Teachers Call In Sick Due to COVID-19 Safety Concerns
Many school teachers fear for their safety and are protesting the resumption of in-person classes.
The district had voted to reopen August 17 despite teachers participating in “motor marches” in July to protest reopening, reports Newsweek. Administrators, however, did an about face on Friday due to an overwhelming number of teacher and staff no-shows. Of the approximately 250 teachers in the district, 109 had put in for absences on the first day of school. Additionally, since July 1, 23 employees have resigned from the district.
Teachers in Chicago are also objecting going back to face-to-face classes due to their health concerns. Last week, faculty members in hundreds of cars participated in a motor march by City Hall, reports USA Today. In response, Chicago public schools are scheduled to start the 2020-2021 academic year on September 8 offering virtual classes only.
New York City announced it would offer some in-person instruction, but a wing of the United Federation of Teachers is fighting that move.
In Detroit, teachers will vote this week on whether they will strike over COVID-19 safety concerns, reports the Detroit Free Press. The local union president told the news outlet, “This is not a traditional work stoppage. This is a refusal of employees to return to an unsafe work environment. Our teachers are ready to teach. We’re excited. We miss our students, we want to continue to engage with them, but we want to do it safely.”
He’s urging the district to start the fall semester online and monitor health data to determine when it’s safe to reopen the campuses. This approach is being adopted by most of the large school districts in America, including Los Angeles, Houston and Arlington, Virginia.
In Florida – which has seen a huge spike in infections, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, districts that want to start the fall semester online are being threatened by Governor Ron DeSantis with cuts to their funding, reports the Washington Post.
The district in Hillsborough County was told it would lose nearly $200 million if it offered only online classes for the first month. In response to the threat, the county will now start schools with just one week of remote learning. After that, parents will be able to choose if they want to send their students to in-person classes or continue distance learning.
Studies show that children are major drivers of the pandemic. About one in four American school teachers are considered high-risk for contracting COVID-19 due to their underlying health conditions and/or age.
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