Sierra Sands Unified School District superintendent Dave Ostash began the Thursday board meeting by discussing the potential phases that the district plans on utilizing once the two week waiting period ends on Oct. 27. 

Shortly after, Desert Area Teachers Association President Eileen Poole made her way to the podium to give the board a DATA update.

Poole began by describing some of the struggles that teachers are currently going through. One issue included decisions regarding testing and pacing guides that are not always made with the input of classroom teachers.

“When teachers are told to start the year with an end of year unit, at the beginning of a year that is already difficult emotionally and academically, we feel our professional expertise is ignored, and worse, we feel our students' needs are ignored and undervalued,” she said.

“We know what our kids are capable of, and we know when they need a break; we know because we are with them every day. Overstressing children serves no one.”

Poole said that there has not been a negotiation surrounding the details of returning, so there is still room for communication between SSUSD and DATA. She pointed to communications over the summer where the union felt negotiations were “fair” as an example.

Information from a survey that DATA sent to members this week indicates that “SSUSD teachers overwhelmingly indicated they want safety protocols in place before welcoming students back,” something that should be taken into consideration, Poole believes.

“[W]e are humans and I feel like often that’s sort of forgotten. It’s just expected that we will get in and do our jobs. A lot of us are really overwhelmed in ways we haven’t been before,” she said to board members. 

“I feel like too often the humanity of the teachers, those of us on the front lines, is ignored.”

A more detailed recap of the SSUSD board meeting will be available in a later edition of the Daily Independent. Updates will be available online.