. I have a theory that everything will change next week on November 4. Indications are that the president will lose reelection and his political influence including the denial of the severity of the covid crisis will dissipate. Biden won't win Utah, but the Democratic vote will be the highest in many years. We shouldn't have to be talking politics about pandemics or school, but here we are. It is also regrettable that your new schedule goes into effect on Nov. 2, one day before the election.

I am retired from my profession and provide volunteer work to the dominant religious institution in our state. I serve part-time at the LDS Church History LIbrary in Salt Lake City. I haven't been in the library since March except for one brief visit to retrieve some of my own books I had left at my cubicle. Fortunately, almost all of my work can be done online. Yesterday, I received an email notice that went to all missionaries and employees of the Church. I am going to cut and paste it below. 

Now, I don't expect you to follow church employment practices and churches and schools are very different in how they operate (although both institutions are main pillars of a community), but you can see how seriously our dominant religion is taking this. And it is totally outside the realm of ugly politics. I'm not recommending that we go completely to on-line learning as we struggled through last Spring. But by doubling the numbers of students present at school, you increase the risk of virus transmission. It doesn't take much Science to come to that logical conclusion. While 4-days a week may be more convenient to students, parents, and even teachers, is it necessary when compared with the risk of increased transmission of a potentially deadly disease? I wish the science of this virus was better understood or that I were a trained statistician, but the increased risk is very likely to cause harm to somebody. I really hope it is not my wife. But it shouldn't be anybody. Not a teacher, not a parent or grandparent of a student, and not one of the very rare instances of death or serious complications in a young victim.

Thank you for your time. Again, I request no argument or explanation in response. I only want to convey my views for your consideration.
-Grant Vaughn
Centerville, Utah

[Dated 10/26/2020]
Return to Work Update
Dear Grant,

Thank you for your continued diligence and flexibility performing your work responsibilities during these unusual times. We know that these are difficult circumstances and want to keep you updated on the latest guidance related to COVID-19.

On October 13, 2020 the State of Utah transitioned from a color-coded risk system (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green) to a new COVID-19 Transmission Index. The new system defines three levels of transmission (High, Moderate, and Low) which determine what restrictions should be placed on each county.

Currently Salt Lake County and many other nearby counties are in the High level of transmission, meaning that employees and service missionaries should continue to work from home, with only essential personnel coming into the workplace at this time.

When will I be asked to return to the workplace?

If you are currently working from home, you should plan on continuing to work from home for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year. If you are currently coming into the workplace, you should continue to follow the directions of your department leadership.

In January 2021, the situation will be re-evaluated. If, at that time, Salt Lake County has transitioned to the Moderate or Low level of transmission, we will begin to return employees and service missionaries to the workplace in a careful and measured way.

If you have any questions about these guidelines, please speak with your Human Resource representative.

Thank you!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome. Feel free to disagree as many do. You can even be passionate (in moderation). Comments that contain offensive language, too many caps, conspiracy theories, gratuitous Mormon bashing, personal attacks on others who comment, or commercial solicitations- I send to spam. This is a troll-free zone. Charity always!