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San Antonio teachers weighing their options as school year approaches

Teacher Adrian Reyna says he is worried about returning to in-person learning

SAN ANTONIOEditor’s note: This content was created exclusively for KSAT Explains, a new, weekly streaming show that dives deep into the biggest issues facing San Antonio and South Texas. Watch past episodes here and download the free KSAT-TV app to stay up on the latest.

Teachers across San Antonio are asking themselves whether returning to in-person learning is worth the risk while the spread of COVID-19 remains uncontrolled.

“Quite honestly, I haven’t come to a decision yet about if it’s worth it in terms of the job. Is it worth it in terms of doing what’s right for kids? Absolutely,” said Adrian Reyna, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Longfellow Middle School.

Reyna has been a teacher with San Antonio Independent School District for 10 years. He is also the vice president of the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel.

Reyna said he is concerned that he could bring home the coronavirus to his parents.

“They’re not particularly old, but they are older. They fall in that category,” Reyna said. “But there is definitely a real concern that I would bring something to them as I care for them.”

What happens when a teacher gets COVID-19 during the school year?

According to a survey of 600 teachers, the San Antonio Alliance found that “about 70% either take care of a child, an elderly person or someone that is immunocompromised. About another third of those people are immunocompromised themselves,” Reyna said.

Reyna said he and other teachers understand how crucial face-to-face instruction is for students. He said they also know that schools serve as a safe space for children who don’t live in ideal conditions at home.

“I don’t think there’s a teacher who’s going to say that being in person is not what is the most effective thing,” Reyna said. “I think that is definitely something we can all agree on. However, the question is, ‘Is it safest?’”

Reyna said there is no doubt that teachers are committed to their jobs and their students.

“I’ll just steal an anecdote that came out of a teacher from Washington. He said, Every day we show up to school, teachers are willing to take a bullet for their kids In this day and age with mass shooters, that’s just something that we wake up with, and we understand that is going to be a part of our job,” Reyna said. “And I don’t think there’s a single person in a classroom full of kids who is not willing to step in front of that door and take that bullet. But this teacher said, but now what you’re asking me to do is take that bullet home to my family.”

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