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School Board: Motion to allow teachers to do distance learning from home or school fails

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    A request to add the subject as an agenda item and motion by Crookston School Board member Dave Davidson to allow teachers the freedom to choose between providing distance learning from either the school or from their homes failed after lack of a second at Monday night’s meeting. As many as eight district teachers, most from Highland Elementary, were present and left after Davidson’s motion was dropped.

    At the end of the meeting during the final comments portion, Davidson mentioned how disappointed he was that the board did not get to discuss how teachers would deliver distance learning and, after the many calls and letters he received, as well as other board members, he thought that educators were “strong” and “articulate” in their request to have the choice to work from home.

    “We talk about how instrumental our staff have been and they’re not being treated like adults,” stated Davidson.

    The Times reached out to Davidson after the meeting for more information about his request and motion, and he said all he wanted was a second on his motion so the matter could be discussed.

    “My motion was intended to allow professional staff to decide on their own to see if teaching from home or in the school was best,” he explained. “They should have the choice to do it.”

    “The current ruling has been that teachers can work from home if they had something from a doctor that says they, or a member of their family, have been sick or ill, or are subject to COVID or are part of a vulnerable population which would allow them to be home,” Davidson added. “The emails we got, around 11 or 12, were in favor of teachers having the choice and one person that was not.”

    Davidson also pointed out that if they have out-of-town educators, like someone coming from Grand Forks to teach, they drive to Crookston to sit in an empty classroom.

    “This is a professional staff and we have to trust them to make a professional decision,” he continued. “What is the best way to teach the students; I would be comfortable with them (teachers) making that choice. Let’s treat them like the professionals they are.”

    Davidson added that he did give Superintendent Jeremy Olson and acting board chair Tim Dufault a “heads up” that he would be making the motion as he didn’t want to surprise anyone.

    “I’ve been on the school board just about eight full years now, in January, and I’ve never had this much mail generated on anything,” said Davidson about COVID and distance learning. “Had the motion passed and we had discussion, teachers could have mixed it up and taught from home or taught from the school.”