I can tell you with absolute certainty that a teacher traveled to Italy and was told to stay home beginning on Thursday, March 5th.
As a substitute teacher at the Merrimack High School, I was called last night and asked to cover a class until March 18th. Shortly after my arrival in class, I was told by the Department Head/Head Teacher this teacher was out of school because of their recent trip to Italy.
Seriously, I am not making this up!
This was after I put my coat on the back of their chair and my “stuff” on their desk.
At the end of the school day, I spoke with Assistant Principal Peter Bergeron. I told him I knew the reason why the teacher was absent. Our conversation quickly moved from the open office area to his office. I suggested to him that I might “stir the pot.” I was concerned. I felt I should have been told the reason for the coverage and given a choice when they called me to take the assignment.
It should be made clear that the teacher attended their classes on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week. The teacher was ordered home after Commissioner of Education, Frank Edelblut issued a recommendation to send travelers from Italy and other countries home for the CDC recommended period of two weeks. Mr. Bergeron told me that this recommendation was discussed at a district staff meeting. This resulted in the decision to send the teacher home.
One has to ask: “Why did this teacher come to school after returning from Italy?” “Didn’t they follow the news?” “What were they thinking?”
Mr. Bergeron told me that there is a “Petrie dish” of connections between one of his sports teams and people in Rhode Island.
What concerned me, is the overt lack of consideration or concern regarding the health impact on the students and staff that move in and out of the teacher’s classroom. Today, there were numerous adults who entered the room including three teachers, a custodian, a maintenance person, an IT staff person, at least one other adult, plus myself.
In addition to these seven adults, there were an estimated 36 students in and out of the classroom today.
What if one or more of the students is auto-immune compromised?
What seems to be lost on the Merrimack High School administration is that this teacher conducted their classes for three days before they were told to stay home. Why is that and why this level of repeated exposure to the students.
Unknown at this time is if the teacher showed symptoms or tested positive and if that is the reason they were sent home.
On my way home I followed the advice on the CDC website and contacted my primary physician. I was told that the people who were most at risk were those that had direct contact with someone who traveled in one of the “hot spots” AND tested positive for the Corona Virus.
Persons (like me) not having direct exposure were at low risk compared to people – including the students – that had direct contact. These are the people with the highest risk. It should also be noted that young people have less of risk in general for the Corona Virus. It’s the people over 60, especially those with respiratory issues that have the highest risk.
Fortunately, my risk relates to age, not a medical condition.
Based on the information I received concerning my risk, I was planning to complete the remainder of my 10-day assignment.
That didn’t last too long.
Shortly after returning home I received a call from the Merrimack School District. I was told my services were no longer needed.
I was fired from a position I held for four years. This was one day after I was asked to cover a 10-day assignment, which followed a six-week assignment that ended before last week’s school vacation.
Merrimack High School students and staff need to be informed about the health status of its teachers, students, and staff; especially when a communicable disease is involved. All school community members should be given the information and given the opportunity to make an informed choice.
The lesson is clear at the Merrimack High School: question the need for transparency and you will be fired!