PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Classrooms have been empty since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March. And while Arizona schools plan to reopen this fall, a recent survey found not all teachers are certain they will be returning.
“Teachers are very concerned about health and safety issues,” said Christine Thompson, CEO of Expect More Arizona. “What stood out to me the most is that we got 11,000 responses inside of the first few days of asking teachers.”
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Thompson says, like parents, teachers are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 and how to responsibly reopen our schools.
“Seventy-nine percent of teachers say they were planning to return to the classroom. And you know, that is a fascinating number. But we also had 18% who weren't sure if they were going to return,” said Thompson.
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Arizona already has a teacher-shortage crisis, and there is a fear this pandemic could make matters worse.
“If we had 18% of teachers, or even 15% of teachers say, 'I can't go back,' that could be catastrophic,” said Thompson.
Overall, teachers are ready to get back into the classroom, but remain concerned about health and want to have their voice heard in the planning process. Two-thirds of respondents shared that the pandemic did not influence their decision to go back to the classroom, but more than half are concerned or very concerned about health and safety.
Teachers surveyed say in order to feel comfortable returning to campus they want clear protocols in place for staff, parents and students, daily professional cleaning, strict sanitation procedures and access to cleaning products.
“Teachers rely on their pocketbooks or parents to bring in Lysol wipes to clean their classrooms right now and that isn't acceptable,” said Thompson. “So, what is that going to look like? Increasing janitorial services is an expense. So, where does that expense come from?”
It's a problem the state, districts and lawmakers will need to work together to solve to ensure a safe environment for students and teachers.
The entire survey and results can be found here.