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Heather Robbins' letter to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth Board of Education

Heather Robbins' letter to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth Board of Education

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Board Members,

I am a PreK teacher at Caleb’s Creek Elementary and I was diagnosed with COVID this past Friday 10/23 after having symptoms I believed related to allergies. When on Thursday my assistant teacher shared that she had a terrible headache and on Friday had a fever (as I did by that time) we were both tested and received positive results. No screening questionnaire prevented our entering the building as the headache and stuffy nose was thought to be allergy. No temp check blocked us from entering as the thermometers we have installed always register my temp between 92-97 degrees .... and that’s after several attempts at accurate readings.

Since informing our principal, neither of us have been contacted by HR (they were notified Friday and can certainly make calls on weekends as teachers do) no contact tracing has been completed, no disinfection of the common areas we use with other teachers has been done and no teacher in the building has been notified of anyone having tested positive. This is UNACCEPTABLE!!

Instead, we shared the information ourselves with our team members so they were aware.

While I appreciate HIPPA law and that my confidentiality is of utmost importance, I feel comfortable waiving that right to protect my co-workers. Why are some admins informing staff if someone in their building tests positive while others do not? Why has no one from HR (or whatever committee should be responsible) contacted us to see what areas we were in to determine where to disinfect?

The impression WSFCS is portraying to families and staff members is one of transparency and that is NOT the case. How do I know I wasn’t exposed at work? Perhaps, my admin team knew of a positive case at my school and didn’t notify anyone and no contact tracing nor disinfection occurred..... which is exactly what’s happening in my case now. Maybe I was exposed somewhere else.....but clearly this could happen time and time again with current practices.

I’ve had to contact all of my families to inform them my assistant and I have COVID because we made packets for parent pick up last week. Those packets could’ve been contaminated as we don’t have definitive answers as to how long the virus lives on paper. I told parents who had picked up packets to throw them away (including the masks we provided as we were to open October 26!!) The ones that haven’t been picked up remain outside of the front door at school. In good conscience I chose to inform my families immediately of the possible exposure.

I have informed my families that we will not have synchronous learning Mon-Tues of this week as I am tired, weak and sick but that we will resume Wednesday (IF I am able) with the 7-10 zoom calls I do a day and the asynchronous learning. I assume it is acceptable for me to work remotely as I cannot return to work until 11/2 given the quarantine measures to which I must adhere.

As a board, you have a responsibility to protect your employees not just the students. I have comorbidities that could make COVID very dangerous for me and I KNOW others in my building do, as well. When no one else takes responsibility for informing us of possible exposures, for disinfecting, for watching out for us..... we lose faith. In WSFCS, it’s leadership and the board.

I call on you to do more and to help

protect your staff during these times.

Heather Robbins


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