Teachers make one last push

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GOLDSBORO - “Support Our Kids and Plan C.”

“I Support Our Teachers.”

“Protect Our Exceptional Children.”

“We Need More Time.”

“21 Schools Are Not Ready.”

Those were some of the messages written on car windows as supporters of the “One Last Chance” caravan gathered in the Sears parking lot at Berkeley Mall on Thursday afternoon.

They lined up, honked their horns and paraded single file down Spence Avenue toward the Wayne County Public Schools Central Office on Royall Avenue.

“We’re out here strong,” said Mark Colebrook, a teacher and coach at Brogden Middle School.

“Look at us, look at us. Don’t we look good?”

A couple of minutes later, they turned down Berkeley Boulevard toward ONE Church for a social-distanced rally. Supporters remained in their cars, clapped and honked their horns in approval as teachers pleaded for the Wayne County Board of Education to pay attention to the students’ safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bishop William J. Barber II and Sylvia Barnes, president of the Goldsboro-Wayne Branch of the NAACP, also spoke in support of the community’s stance.

“We need to have people on the board who are going to stand and do what is right for us,” said Angela Davis, a teacher at Meadow Lane Elementary. “We need time. Something needs to be done today, last week, last month.”

Colebrook echoed Davis.

“It’s time that the school board, like Mr. [Len] Henderson and Ms. [Patricia] Burden, do the right things for our kids,” Colebrook said.

Every speaker who followed Davis and Colebrook pleaded for the Wayne County Board of Education to “listen to our teachers” and that “time is critical to ensure smooth production and efficiency” for the youth of Wayne County.

Teachers said they understand students need the “connection” of in-person instruction and the chance to exist in a social setting.

However, they voiced concerns about sanitation, testing protocols, bussing, student drop-off on campuses, insufficient number of substitute teachers and the need for additional nurses to handle those who show symptoms of the virus.

In its meeting last week, the BOE voted to move forward with Plan “B” - a hybrid of in-person and remote instruction.

As they have done throughout the process, Henderson and Burden remained outspoken about the current state of affairs involving the county schools. Henderson cited a possible spike in COVID-19 cases after the Labor Day weekend, while Burden contended that instructors needed more time to adjust to the virtual teaching platform.

Each made their own motion for the Board to remain in Plan “C” (virtual learning) for the first nine-week grading period.

Their requests fell on deaf ears.

Tamara Berman-Ishee, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Wayne County Public Schools, informed the Board that 21 of 26 principals contacted said they were not ready to open the doors for in-person instruction.

Goldsboro High opened today.

The remainder of the county’s schools open Sept. 8.

Earlier this week, the Wayne County Association of Educators (WCAE), supporters and parents pleaded with the Board of Education to call an emergency meeting Friday to rescind their decision to move forward with Plan “B.”

“Teachers and principals have spoken out,” said Joe Beamon, WCAE Vice President. “We just aren’t ready, not from a safety perspective and not from a pedagogical perspective, either. Employees district-wide are frustrated and don’t feel heard.

“We want the Board to hear clearly. We’re giving them one more chance to get it right.”

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