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Austin teachers weigh in on district's decision to resume in-person learning

On Dec. 31, Austin ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde announced teachers will return to the classroom on Jan. 6

AUSTIN, Texas — On Jan. 6, Austin ISD teachers will head back to their classrooms after winter break. 

But, some teachers are nervous about rising COVID-19 cases in Travis County. 

At one point in time, being a wife, a mother, and an English teacher were the three things that were top of mind for Miranda Erlanson.

But now she has a lot more on her plate.

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"I still fully believe that these teachers are being led to their deaths," said Erlanson.

Sick with COVID-19 complications since March, Erlanson's been teaching from home. During the pandemic, she has become an advocate that hundreds of teachers across the state have turned to as they worry about their own health. 

Erlanson also created a Facebook page 'Covid Survivors from Texas'.

"It's horrible watching the dominos fall being at the front like 'you're not going to be okay, you're not going to be okay, if you end up like me you're not going to be okay! And then we're just sending them in there," said Erlanson.

Austin ISD Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde announced Thursday that teachers and students will return after winter break. Parents have the option to keep kids home for virtual learning. 

"If we went 100% remote, the challenge is we only get 50% credit for that time, and it can also impact additional funding," said Elizalde.

One of the teachers returning is Brandon Batiansila, who has been teaching fifth grade at Casis Elementary for 23 years. 

"I will teach to just in-person students, so I'll pick up some of those and some of mine are coming back, so I'll have 24 in a portable due to construction at the school," said Batiansila.

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The district says it's taking precautions including social distancing and Plexiglas in classrooms. 

Batiansila wrote in an email Thursday night to the district that he's not sure it's enough. He's worried after losing his mother to COVID-19 in the summer. 

"Six days after New Years Eve, I'll be sitting with them face-to-face, which doesn't seem like it follows science," said Batiansila. 

Batiansila told KVUE feels he doesn't have a choice. 

"My option was resign or teach in-person, so I didn't get an accommodation. I don't fit a category," said Batiansila.


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