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0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02e0000KPCW's COVID-19 news coverage for Summit County and Wasatch County, Utah. 0000017b-652b-d50a-a3ff-f7efb02f0000You can also visit the Utah Department of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization websites for additional information.

Teacher's Union Urges Park City School Board To Close Schools One Day A Week


The American Federation of Teachers Utah Chapter Labor Union wants the Park City School District Board of Education to designate one day during the school week to on-line learning only. The school board is holding a special meeting Tuesday to consider an early release one day a week but does not plan to close to in school learning for a full day at this time.

The AFT (American Federation of Teachers) President Brad Assay says recently he’s received requests from Park City teachers asking for help representing their interests to the Park City Board of Education. He sent a letter to the board strongly encouraging President Andrew Caplan to ease the burden on teachers by implementing one day a week when all students would work from home. He says faculty could work directly with online students to prepare for lessons and that classified staff could use the day for professional development, safety training and deep cleaning.

“Quite a few are joining. I don’t have the numbers right now because I’ve been on vacation but it's just been recently where I had them reach out, teachers reach out. Some of them haven’t joined yet but they've reached out to AFT for help and assistance when it comes to urging the Board of Education of looking at a day where it’s online teaching. As more members come on board, we will be organizing a local union.”

Assay says other districts are allowing a prep day for teachers to manage the increased workload due to on-line learners and the many quarantined students who are taking classes remotely. He says it also works well for classified employees which are custodians, bus drivers, secretaries to deep clean while students are out of the building. He says it’s not uncommon for teachers to spend many hours a day, after their workday ends, working with online students.

“We tend to forget that you can load up a teacher a lot with these different modalities it's not when you're teaching in the classroom all day and normal face to face but then you're starting to add other things such as adapting lessons to online being able to reach out to online answer their questions by email or face to face chat with them a lot of that is done after hours.”

Park City Board of Education President Andrew Caplan says he responded to the letter from the AFT stating the school board has the interest of the teachers in mind. They do not plan to shorten the school week but would consider some kind of hybrid if COVID-19 case counts were to rise.

“A full day off isn’t an option at this time. If the case counts go higher and or the County moves to an orange level with regards to COVID, we would be looking at a hybrid model. We have that planned and we would be looking for at least one or two days where kids would not be present in school. But, at this point, where case counts are and how well the district has been doing in terms of contact tracing etc., that's not in the cards.”

Caplan says they’re balancing kids staying in school and supporting teachers during COVID. KPCW contacted the Park City Educators Association for comment on the issues raised by the AFT, but did not receive a response.

“The gist of the letter was they want us to prioritize teachers. I think that's something that the board the administration has clearly made a priority throughout this year starting with giving the largest increase in the history of the district, in terms of wages, to all of our employees. You know again on Tuesday we're having a special meeting to provide some time relief, to our educators, and will continue to do what we need to work with our educators and make sure that they feel supported and continue teaching our kids.”

According to Superintendent Jill Gildea, Park City School District case counts, as of October 5, are 12, all coming from Treasure Mountain Junior High and the High School.

The board meets in special session on Tuesday to consider a recent survey addressing changing the bell schedule to allow for early release one day a week. The intent is to provide planning time for teachers to work with their online students. 

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.
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