DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Teachers in North Texas are voicing their concerns about returning to classrooms at the beginning of the new school year due to COVID-19.
During a conference call last week, Mike Morath, the head of the Texas Education Agency, told state lawmakers it will be safe for students to return to schools in the fall. However, parents will have the final say on whether to send their children to the school buildings or keep them at home for remote learning.
The president of Alliance-AFT, a union that represents about 4,800 Dallas ISD employees, said about half of her educators feel it’s too soon to tell if it will be safe to return to classrooms in the fall.
“I don’t believe they’re listening to what educators have to say at all,” Rena Honea said.
Dallas ISD eighth grade teacher Eric Martinez said he’s one of those teachers who has concerns.
“There’s a lot of safety precautions being put in place for the students, but I know from the teacher side, there’s concerns about what that would look like for us,” Martinez said. “… There’s a few surveys that have been coming our way, but otherwise, there hasn’t been any forums or even Zoom calls as we’re all doing nowadays to discuss the teacher perspective.”
Honea pointed out a current spike in cases and hospitalizations within Dallas ISD.
“We just truly feel like we need to pay attention to what the medical experts are saying, to what the county is saying,” Honea said.
While Dallas County has instituted a face mask requirement at businesses throughout the county, that may not be the case in schools this fall, according to a TEA spokesperson.
“If you listen to the medical experts, that’s one of the best ways to help slow down the rate of the coronavirus,” Honea said.
“I just think we really have to pay attention to what’s happening and if people don’t feel safe, if parents don’t feel safe, they’re not going to be able to do it,” she added.
If remote learning does continue into the fall, Alliance-AFT hopes more training will come with that, saying many educators had to change course at the last minute back in March and did not get the proper instruction needed to be successful in that role.