I am in the room all day and it is a lack of concern for the teachers and the students. We are packed in there and there is not enough room to social distance. Kids take their masks off twice a day to eat, they eat in the classroom, I don’t know if that’s safe or not and they want us to come back to work.
That’s Amy Lawrie, a first grade teacher at Lakewood’s Spruce Street School, who, according to today’s Asbury Park Press, publicly denounced the district, along with another teacher, Susan Mazzaroni, for withholding information that a student tested positive for Covid-19. Lakewood is the only district in Ocean County to have students in class full-time, five days a week.
Both teachers, when informed of the student’s positive test result, told Spruce Street’s principal that they were uncomfortable returning to class until they had tested negative for the coronavirus. They thought the whole class should be quarantined for the recommended two weeks before a return to in-class learning. But the principal, Aleida Salguero, said that the teachers were only in “casual contact” and denied the request.
So the two teachers contacted Superintendent Laura Winters. One told the Press that Winters “has pressured her to return to school and claimed she is not vulnerable to catching coronavirus because she was only in the infected student’s class for one-third of the day.”
“I am in the process of arguing with my superintendent,” Mazzaroni said. “She is telling me I have no business trying to stay home for two weeks that I could be back to work.”
Winters sent an email to Mazzaroni in response to her request to stay home until she gets a negative test:
A close contact by the CDC and DOH means that you sat with the child for 15 minutes or longer and were within 6 feet. You are considered a casual contact, as per the DOH.
Mazzaroni begs to differ: “I am in the room all day and it is a lack of concern for the teachers and the students. We are packed in there and there is not enough room to social distance. Kids take their masks off twice a day to eat, they eat in the classroom, I don’t know if that’s safe or not and they want us to come back to work.”
Lakewood Education Association President Kimberlee Shaw has previously alleged that the district is failing to keep schools clean and provide adequate protection for teachers and students. Teachers have complained about “deplorable conditions,” broken or missing plexi-glass partitions that separate students, and failure of administrators to monitor students’ temperature. As NJLB reported here, Lakewood children are riding school buses that are supposed to hold no more than 28 students but instead hold 41, rendering social-distancing impossible. Those buses are also used by 37,000 non-public school students traveling to 130 yeshivas and those children don’t wear masks or social-distance.
District attorney and spokeman Michael Inzelbuch says he didn’t have all the information but it appeared that Spruce Street School followed the rules. He suggested that staff had “violated…numerous Board policies and, possibly, the law.”
Hey, NJEA, are you listening?