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Anne Arundel school worker unions offering back-to-school workshops on ensuring COVID safety

By creating a checklist with the COVID-19 protocol and uniting families and teachers into school-specific safety teams, the teacher’s union and the secretaries and assistant’s union for Anne Arundel County Public Schools hope to give people the tools to make sure schools are safe as in-person classes return.

Three virtual workshops are planned in the coming weeks, during which the Teacher’s Association of Anne Arundel County and the Secretaries and Assistants Association of Anne Arundel County hope to connect with parents and share information about making the school year as safe as possible.

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During the workshops the unions will review enforcement of existing protocols and discuss a checklist created to keep track of the multiple ways the system is reducing the spread of COVID-19.

The list asks employees yes or no questions about room cleaning, air flow, the number of people in a room and mask-wearing. If there is a problem, it also asks when the employee reported the problem to the school’s principal or the union’s building representative.

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The goal is to give everyone the tools to know what safety expectations are, and whether or not they are being followed, TAAAC President Russell Leone said.

Leone said they will discuss how individuals can create safety teams within their schools, people who work together to make sure COVID measures are being implemented and pull in administration to intervene if necessary.

He said during the first two weeks of school, teachers have reported shifting expectations for what they are required to post to the county’s new learning management system, Brightspace. Teachers were trained on the software this spring, but didn’t use it over the summer, so many are still learning how to use the system, Leone said.

The union would like the system to clarify what the expectations are at all schools. Brightspace is one of the ways administrators said students who are home quarantining will be able to keep up with class work.

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Teachers are also concerned about crowded classrooms, he said. In some classrooms, more than 30 students are seated, making it difficult to maintain the three feet of social distancing expected between individuals, based on the guidelines AACPS announced.

“That becomes something that weighs on people’s minds,” he said.

Leone said across-the-board, teachers he has spoken to are excited to be back in the classroom with students in-person.

The three workshops will be held Sept. 22, Sept. 29 and Oct. 4 at 5 p.m., online. Registration is required, check TAAAC’s social media for more information. Register for the Sept. 22 workshop here, the Sept. 29 workshop here and the Oct. 4 workshop here.

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