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  • Fellow Editors

Independent Survey Conducted on the Opening of Wicomico County Public Schools

On March 19, 2021 the Delmarva Parent Teacher Coalition conducted an independent survey to gather statistics on the opening of Wicomico County Public Schools to determine if students are returning in a considerate, fair, ethical, and equal manner. Some other questions were also included, which address school climate and morale as it relates to family engagement and trust throughout the school system. The results are in, and here is a summary. We were hoping for at least a thousand responses, but came short with 967 completed surveys in our random sample of parents throughout WCPS across all K-12 schools. Although we can see the results in hundreds of different views and scenarios, we will present the results in simplicity, and report a further in-depth analysis at a later date. Here are the results in percent of those who answered each question.

Please select your role:

Parent/Guardian 94.21% Teacher/Faculty 1.65% Both Parent & Teacher/Faculty 2.48% Other 1.65%

Which learning environment do you prefer?

Open School Full-Time 5-Days Per Week 55.07% Hybrid 4-Days Per Week 17.83% Hybrid 2-Days Per Week 6.44% Stay Home - Virtual Learning 20.66%

Have you requested 4-day attendance? YES 51.24% NO 48.76%

Did you receive an invitation for 4 days attendance? YES 40.50% NO 59.50%

Was your request for 4 days accepted, denied, or waitlisted? Accepted 22.31% Denied 20.66% Waitlisted 5.79% Did Not Ask 51.24%

What was the average grade of your child in Semester 1? A - Average 44.63% B - Average 28.10% C - Average 14.05% D - Average 9.92% E - Average 3.31%

Does your child have special educational needs? Individualized Education Program (IEP) 13.22% 504 Plan 5.79% Both IEP & 504 3.31% None 76.86%

Is your child an English Language Learner (ELL/ESL)? YES 4.18% NO 95.82%

Do you have Internet access at home? YES 88.43% NO 11.57%

Race American Indian or Alaska Native 1.65% Asian 0.00% Black or African American 13.70% Hispanic or Latino 4.96% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 0.00% White 64.81% Biracial 14.88%

Has your child had excessive absences? YES 14.88% NO 85.12%

Have you ever expressed any concerns with the school system? YES 52.89% NO 47.11%

Do you avoid speaking out to the school in fear of retaliation/retribution? YES 26.45% NO 73.55%

Have you ever been a victim of retaliation/retribution by the school system? YES 11.57% NO 88.43%

Of those who took the survey, we can conclude that 79.34% of parents are comfortable with having their children physically attend school for in-person learning at this time. The majority prefer the schools to open 5-days per week for in-person learning. Soon after we launched this survey along with the new CDC guidelines of 3-ft distancing, the Superintendent of Wicomico County Public Schools announced on the evening of Monday, March 22, 2021 that the school was opening to a 4-day hybrid model starting on Monday, March 29, 2021. This was a past-due, yet positive move in the right direction. With some basic analysis of those who completed the survey, we do see bias and preference among those who were allowed to return up until this point. We will analyze this in-depth, if we see the need to do so.

Some questions that we asked toward the end of the survey are really important as it relates to school climate, morale, and family engagement. This has been going on for many years and totally unrelated to the pandemic. Since we were conducting the survey, it was an opportune time to ask. The results were shocking, as the numbers were much greater than we would have ever predicted. 11.57% have faced retribution/retaliation by the school system and 26.45% won't express their concerns in fear of possible retribution or retaliation. This is troubling, and must be addressed.

Harassment and Sexual Harassment Policy has a disclaimer: "The Wicomico County Board of Education accepts no liability for harassment." But there's a caveat - none of these policies or procedures are written to protect the citizen from the school, but to protect the school from the citizen. Student conduct is addressed, but conduct of faculty, administration, or the board is not. Their own policies and procedures fail to acknowledge that the school system is also capable of bullying, harassment, and intimidation. The fact that this one-way assumption exists and is not addressed is obvious. This systematic exemption is by design, and an overreach in power and control. Does WCBOE/WCPS think that they have a free pass to do what they wish and to whom? The question is, how can we teach our students to be upstanding members of society, when those who are responsible for teaching such principles and values are hypocritically violating them themselves? Do they actually think that the students are not smart enough to figure this out, which results in rebellion and disorder? The school also has a Family Engagement Policy INS-SCH-PL-027, which addresses the importance of family involvement in education. Without trust and successful family engagement/involvement between the school and parents, we won't have a successful school or produce functional members in society when students graduate. This is unacceptable, and a call for immediate action by our elected board.

With all things considered along with the new CDC guidelines of 3-ft distancing, the solution is to open 5-days per week and also offer a virtual option for those who wish to remain home until the end of the school year. This would also mean that the Wednesday Asynchronous day would be eliminated. With the amount of learning loss that has impacted these students, we must give up Asynchronous Wednesdays even though surrendering this day to teaching will bother some that see Wednesday as a day off or to do less. We need to utilize all calendar school days to the max if we are to recover.

The Superintendent has also announced that they are working on after school programs and summer school to address learning loss. This is unrealistic, as children cannot be expected to attend summer school or afterschool programs as a consequence of the school system's lack of planning and failure to follow their own recovery plan. Children see this as a form of punishment and torture, when they have already endured enough. When children do not participate in this illusion of school system "due diligence," the school system's artificial display will not provide valid excuses for them to cast blame on students for not participating in their bogus supplemental and summer school programs when students continue to perform poorly. The learning loss is evident, and will remain evident until viable testing and catch-up measures are implemented during normal school days. In addition, we must scratch semesters and return to a regular school year in 2021-2022 and without laptop dependency in the classroom. Failure to acknowledge the truth will spell further learning loss and continued disaster. The longer they push the broken down bus down the road, the worse learning loss will be. Please contact the board members below and let them know what is expected of them moving forward so that the school system doesn't continue to make the same forewarned mistakes.

WCBOE Board Members

Gene Malone -

Donald Fitzgerald -

Allen Brown -

John Palmer -

Tonya Lewis -

Michael Murray -

Ann Suthowski -

Fellows & Editors

March 25, 2021 Copyright

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