Teachers fearful and worried about safety as schools reopen

'We need to deal with the reality we have, not the reality we want'

Teachers fearful and worried about safety as schools reopen
Teachers voice concerns about in-person learning this fall (Source: Chris Riva)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Teachers say crucial questions about school safety, social distancing, and preventing further spread of COVID-19 have not been answered as the school year approaches.

Some say they’re feeling the pressure to get back to physical classrooms even as the coronavirus continues to spread.

“Conditions are so much worse than in the spring,” elementary school teacher Alejandra Lopez said. “I am confused as to why we are considering going back.”

Lopez says her biggest fear is “people dying” as schools reopen this fall.

“I think we are focusing on a safe return when it can not be safe right now,” she added.

Lopez teaches second grade in one of the largest school districts in Ohio. She is one of many teachers that say they believe school districts and administrators are being put a tough spot.

“I think we are focusing on the wrong problems,” Lopez said. “We are talking about a safe return when it can not be safe right now.”

Many teachers say they wonder why schools are going back to in-person learning now considering the pandemic numbers are far worse than in March when schools shut down.

“I think our district and administrators are doing the best they can,” 4th-grade teacher Nicole Campbell said. “This is not about my district, this is a bigger issue.”

School systems across the Tri-State are struggling to meet the logistical challenges of reopening safely.

Now, as teachers listen to a national conversation about reopening schools, many worry that the needs of the economy and working parents are placed above classroom safety.

“The biggest message I want people to understand is we are not ready,” Campbell said. “We are not ready for in-person, it is not safe.”

Campbell wrote about the subject on her blog that has been read thousands of times and shared over social media. Her biggest fear is the spread of the virus in her classroom.

“I think the broader question is why are we asking districts, administrators, and teachers to do something we are not ready for?” Campbell added. “My biggest fear is all it takes is one asymptomatic child to spread it in the classroom despite the school’s best efforts.”

She believes students should not come back to the classroom until there are 14-days without a positive test in Hamilton County.

Kelly Livingston teaches second grade in Hamilton County. She admits to being fearful when it comes to student safety as they go back into the classroom knowing the virus continues to spread in the county where she teaches.

“We need to deal with the reality that we have,” Livingston said. “Not the reality that we want.”

The topic of heading back to school has educators and parents concerned.

FOX19 wants to help facilitate the conversation and get some of your questions answered.

That’s why we created the Kids, Classes and Coronavirus Facebook group.

We’re sharing what we know and we want to hear from you - what do you want to know?

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