HCEA Statement on Phase Decision

This message was sent to the press by our President, Jeanette Omarkhail.

“While the HCEA believes that the Hamilton County School System has worked diligently to provide the best opening possible given the realities of a pandemic, we believe that our schools and our students would best be served by continuing with a staggered schedule that limits the number of students in the schools on any given day.   The Hamilton County Education Association has received input from teachers throughout the county who believe that moving to Phase 3, where social distancing is simply not possible, is not the safest plan for Hamilton County Schools at this point.  Even with some students attending “HCS at Home”, the current physical space in most of our classrooms will not allow for even 3 feet of space much less the CDC recommendation of 6 feet of space between desks for an entire class. Since opening on August 12, the system has faced almost daily school closures due to positive cases of Covid 19.  The Hamilton County Health Department has reported that cases in ages 11-20 have increased by 50% and is advising residents not to gather in large groups.   We believe moving to Phase 3 will risk more schools being closed and may, eventually, lead to Phase 1, which would close all of our schools and require at home instruction for all students.  While wearing masks and enhanced cleaning protocols included in Phase 3, limit the risk for our students and our faculties, these limited measures will not protect from all airborne particles and offer only some protection.  Because the numbers of ongoing and new cases of Covid 19 are still too high, the HCEA feels that it is safer for our school system to continue in Phase 2.”

Our press release reached the media. Monique Brand, Chattanooga Times Free Press education writer, shared this information via an article titled “Teachers union balks at 5-day school schedule for Hamilton County, says it’s too soon.” Disclaimer: We’re not actually a union, but an association. See the Collaborative Conferencing page for more information.