DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Ready or not the new school year gets underway in a little more than a month in North Texas.
With Covid-19 cases surging, concerns from the other side of the educational equation tilt toward fear, anxiety and many unanswered questions.
“The stress level from lack of information, and not knowing how to plan, how to prepare has just skyrocketed,” says Rena Honea, President of Alliance-AFT.
The union represents teachers and support staff in the Dallas ISD. She says state leaders have indicated that classroom instruction will return, regardless.
“For the most part, people are extremely concerned because no one can answer: What if an employee becomes sick, and they’ve been around a lot of people? What if a student gets sick? What if a family member of a student or an employee gets sick, how are those going to be taken care of? What’s the procedure that will take place and what is the plan if a school has to close?”
Honea says the coronavirus pandemic is forcing districts to reconsider everything from transportation to how to care for children with special needs.
She said it is getting late in the summer to still have so many unanswered questions and lack of guidance from the Texas Education Agency.
“For educators, it is frightening to think that many people still don’t know if they’ve been approved to teach only online: ‘Do I go face to face? I need to work. I need my job, I love my students, but I have to consider the health of myself and my family as well.’ So it’s very concerning, it’s very daunting for people right now, not knowing.”
Districts across North Texas are already polling parents about instructional preferences, surveying positions on a return to the classroom, moving learning online, or a mix of both.
Beyond the surveys, Honea is encouraging parents to reach out to campus principals and their board trustees to share questions and concerns.
As for Alliance AFT members, she’s getting a mix of emotions.
Some are “really afraid, some have said, ‘I am willing to go back into the classroom’,” says Honea. She is pushing for educators’ concerns to be heard, and to provide her members with answers.
“So many what-ifs,” laments Honea.