SAN ANTONIO – A coalition of teachers unions is demanding that campuses remain closed for at least the first nine weeks of the school year and that districts focus on virtual learning during that time.
That includes teachers and staff carrying out instruction at home “as the COVID-19 pandemic rages across the country,” the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel wrote in a letter on Monday, the same day the group planned three rallies across the city.
The rallies, with teachers, students and parents were held at the San Antonio Alliance office and the central offices of the North East and Northside independent school districts.
The letter states it is “unacceptable” to ask teachers and students to return to campus. They’re calling on school boards, superintendents and city leaders to “change course immediately.”
As allowed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the San Antonio Metro Health District has directed no on-campus face-to-face instruction until after Sept. 7. School districts have been ordered to develop written plans with health and safety protocols by Aug. 21.
The health district is expected to issue an amended health directive later this week.
“COVID-19 continues to spread, unchecked, in our communities, and San Antonio lacks the testing and contact tracing infrastructure to support even the most limited reopening plans,” the letter from San Antonio Alliance states.
“Under these conditions, no educator should be working from campuses, and no attempt should be made to require educators to return to physical spaces that may threaten their lives.”
The letter adds: “They do not need to be micromanaged, and there is no reason to require them to report to district buildings to carry out instruction.”
The alliance — which is affiliated with the National Education Association, Texas State Teachers Association, the American Federation of Teachers, Texas AFT, and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations — is making the following demands:
- Use virtual-only learning during the first nine weeks.
- Keep campuses closed until its safe to reopen to students and teachers.
- Provide hazard pay for employees who have been working on-site since the beginning of the pandemic, or since March 16.
- Reopen schools when there’s a decline in new cases for 14 consecutive days, when there’s a positive test rate of then than 5%, and when the transmission rate is less than 1%.
Read the full letter below:
In response to the letter, the San Antonio Independent School District states teachers are returning in a staggered approach starting Aug. 17, and district officials will continue to monitor the evolving COVID-19 crisis.
SAISD said the first eight weeks of instruction will be adaptable and, if needed, remote learning may continue after Labor Day.
“We are hearing from many teachers who are interested in being in the first phase of coming back,” the district added, saying teachers will give virtual instruction from their classrooms.