Testimony of Lynda Rubin to the BOE, July 23, 2020

My name is Lynda Rubin, retired school counselor and member of Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.

First, I want to say that I do not envy anyone on this Board having to make these decisions with so much at stake and so much unknown. This Opening Plan may look operable as a written report, but as with written reports, the execution often follows a totally different trajectory. Covid is not the flu, as so many other cities have discovered when they reached out too far, too fast. Therefore, I ask you to Vote NO on this Health and Safety Plan for Reopening Schools and delay In-school options.

This is one case where we can do more systemic harm if even some of the
“what ifs” occur. A completely separate “on-line option” for only some students will destroy a cohesive District-wide program and damage future reintegration. Deliberately separating some students from their home schools and their teachers will be more traumatic.

Delay opening schools for 2 or 3 months to provide extra preparation to make our buildings cleaner and safer AND to give yourself time to consider what else could go wrong and plan to mitigate it beforehand. We all remember the unsettling stress and learning disruptions caused by last year’s environmental problems. Remember last year when you learned how productive it was to include parents and teachers in the actual planning? Do that too.

Other cities have suffered having to shut down after reopening. This is one reason there’s a growing number of large school districts delaying the opening of their school buildings while reassessing their options.

Delay – to give schools without optimal air ventilation time to cool down, especially in 90° heat and humidity that strikes down our students and staff as it is. There’s going to be enough physical discomfort from wearing masks and with children trying to remember to follow the NON-normal behaviors of social distancing without adding the sweat-induced fatigue and nausea such hot boxes can cause.

I’m a counselor. You know me. I understand, and advocate, for a child’s need for socialization and normalcy. Schools provide our own special kinds of emotional growth. I also understand the confusion, fear and emotional trauma that could damage students’ trust that we have their backs. We don’t want a lot of “You said!” and “You promised!”

This school year’s going to be hard enough – on children and adults. Let’s do what we can to minimize the mistakes.

Delay Opening Schools.
Vote NO on the Health and Safety Opening Plan.