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Back to school, but with a virus: Educators have concerns over safety

Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 11:17 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’ve been focused on parents and how they’re taking the news of schools’ plans to reopen. But what about teachers? They aren’t the ones making the decisions, but they’re certainly affected by them.

It's almost time to head back to school, but there are still some questions and concerns for the ones

Dr. Stacie Pettit hears and knows all about the concerns that teachers have. She instructs future teachers at Augusta University, but used to work as middle school teacher.

“There’s a lot of buzz around student safety, student safety. Well, what about teacher safety?” said Pettit, a professor at the AU College of Education.

Dr. Sandra Carraway, superintendent of Columbia County Schools, understands the concern for teachers as well firsthand. With any school reopening during a pandemic, serious changes will be brought to the classroom to try to keep everyone safe.

“We all know that the most vulnerable people in our schools are probably-- are faculty and staff,” she said.

And like parents, one main concern for teachers is their students keeping masks on and social distancing.

“Just how in the world am I going to socially distance in my classroom? That’s what I hear teachers saying,” Pettit said.

Columbia County school leaders hear that too and will be presenting their plans on Tuesday.

“Probably our greatest discussion among our faculty would be being able to social distance, and then wearing face coverings,” Carraway said.

And for the teachers who are tech savvy, they get priority to teach online which would ease the issues.

“It needs to be people who have strengths and have the passion and the knowledge to be able to do that,” Carraway said.

But if one thing is for sure:

“We’re just going to have to be super flexible, who knows what’s going to happen,” Pettit said.

“And if we all work together, and are flexible, and understanding, and considerate of others -- if we do all those things, we’ll be more successful,” Carraway said.

In all the districts, teachers can put in a request to teach online. They also all say that custodians will oversee primary cleaning.

Lastly, and this is nationwide, if a teacher catches the virus, they will receive two weeks of paid sick leave.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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