by Brandon Summers | January 30, 2021
Here we are in 2021… or should I say 2020 Part 2: The UK Variant Strikes Back. The COVID-19 health and economic shitshow continues as U.S. cases approach 26 million and the death toll surpasses 430,000. In Clark County, Nevada, the test positivity rate currently stands at 19%.
Thankfully, I am employed in a high-functioning, high-ranking school district, with fantastic leadership from a revered superintendent, a school board that knows how to keep meetings short and sweet (and does not have a racist, MAGA-loving trustee in its ranks); and I’m backed by a teacher’s union that prides itself on listening to its members.
Well, most of that was sarcasm.
I am employed (yay!) but I am expendable. I work as a vacancy sub who makes just enough to keep a roof over my head, put gas in the car, and buy groceries. Unlike licensed teachers and support staff, I have no representation. I have no health insurance. I have no sick leave or paid time off. I have no retirement. And to boot, I’m probably last in line in the “vaccine Hunger Games”.
Fortunate for me, I work at a middle school and it is unlikely that I will have to return to in-person instruction this 2020-2021 school year.
After the Clark County School Board agreed to move forward with small-group instruction weeks ago, CCSD suddenly decided to jump to a full-scale reopening for pre-k through 3d grade. The return date is set for Monday, March 1, 2021. I got the announcement via email on January 27 at 5:09pm.
Meanwhile, Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara has been on a media blitz (New York Times, CNN, NBC) misrepresenting student suicide rates as a “surge”, justifying the urgency of a large-scale reopening. Though the claim was debunked in November 2020, Dr. Jara does not seem to care. Online, CCSD teachers have expressed frustration that issues of student mental health, youth suicide, and inadequate staffing levels of school counselors have been ignored for years. Conveniently, the district has changed its tune.
“I couldn’t sleep with my phone nearby anymore,” Dr. Jara said. It was like a 24-hour reminder that we need to get our schools open.” – Dr. Jesus Jara, NYT Jan. 24, 2021
I hate when people owe me money, I hate when people lie to my face, and I hate when critical emails are sent after work hours. Clark County School District is guilty of all of these transgressions. Yes, I want life to go back to “normal” like everyone else, but we’re simply not there yet. Teachers and students will get sick when schools reopen, and some teachers will probably die. The decision makers will be insulated in their offices and schools will have to manage the collateral damage. ∎
Brandon Summers is a violinist, middle school substitute teacher, community activist, and Las Vegas native. He is a graduate of Fort Valley State University where he majored in mathematics and holds BA in liberal studies.
@BrandonSummers_ on Twitter.