Pueblo Education Association voices teacher concerns about in-person fall learning

Coronavirus

PUEBLO, Colo. — Will schools return to normal in the fall?

The debate now happening nationwide as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) give guidance to schools.

The CDC said the more people a student or staff member interacts with, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19.

Below are the CDC guidelines:

Lowest Risk: Students and teachers engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events.
More Risk: Small, in-person classes, activities, and events. Groups of students stay together and with the same teacher throughout/across school days and groups do not mix. Students remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects (e.g., hybrid virtual and in-person class structures, or staggered/rotated scheduling to accommodate smaller class sizes).
Highest Risk: Full sized, in-person classes, activities, and events. Students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies, and mix between classes and activities.

-CDC

“We all know teachers want to get back, to the classrooms, they miss their students, they want to be there with them, they know that’s the best for the students,” PEA President Mike Maes said. “But ultimately it’s about the lives of people. And one life is too many. So, it’s going to be a real tough process to get ready for the fall.”

Pueblo teachers concerned especially after an Arizona teacher died after sharing a classroom with two other teachers. Though Arizona school officials say all three wore gloves, masks and used hand sanitizer, all three contracted the virus. One died.

“It’s not just a local concern not just state concern everyone across the country is unsure and afraid of what the implications are of having large groups of people in such a small, contained space,” Maes said.

Mike Maes with Pueblo Education Association (PEA) said some teachers are afraid.

“We are getting questions from teachers, on that regard as well, are we going to get fact shield plexiglass barrier, masks. We haven’t been given answers too,” Maes said.

Questions that District 60 itself are still working to answer.

District 60 sent a statement about their plans saying:

We are continuing to make progress with our task force to establish a plan to reopen our schools as safely as possible. Our task force includes five representatives from PEA and other district staff to help guide our efforts. As always, we remain committed to supporting our students, families, and staff as work in collaboration to finalize our plans moving forward.

Dalton Sprouse, District 60

The PEA will make sure their voices are heard, saying a strike would be last resort.

“It’s not out the question, it’s not something we discussed at length, it has been mentioned. It’s not out of the realm of possibility,” Maes said.

The PEA is surveying members right now what their concerns are hoping to bring the results to the district.

District 49 said they will be reopening “normally” in the fall. They say masks will be required for all students, staff, and guests.

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