PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Eight in 10 Arizona teachers agree schools should reopen only after public health experts determine it is safe. That’s according to an Arizona Education Association survey of 7,651 teachers.
“My gosh, people want to be back in their classroom desperately, but they want to do that when it is safe,” said Joe Thomas, a social studies teacher in Mesa.
He is anxious to get back to school and is also the president of the AEA.
“Their absolute belief that we need to wait to reopen our schools in person until we can have the health community say our communities and our schools are safe.”
This as the White House is pushing to get students back to school right away.
“Arizona is nowhere safe enough as a community, as a society, as a state to be bringing students and educators back into the classroom,” said Thomas.
According to the survey, the majority of teachers doubt their districts are ready to welcome students and staff back in a safe manner.
- 73% say there’s not enough staff and resources for school cleaning, food service, and bus schedules.
- 72% say there are not enough teachers to reopen schools under CDC guidelines and protocols.
- 65% say their school district is not prepared and ready to reopen.
- 57% say their school district has not established clear guidance on social distancing procedures.
- 57% say their school district has not established clear guidance on health screening procedures.
- 44% say their school district has not established clear guidance on mandatory face coverings.
“We have a majority of educators that feel online learning is what we need to do right now and distance learning is what we need to do right now because it is the safest,” said Thomas. “I just don’t see schools being open to any in-person learning in the first nine weeks.”
- 68% disagreed to returning to a brick-and-mortar school
- 61% agreed to implement a complete online or distance learning model
- 58 % agreed to a hybrid model where students attend in person and remotely
Thomas fears 1 million school-age children returning to school will cause a spike in cases worse than any holiday weekend.
“Educators want to be back in the classroom and can’t wait to be back with their students and do the jobs they were hired to do. But for the time being, we’re going to have to do that at a distance, until we can have those classrooms, those bus routes, those hallways be seen and understood as safe again,” said Thomas.
School districts in the Phoenix-area are starting to alter in-person learning plans as COVID-19 cases grow in Maricopa County.
The AEA survey reflects the real fears of educators about teaching in person during a pandemic.
Nine in 10 respondents expressed concerns about students and their families contracting COVID-19.
- 93% are concerned about their colleagues contracting COVID-19
- 92% are concerned about their students and their families contracting COVID-19
- 90% are concerned about their family’s health and someone in their household contracting COVID-19
- 88% are concerned about their own health and contracting COVID-19
When school facilities reopen, teachers want the following strategies implemented:
- 96% say smaller class sizes will be necessary to enforce social distancing.
- 86% want to spread out student lunch periods and enforced social distancing during recess and other activities.
- 73% want to stagger school arrival and/or attendance to enforce social distancing.
Ninety-three percent of respondents said the state should suspend standardized testing until schools return to normal school operations, including requirements on standardized tests like Move on When Reading, the state’s 3rd-grade reading retention program.
Governor Doug Ducey and state leaders announced pushing back the opening of schools in Arizona in the fall due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Educators also voiced other concerns about online instruction, including the need for training, software and computers. They also questioned who will foot the bill for these additional resources and whether it will be the state, districts, or educators. The entire survey and results can be seen here.