DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Some Dallas ISD teachers say they are concerned for the safety of students, themselves and family members if in-person learning resumes in the fall.
Even with temperature checks, face masks, plexiglass and other measures, some educators say going back to class in a pandemic isn’t realistic.
“You can’t keep kids clumped up in a room all day,” said Sheila Walker. “That’s not going to work for anybody.”
Walker, a Dallas ISD community liaison, says she and other members of teachers’ union NEA-Dallas are being left out of decision-making at the district.
Rodney Mancuso, a 6th grade teacher, worries that in-person classes will create a breeding ground for COVID-19. “Especially with elementary and middle school kids, there will be transmission. They’re not going to wear their masks and do everything they’re being asked all the time.”
While children have been largely unaffected by the virus, teachers are concerned what will happen once it’s carried home.
“Many thousands of our [students’] families have elderly people in their homes – they are multigenerational homes,” said Diane Birdwell.
The AP world history teacher worries she, too, could get sick.
“If I go back to school and get sick and I end up in the hospital, it will cost me thousands and thousands [of dollars]. It will wipe me out.”
Rosa Maria Riviera is an ESL teacher at Dallas ISD. “I’m not physically able to go back to the classroom because I have underlying conditions.”
Still, the teachers admit that online learning comes with its own set of challenges. “Due to the nature of distance learning, you simply cannot reach a significant portion of students if they don’t want to be reached,” said Mancuso.
Birdwell wonders how it will be possible for such a large district to shift to 100% online learning. “We are an in-person, 227-building district with 115,000 kids – how do you do this?”
While districts grapple with that questions, these Dallas ISD teachers say they are being left out of the decision making. They are concerned that plans are being made without input from people on the front lines. Walker says her union has received calls from employees in all departments. “Bus drivers are calling, ‘what are we supposed to do?'” she said. “‘How are we supposed to transport these kids to school?'”
A district spokesperson told CBS 11 while teachers were not part of the main group of decision makers, subcommittees provided drafts of plans to two of the largest teachers unions, including NEA-Dallas. The district also sent surveys to all teachers.
The panel CBS 11 spoke with says, it’s not enough.
“We’re not criticizing,” said Birdwell. “We’re begging to be included.”