LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – COVID-19 concerns among Jefferson County Public Schools teachers appear behind numbers in a recent poll from the teachers’ union.
The Jefferson County Teachers Association (JCTA) survey of 3,700 teachers shows 63 percent would prefer starting the school year with some kind of distance learning or non-traditional instruction (NTI) instead of in-person classes.
Just two weeks ago the state released guidelines for reopening classrooms including social distancing, contact tracing and masks for all students. Teachers now express low confidence in being able to enforce those guidelines.
“We have adults that refuse to adhere to wearing mask guidelines, so, storming out of businesses, yelling at employees about having to wear a mask,” JCPS teacher Emilie Blanton said, “So we have adults who won’t wear masks. Those adults have children, and those children go to our schools.”
The state recommended guidelines call for students to wear masks unless they’re sitting 6 feet apart and anytime they are on the move. It just one of the many precautions the state’s largest school district has to consider when figuring out how or if students and teachers can go back to classrooms safely. Some wonder if teachers might opt out entirely.
“Anything is a possibility right now because everything is so unknown,” JCTA Secretary Tyra Walker said. “It is a possibility that we would have a teacher shortage due to teachers taking sabbatical for a year or maybe some retiring.”
A teacher shortage would leave the district with few options. It is a scenario administrators are working to avoid.
“That is a concern but we want to work with our teachers,” Renee Murphy, JCPS Chief of Communications said. “We want to come to a decision and make a plan that is safe for all parties involved and we want to work together and come to a decision that is in the best interest of our students and our staff.”
Murphy said a final decision on what the beginning of the JCPS school year will look like is expected in a couple of weeks.