GCPS ISC_Gwinnett Schools file photo (copy)

Several Gwinnett County teachers are calling on the county’s school system to give them back a choice they previously had about how to return to work, starting this week.

Gwinnett County Public Schools planned a mid-week return to work for teachers and other district staff for training ahead of the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Teachers, however, said they were originally given a choice about whether they began the school year working from home or working from their respective schools.

Now, they said the district has made changes to the start of the school year plans that omit the work-from-home option, and educators who called the district’s leave office were told there was no work from home option.

“I understand that there’s no fully right answer, but to me, knowing that (on Wednesday), we’re expected to report back to the buildings, but be in our classrooms with the doors shut and on our computer for all trainings — that, to me, felt like there could be some flexibility in doing the same thing in the safety of my home,” elementary school teacher Ashley Newman said.

More than a dozen teachers emailed the Daily Post on Sunday and Monday about their concerns about their ability to work from home disappearing. Newman, who has been organizing her fellow teachers to contact district officials about those concerns, said about 76 teachers have copied her on emails to district officials where the text of an online petition she started is included.

At the center of the debate is one line from the district’s July 20 announcement that the district would switch to 100% digital learning. That announcement also included details about the district’s plans for beginning the school year.

The original version sent out to teachers and the media included the line, “Those who are allowed to work from home will be expected to come to the school periodically to work with other school staff and leaders.”

That sentence was missing from the copy of the announcement available on the county’s website.

“The impression that we all originally had was about the fact that there would be some accommodations made, that there would be some flexibility in the options we would have, still held to the high, high standards of Gwinnett County Public Schools, but in a position where we would have some choice,” Newman said.

Newman said she asked around to other teachers and found there are four groups that are impacted significantly by returning to work. They include: parents of children under 5; teachers with compromised immune systems; teachers who care for someone who is immunocompromised; and teachers who have children with special needs.

In Newman’s case, she has concerns about her young daughter.

District spokesman Bernard Watson said there are about six pieces of advice the school system’s human resources department is giving teachers who have concerns about returning to work in person.

“We are aware of the concerns of some of our teachers, and there are measures in place to address them,” Watson said. “If an educator has a concern, they should talk to their principal first and then to Human Resources.”

The advice human resources officials in the district are giving teachers includes:

♦ “If proximity to others is a concern, it may be that an alternative workspace could be secured. The teacher should talk to their principal. They may be allowed to work in an area of the school that is not being utilized (computer lab, gymnasium, theater, etc.).”

♦ “If a teacher’s doctor is advising that he/she quarantine, given health concerns and existing medical conditions, he/she may be eligible to receive up to 10 days of fully-paid leave, without having to use district sick leave.”

♦ “If the teacher is not being advised to quarantine, he/she can still take up to 10 days of leave without having to apply for a Leave of Absence. If the employee chooses to do this, he/she would just let his/her principal know of the dates of the absence, and enter the sick time through the emp♦ loyee portal.”

♦ “To stay out after 10 days, the employee would have to apply for a Leave of Absence. She/he would need to complete an FMLA request form, and have medical certification paperwork completed by a physician. The employee could receive up to 12 weeks of job protected leave. The leave would be paid for as long as the employee has accrued sick leave that could be applied.”

♦ “If the employee’s daycare center is closed due to COVID19, there are provisions for leave at two-thirds pay under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act.”

♦ “If the employee has school-aged kids, those children may go to school with their parents.”

Newman said that information addresses many of the issues teachers have, but she said it doesn’t quite address the underlying issue teachers have had about the change.

“Unfortunately, the biggest concern from those who have signed the petition with me is that we were told we would have the option to work from home and that option has now been extracted from the public documentation on the county’s website,” Newman said.

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

(24) comments

mikegwinnett

Teachers asked for protection and now all students are digital, now there are a select few asking for remote work. While I think I could empathize, how is it that you will be able to effectively conduct classes based on the synchronous/asynchronous schedules that are being proposed by the schools? The schools are making an effort to not have the same scenario as in the spring and have some accountability. I am interested in knowing how teachers who feel like they need to work from home expect to receive support from their schools if they are remote?

Lazyisnotasolution

There's no bandwagon! Teachers are literally protesting they will not go back to work and want to be paid to sit at home! Check out the New York Times! I did not go to school to teach my child if I did I would not say a word! People need to stop whining and BLAMING Covid! Our children are suffering because of of teachers are NOT taking their education seriously! When I witness my child's teachers literally not responding to emails and just giving out passing grades it infuriates me to know they are being paid and not teaching them the way they should be taught!

Questtofind

Laughable at best-Teachers are amazing and that they can accomplish what they do by the end of a school year with sometimes more than 30 students is nothing short of a miracle. There are always going to be people who complain, and no amount of hard work is satisfying enough-they will ALWAYS have a problem.

Allisonhudson

Thank you! I completely agree...

Questtofind

Unbelievable how many of you are now jumping on the "blame the teachers" bandwagon! Teachers are not solely responsible for your child's education, that is YOUR job as a PARENT! Why do you really care where the teacher is when he/she conduct their teaching? Would you even know the difference? NO. The truth is that there are a lot of frustrated people out there playing the name-calling blame game for this pandemic. Open your eyes and get involved in your child's education. As parents, we are responsible to see those children into adulthood. Be a good example!

Lazyisnotasolution

I think you need to wake up! I witnessed the pathetic behavior teachers provided last year by not responding to MY EMAILS! Teachers are protesting strikes to sit at home and get paid if they are told to work in schools! I did not go to school to teach my child at home, furthermore I also do not think that giving passing grades when they dont understand the school work is called honest teaching! Teachers are as much to blame as the school board allowing it!!!

Questtofind

Well these are not normal circumstances, and everyone is responding in the best way they know how. Again-STOP THE BLAME GAME and grow your kids to be tough adults! THAT is YOUR job!

mikegwinnett

No one is questioning the abilities of teachers. Here are some facts below. Teachers might want to consider these numbers, as to why parents are looking for accountability from teachers.

Gwinnett County $1.84 B

Gwinnett County Schools $2.31B

Fulton County $1.2B

Fulton County Schools $1.06B

Cobb County Schools $1 B

Lazyisnotasolution

Students are unhappy with the fact that they cant go to school! Mine are very upset that they are to cooped up in the house for alot longer! They rather be able to see their friends, enjoy their first day of school! Instead they are going to be required to sit in front of a computer ! I'm sure alot of parents agree ! I'm a excellent parent and feel you should not place judgement because people disagree the way the teachers and school boards are handling a pandemic that has been blown out of proportion!

Lazyisnotasolution

Teachers are being paid to teach my child, that is their JOB! The way things are taught is not the same as when we went to school, so do NOT tell me how to parent! You need to understand some children look to school as a safe place when home is not!

getoverit

It's not about "babysitting" your children so that you can go to work, it is about education. What they are getting on-line is pathetic. Our children already are dumber that children ever were. They move through the grades with little to no knowledge of the real world. Can't read "cursive" can't "count change", can't read a stinking "clock". Someone needs to take back the approach of a great basic education to send these kids off into this sad world.

Grandma 51

I think the teachers need to go back to work in the classroom. I am a little disappointed that the kids will not be able to return to the classroom but safety is extremely important for all. The teachers don't want to go back and want to work from home, I don't think that's a good idea because they worked from home the first time and all we got was work uploaded in the system to be completed and little or no interaction from the teachers. It was a complete nightmare for me as a full time working parent. In my opinion the teachers will actually work harder in the classroom setting, they can bring their children to work with them and no exposure to groups of people. What more could you ask for. I did what I needed to do as a parent and now it's time for the teachers to get back to work.

John tuttle

and why do they get raises every year even when their students are unhappy and not learning? Too many sick days and personal days.

Questtofind

Raises every year? And your source would be????

Questtofind

Students are unhappy? and you would know how?

Globeheater

Jesus himself could not make some people happy... just quit whining and go to work.

crobin7028

Maybe they should change the headline to read “Some teachers want to work from home”

Jackid1209

I mean seriously?? They are now complaining about having to go to work? Teachers are the reasons why my children are not able to go back to school. I am a nurse- my kids can not go to work with me. So what do I do? Cry and whine about it ? Quit my job stay home and end up on the streets? Or go to work and hope for the best? If you can not be “safe” in a room with a door closed by yourself, then your home isn’t going to help you any either. Stop it now and get to work and grow up.

Lazyisnotasolution

Again School teachers want their cake and eat it too! Suck it up! Kids cant go to school because so many teachers cried about them returning and catching covid yet most have been on vacations, pool sides and amusement parks this summer, I'm sure they did not stay quarantined to their houses! Staying home and working should not be allowed! With teachers being in their classrooms maybe then we can get responses to emails in a timely manner! Last year was a joke the way it was handled!

John tuttle

Teachers' lounges are closed.

Questtofind

BTW-there is no such thing, kidding or not.

getoverit

you hit it right on the head

John tuttle

What teacher will want to work from the gymnasium? They're not air conditioned and they'd be working their tail off while the PE teacher sits in his office next to the locker room working on his Teacher of the Year application?

Fsfwa93

See that is garbage. Parents got their option taken away to send their kids to school so the teachers need tobsuck it up and do their job. At least they can take this kid to school with them. Howbisba cop and nurse suppoosed to eecuate their kids in Gwinnett, we cant take our kids to work. We have to keep them home and pray to God they are actually doing their work,

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