Austin teachers union calls on district to keep classes online: ‘We are begging you’

Jul 9, 2020 by

Educators in the Austin school district are calling on state and local leaders to keep classes online for the first part of the fall semester, saying the risk of resuming any in-person activity is too great given the severity of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We recognize there are no good options — they are all lousy options. But we have to pick the least lousy of those options,” said Ken Zarifis, president of the district’s employees union, Education Austin. “And we think a simple system of across-the-board online will be the easiest way to keep all people safe.”

Zarifis and other union members responded Wednesday to Texas Education Agency guidelines, released a day earlier, that said in-person classes will be held daily but gave parents the option of sending their children to school or have them learn remotely.

Educators in Austin said this model poses a risk of virus exposure for teachers who will still be required to enter buildings.

“We don’t want someone dead. We don’t want someone sick. We can only teach people when they’re alive,” Zarifis said. “It seems simple to us that we wouldn’t put people in harm’s way.”

Zarifis called on TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, Gov. Greg Abbott and Austin school district Superintendent Paul Cruz to take action.

“Please, we are begging you — do not open our schools on August 18,” he said.

Cases of the coronavirus have been climbing in Austin and around Texas over the past few weeks, prompting state and local officials to reinstate restrictions on social gatherings and require masks in public places. This week, Travis County leaders said they were preparing the Austin Convention Center as an emergency overflow site for hospitals that are handling high numbers of coronavirus patients.

Source: Austin teachers union calls on district to keep classes online: ‘We are begging you’ – News – Austin American-Statesman – Austin, TX

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