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Gov. Carney answers questions from the public about schools reopening

Delaware Public Media

Representatives from across the educational system convened Thursday night to answer questions about schools reopening.


The Delaware PTA hosted over 200 members of the public to hear from Gov. John Carney and others about what schools may look like this coming fall.


Carney and state officials recommend a hybrid model - leaving many parents and teachers with questions about the various challenges associated with that model.


Carney responded to some by pointing out how difficult tackling the issue is.


“And reopening the schools, because of all of the concerns of teachers and staff and parents and all of us, is more difficult than any of the others things. It’s very emotional for all of us, it’s critical because these are our children that we love and cherish so much.”


Carney advocated for a hybrid model to reopening schools, where students alternate between meeting in person and doing assignments online.  But his administration is leaving the decision to individual districts and charters.


Christina School District superintendent Dan Shelton says one big challenge will be dealing with sick teachers -- and finding substitutes.


“I’ll call it a majority are retired teachers or those that have retired from other jobs and therefore fall in high risk and this is a part time, this is an extra job for them for the most part. They’re probably not gonna be very interested in coming into schools if we have not dealt with the health concerns.”


Other issues raised were how schools will enforce mask policies and addressing teachers’ mental health.


Red Clay School District just announced it will use a completely remote learning plan for the first six weeks of the school year, saying numerous safety concerns outweigh the benefits of in-person learning.


Among these concerns are ensuring students stay socially distanced, wear masks, and classroom spaces get cleaned regularly. 


Carney notes schools will consult with public health officials and the Department of Education to ensure proper protocols are in place to keep students and teachers safe while still getting the benefit of meeting in person.


This article has been updated to reflect the Town Hall was on Thursday night, not Tuesday.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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