Some Osseo Area School District teachers call on district to start school year virtually

Teachers from the Osseo Area School District rallied outside the district office, calling for a fully distance learning start to the school year. (FOX 9)

On Thursday, a few dozen teachers held a demonstration outside of the Osseo Area School District office calling on leaders to change the plans for the start of the school year from hybrid learning to fully online, distance learning. 

“We’re out here letting the community know that we are concerned about our students, we’re concerned about teachers and we’re concerned about the safety of everybody,” Park Center High School math teacher Ternesha Burroughs said. 

Burroughs says teachers haven’t been involved enough in the planning of the hybrid school year system. She says she doesn’t feel like she and other teachers are prepared for all of the unknowns going into the school year, especially with the start of school less than a month away. 

“I don’t think they have it planned out. Do I think they could do it? Yes. They need more time, which is probably why they should open up in distance learning for the whole district and then slowly ease into the hybrid models for our higher needs population students,” Burroughs said. 

Northview Middle School Special Education teacher, Landi Tessman, says she doesn’t believe the district has enough information about how the virus might spread among their 21,000 students and 1,100 staff. 

“It’s not data driven. There’s no evidence to suggest it’s a smart choice and so we’re worried for our students, we’re worried for ourselves and our students and we’re worried for our colleagues,” Tessman said. 

She says with so much still shut down, or limited, and with cases still on the rise it doesn’t make sense to get back into the classroom. 

“If we still have adults that are meeting via Zoom, if we have restaurants that are half capacity why is the expectation that it is safe and acceptable to send our students back into the classroom?” Tessman said. 

In a statement, the Osseo Area School District Superintendent Cory McIntyre says:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everything we thought was “normal” about starting a new school year, and we recognize the stress that our staff and families are experiencing. Based on the state’s Safe Learning Plan, on July 31 I recommended starting the school year in the hybrid model. Since then, my team has been in regular contact with county and state officials to monitor virus activity in the county and in our communities. We know we will need to be nimble and prepared to pivot among the three safe learning scenarios throughout the year, based on virus activity and state guidance. While there are varying opinions about the “right” way to start, I am confident that our employees are sharing their perspectives out of their love for the students they serve.”