Harlandale ISD teachers push for remote learning for fall school year amid COVID-19 surge

Harlandale Education Association wants 100% remote learning until it's safe to return to school

SAN ANTONIO – Harlandale ISD teachers gathered Sunday afternoon at Harlandale Memorial Stadium to voice their concerns on returning to school in the fall as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the area.

“I honestly feel that we need to stay out of the schools and away and stay home until there are lower, fewer cases,” said Monica Zapata, elementary school teacher.

“The Latino community that we predominately serve has been hit harder by COVID. And so, we don’t want to make it worse for our students or families who are really suffering and also for our own colleagues,” said Natalie Clifford, high school teacher.

The president of the Harlandale Education Association said they are asking for flexibility to do 100% remote learning until it’s safe to return.

“We want our governor... to know that you cannot put a time stamp on life, on us to return to school. We need to have 100% online classes until it’s safe for schools to return. Two, we want our schools to be 100% funded through this crisis that we’re going through, and no to STAAR (exam). There’s no way that our students should be accountable for STAAR at this moment,” said Julie Gimbel, president of Harlandale Education Association.

A health directive issued Friday by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District said school districts in San Antonio cannot reopen schools for on-campus, face-to-face instruction until after September 7.

RELATED: No face-to-face classes, extra-curricular activities until after Sept. 7, San Antonio health department says

“Labor Day gives us a little bit of time, gives a little bit of certainty to the parents and the students of what to expect for at least the next six weeks,” said Dr. Colleen Bridger, interim director of Metro Health.

High school student Elena Garza said Labor Day is still too soon.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea because I do know there’s a lot of people that aren’t taking this seriously, that don’t even believe that the virus is real,” Garza said.

“I love my students dearly. I miss them a lot, but I don’t want to see them in person yet because I don’t want them to get sick and I want to protect them,” Clifford said.

About the Authors:

Tiffany Huertas is known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.