San Antonio – Megan Eyden’s voice wavers when she talks about what she said was one of the hardest decisions she has ever had to make.
“It’s hard for me to imagine my life without being in the classroom,” Eyden said Wednesday, two days after she resigned from her job as a choir teacher at Clark High School.
After 10 years of teaching, seven of them at Clark, Eyden said she had to leave the job she loves in order to protect the people she loves. With a diabetic son and an asthmatic daughter, Eyden worries what would happen if she brought home the coronavirus from school.
While she considered trying to get a waiver to teach from home, which Northside ISD is offering to staff who have underlying conditions or who live with someone who does, Eyden said, “I just felt like time was running out for me to make a choice that would allow me to find something in the meantime, you know, before school starts again, before my last paycheck comes. Basically to make sure that they have a way to provide for my kids.”
As debate and confusion over plans to reopen schools continue, teachers and other education staff are having to prepare for what a return to campus would mean for them. Eyden said she knows of a dozen other teachers in the San Antonio area who are resigning or plan to resign.
“I probably know proportionately more teachers than most people do, but I feel like that’s a lot,” Eyden said.
Pamela Bogacz, a special education paraprofessional at Fort Sam Houston ISD, faced a similar dilemma to Eyden’s when it came to her parents, with whom she lives.
“So it was a very tough decision because I do love working with the kids, but I can’t risk my parents’ health,” Bogacz said.
As new cases of COVID-19 continue to roll in in Bexar County, neither of the women feel comfortable with returning to a class full of kids at the moment.
“So trying to follow the CDC guidelines of six foot of distancing - and, for singers, 10 feet of distancing - I really only have space for about 10 to 15 kids at the very, very most to make it safe,” Eyden said.
While both of their districts plan to conduct classes via remote learning until at least after Sept. 7, the Texas Education Agency is allowing districts to limit instruction to remote learning for up to eight weeks. After that, the district has to allow students back on campus.
On Tuesday, the agency said districts that limited to class to remote learning only because of local orders, like what San Antonio has, risked their funding.
Though the news came after Eyden’s resignation, she said it reaffirmed her decision.
“I kind of think TEA has forced the hand of the district. And, you know, the district doesn’t really have a say at that point. And I think that’s really unfortunate because I think the decision needs to come down to what do the numbers look like in your particular area,” Eyden said.