TEXAS, USA — The Pflugerville Educators Association and the Del Valle Education Association demanded on July 13 that their school districts provide only remote instruction for the first nine weeks of the new school year and that the state not penalize the districts with funding cuts, according to a press release from the Texas State Teachers Association.
“We are in the middle of a deadly COVID-19 pandemic that shows no signs of abating. If anything, it is getting worse,” said Michelle Cardenas, a pre-K dual language teacher in Del Valle and vice president of membership for the Del Valle Education Association. “It is not reasonable to require teachers and other school employees to endanger their health and even their lives by returning to campuses when, in all likelihood, the pandemic will still be very dangerous.”
According to the release, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is allowing school districts to limit the first three weeks of the semester to remote learning, but it's requiring school districts to provide on-campus instruction for any student who wants it during that period.
After those first three weeks, school districts will be required to offer on-campus classes – with an option for remote learning – or lose state funding.
“Teachers love to teach, and we want to get back to doing that. But we didn’t sign up – and neither did our support staff – to put our lives at risk when that can be avoided by common-sense precautions, such as an extended period of virtual learning. It is the decent thing to do,” Cardenas said.
August Plock, a high school social studies teacher in Pflugerville and president of the Pflugerville Educators Association, said school districts were being blackmailed by the state through the loss of funding into reopening before it is safe for students and staff to return to school. He also noted that the TEA has given parents the option of keeping their children at home for remote learning.
“But the agency didn’t extend the same consideration to teachers and other school employees. Our health and our lives are important too. Some of us have underlying health conditions that put us at higher risk of COVID, and many of us have children and families at home who also need to be protected. We don’t want to come home with the virus and also put their lives at risk,” Plock said.
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