SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel rallied on Monday, asking district leaders to use their flexibility by keeping campuses closed until it’s safe.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Monday that school districts should decide when and how to reopen.
“These teachers, as well as parents, students, other staff, school workers -- they’re all here to let students and our colleagues and our families know that we’re gonna stand up for their for their health and safety,” said Adrian Reyna, vice president of the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel and a Longfellow Middle School teacher. “We’re going to do what’s right.”
The San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel is asking administrators to commit to virtual-only instruction for at least the first nine weeks of school. The organization also wants to keep the campuses closed until there is a decline in new cases for at least 14 consecutive days, a positive test rate of less than 5%, and a transmission rate of less than 1%.
The organization is also asking for hazard pay for workers who have been on site since the pandemic started in March.
“We understand that in-person learning is more effective than online teaching,” Reyna said. “But that’s not the question. The question is, ‘What is safest?’ And when you look at the conditions in San Antonio, in Bexar County, the safest thing for us to do is educate our students remotely.”
Danielle Tullos, a Lowell Middle School teacher, said she can’t wait to see her students again through her virtual classroom. As far as going back inside a school building, she said she doesn’t feel it’s safe for her students or her own family right now.
“I’ve got an elderly family member at home that takes care of my little girl,” Tullos said. “My daughter’s still young. Once it’s time to go back and everything’s safe, I will be the first one there. But we just want to make sure that our families and that our students’ families in our community stay safe.”
The San Antonio Independent School District released the following statement in response:
“Everything we do is with the intention of safety. We continue to monitor the current environment to determine how best to open schools for students. We are prepared to use the flexibility granted by the state if we feel that is necessary. Currently, we have the first eight weeks of the school year to be adaptable, and we will continue remote learning beyond Labor Day if we feel that is needed.
“We are bringing back our teachers in a phased approach – starting first with volunteers to come in August 17 and help us to evaluate all the safety protocols at the school. We are hearing from many teachers who are interested in being in the first phase of coming back. And we will phase teachers in through Labor Day. Teachers will be providing virtual learning from their classrooms, with all the resources they need and without distractions.
“It’s important that all adults on campuses are well-oriented with the new safety protocols and routines so we can support students when they begin entering this new environment.
We also want to make this workable for teachers, who may have their own children receiving remote instruction. While teachers conduct virtual learning in their classrooms, we will offer their school-age children supervision conveniently on the parent’s campus, using large spaces for social distancing such as libraries. This way each students’ learning continues seamlessly – both for the teachers’ students and for their own children.”