AUSTIN, Texas — Outside McCallum High School in Central Austin on Monday, you could see a few students walking around as Austin ISD approached week seven of its re-opening plan.
The plan included opening buildings to 50% capacity starting on Oct. 19, but faces you won't see on campus anytime soon include seniors Olivia Navarro and Erica Moomaw.
"I would not feel safe going back to school," said Moomaw.
"My mom is immunocompromised and I just don't see that happening," said Navarro.
Both are choosing virtual learning because of COVID-19. It's an option they think teachers should have as well.
"I think every single one of our teachers should get the option, regardless of medical accommodation or not. I think that they should have the right to keep their family safe, just like students and their families do. And we should not treat our teachers like they are expendable," Navarro said.
So when Navarro heard one of her favorite teachers was at risk of losing his job for refusing to return to campus for the same reason, she took action.
"And the thought of losing him made me so upset," Navarro said.
The 17-year-old started a petition on Thursday night. She told everyone to post it everywhere. We saw it on Nextdoor the next day. By Monday afternoon, there were nearly 10,000 signatures.
"It's mind-blowing, it's mind-blowing. It's inspiring," said Daniel Myers.
He said he is impressed by his students and the community, but not so much by the district.
"You know, I don't want this to be the end of my teaching career," Myers said.
His students feel the same.
"And Mr. Myers is definitely one of the most loved teachers at McCallum," Moomaw said.
"I think that he's one of the best teachers on our campus," Navarro said.
We reached out to the district regarding Myers' case. A district spokesman released the following statement:
"AISD is committed to continued engagement with our staff, including Mr. Myers, in both the accommodations process and the identifying of creative solutions to support them where possible. Some individuals are granted an accommodation to work remotely. Staff members who do not qualify for this accommodation are encouraged to engage with their supervisor to explore other accommodations at the worksite.
"The district provides employees 4 to 6 sick days each year, depending on the employee’s work calendar. The State provides an additional 5 days of personal leave. Unused sick and personal days roll over from year to year and must be used in accordance with district policy.
"The Employee Relations Office is available to support all staff through this process."
We also asked the district for information regarding medical accommodations. As of Oct. 19, there were 1,074 teacher requests for medical accommodations:
- 742 were granted
- 1 was denied
- 81 are pending
- 250 are inactive
If you would like to sign the petition to help save Myers' job, click here.
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