IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Over the weekend Granite Staters spoke out against Chris Sununu’s school reopening guidance – which was dubbed a “swiss cheese” plan by Sununu’s own epidemiologist because of its multilayered holes that teachers and students could fall through. Chris Sununu continues to play politics with education and is putting the health and safety of Granite Staters at risk.
In Foster’s Daily Democrat: The Rochester School Board is preparing a letter to urge Chris Sununu not to use $1.5 million in federal coronavirus funds to support scholarships for private schools, and instead prioritize helping public schools that are struggling with reopening costs. The draft of the letter says, “Before funding private schools, Governor Sununu needs to provide our public schools with the necessary tools to open our schools in either an in-person or remote format.”
In the Concord Monitor: State Senator Jay Kahn and State Representative Mel Myler, chairs of the Senate and House Education Committees wrote an op-ed slamming Sununu’s “Swiss cheese” plan, saying, “The lack of transparent, clear guidance from the state leaves the decision to 177 school districts and 234 towns to all act independently and then for residents to feel confused by what applies where.”
In the Nashua Telegraph: Milford High School Senior Erin Jasper wrote a letter to the editor where she says Sununu’s guidelines “make light of how serious the virus is.” She urges Sununu to “mandate a law that requires masks to be worn in all New Hampshire schools. If masks are not required to be worn in NH schools, then COVID-19 will continue to spread.”
On WMUR’s CloseUp, Megan Tuttle, president of NEA-NH which represents more than 17,000 public school teachers in New Hampshire said, “When the guidelines came out from the governor and the education commissioner, we looked at them and they weren’t guidelines really. There were a lot of ‘shoulds’ and not a lot of ’shalls.’”
Read what Granite Staters have to say about Sununu’s “Swiss cheese” plan: Foster's Daily Democrat: Rochester School Board to Sununu: We need funds to reopen; don’t give aid to private schools ROCHESTER — The city’s School Board is preparing a letter that urges Gov. Chris Sununu not to use $1.5 million in federal coronavirus funds to support private school scholarships. The letter will call on the governor to instead use the money to support public school districts like Rochester that are projecting they’ll need to spend "thousands of dollars of local taxes to keep our students safe from COVID-19," according to draft language presented during a virtual board meeting Thursday. "Before funding private schools, Governor Sununu needs to provide our public schools with the necessary tools to open our schools in either an in-person or remote format," read the draft language presented by School Board Vice Chair Matt Pappas on Thursday. The letter is also expected to include language that alleges supporting private schools before fully supporting public schools’ needs is "wrong and serving a political purpose." [...] Pappas said the board should advocate that public schools receive the money as well as "significant increases to state public education funding" because the schools need assistance in purchasing protective equipment, supplies and other expenses the district will incur as it returns students to school over the course of the next month. [...] Concord Monitor: Confusion, unfunded costs as state’s schools prepare to reopen Recently, the House and Senate Education committees asked 24 education leaders, school board members, employee representatives, special educators, school nurses, and athletic association and transportation representatives about school reopening guidance. Nearly all presentations coalesced around two points. They said the guidance to date – under the banner of flexibility – leads to inconsistencies among districts and confusion for everyone and they said reopening of schools has unanticipated funding needs that when unmet will lead to greater inequities among districts. [...] Nearly all of the 24 presenters expressed concerns about unfunded costs of reopening schools during the pandemic: new furnishing/desks for social distancing, testing air quality and circulation in buildings, personal protective equipment for school nurses, substitute teachers for when regular teachers need to quarantine or for more student tutoring services, hallway signage, student drop-off lanes, additional transportation routes because of distancing on school buses, daily sanitizing and disinfectant supplies, more custodial staff for cleaning during school hours, more space in nurse offices and waiting areas for students showing symptoms, and remote learning technology. Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut was asked if there’s money in the state’s CARES Act allocation pipeline for schools. The commissioner half-heartedly quipped that the Legislature hadn’t appropriated additional funds but the truth is Gov. Sununu cut the Legislature out of that constitutional duty when he decided to be the sole arbiter of how the $1.25 billion in federal funds should be spent. Of that pot of money, Sununu has provided zero in additional funds for local school districts to date. We urge the governor to consider the needs of school districts, students, and local property-tax payers as schools reopen when he makes decisions about the limited CARES Act funds that remain unallocated. [...] During our joint meeting, we heard from a representative of school transportation companies his concern regarding the vague guidance for drivers, students boarding buses, and distancing and age groupings on buses. He also expressed concern for having enough drivers to cover additional routes because drivers were in short supply before the pandemic. And now with curtailed access to DMV livescans, job applicants screening for fingerprints is limited for FBI criminal history background checks. And if that’s the case, then schools confront the same screening problems for substitute teachers, custodians and food service staff, and volunteers. And finally, masking guidance came up in nearing all presentations. The lack of transparent, clear guidance from the state leaves the decision to 177 school districts and 234 towns to all act independently and then for residents to feel confused by what applies where. Imagine traveling to an athletic competition in a neighboring town. According to the National Governors Association, 30 states have adopted mask guidelines. Mask Up NH applies to ages 15 years and over. What science informed this program? CDC guidance is for anyone over age 2 to wear a mask in public. [...] Nashua Telegraph: Require Masks My name is Erin Jasper and I am now a senior at Milford High School. On July 14, 2020, the governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, hosted a press conference, where he released New Hampshire’s back to school COVID-19 guidelines. As a freshly out of quarantine high school student, I take issue with these “guidelines”. Sununu stated that students will not be required to wear masks in schools, however, they are encouraged. The governor recommended that inside the classroom(s), desks need to be placed 3-6 feet apart. These guidelines threaten the lives of all New Hampshire students. Masks have been proven to slow the spread of COVID-19. Allowing students to do without masks in school is a horrible idea because we have not seen our classmates since late March, and we have not been quarantining all together. The majority of us are going to be excited to see our classmates again, but how is administration going to enforce social distancing, especially in the hallways? Under these circumstances, wearing masks has proven to be the only option. Imagine how high the number of cases in NH will reach when we all interact together at once. Secondly, if desks are only 3 feet apart, students will have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 through coughing, spit droplets, sneezing, etc. The virus can be spread by people who do not even have symptoms, so not properly social distancing inside the classroom will continue to spread the virus. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, Chris Sununu needs to mandate a law that requires masks to be worn in all New Hampshire schools. If masks are not required to be worn in NH schools, then COVID-19 will continue to spread. These guidelines make light of how serious the virus is. Considering all of the deaths that COVID-19 has caused (and will continue to cause if masks are not required to be worn in schools), I would hope that Chris Sununu would care more about New Hampshire’s students and teachers. WMUR: Questions loom over N.H. back-to-school plans Megan Tuttle, president of NEA-NH which represents more than 17,000 public school teachers in New Hampshire: “When the guidelines came out from the governor and the education commissioner, we looked at them and they weren’t really guidelines really. There were a lot of ‘shoulds’ and not a lot of ’shalls.’” Watch the full interview here.