Longtime Park City Teacher Resigns, Stating Concerns Over District's COVID-19 Response
A veteran high school teacher has resigned from the Park City School District citing personal concern for the health and safety of his family caused by the return to in-person classes.
Kevin Fober taught social studies and AP history for 35 years. He says his decision to resign hinged on two issues: he’s in the age category that puts him more at risk of complications due to COVID-19 and he was involved in the Dream Big Summer School Program where he only had eight students and was able to space desks at least six feet apart.
In contrast, with as many as 30 kids in his classroom last week, he says he can’t maintain that safe distance.
“With the anxiety of the times the classroom environment would be severely restricted. I would be unable to do a lot of the things that I've done in the past to inspire and help with the educational process—the in-class experience,” Fober said. “That was going to be very difficult for me to do with all the mitigation protocols in place, the masks and whatnot. They had also mentioned the mandate that we provide equitable, which I agree with, equitable access to the same education for those that chose remote with those that are in class so I would have to be very careful about what I did in class and then when I offered to those that chose remote.”
Fober says if he had to go into self-quarantine, it would impact his wife’s business and her employees as well
“So, I want to first point out that this was a personal decision,” he said. “This was not made to make any kind of statement or any kind of a job action. It was simply weighing my options and my family’s options and ultimately making a very tough decision to resign.”
Fober wasn’t ready to retire and he’s emotional about leaving the teaching profession.
“I still got a good fight in me,” he said. “I'm very nervous about this because I know there’ll be backlash. I will also say that Principal Arbabi and his leadership team have done everything humanly possible to provide for the teachers, whether it’s PPE or protocols, mitigation protocol and so forth but the one thing they could not provide was distancing.”
He disagrees with the district’s opening strategy and says he would have stayed on if a more thoughtful program was in place. There are many school districts reducing class sizes by offering a hybrid teaching model, but he says Park City is moving forward with its plan to have students in class five days a week.
“I’ve seen, around the country, many school districts adopt plans that reduce the numbers in the classroom,” Fober said. “I want to be in the classroom as much as anybody. You can ask my former students; it’s passion. But I think there are some really interesting and perhaps more thoughtful plans out there that reduce numbers in the class, that brought in students gradually. They start with the most at risk kids, the ones who have issues with learning disabilities or problems at home or what have you.”
KPCW reached out to Superintendent Jill Gildea and Park City School Board president Andrew Caplan for further comment about additional COVID-related resignations and the concerns about a lack of social distancing in classrooms.
Gildea responded that “rumors are rampant, and not so helpful.”
The district, she says, is developing a chart to respond to rumors accurately. She notes the organizer of Safe Utah Schools acknowledged the PCSD return plan is “one of the few based in data and science to support the safety of staff and students.”
Gildea adds she is proud of the district and staff’s efforts to launch the school year during a time of a global health and economic crisis.