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Burbank High School teacher suspended after raising concerns over in-person learning

The San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel has filed grievance with principal of school

SAN ANTONIO – Questions are mounting after a teacher at Burbank High School was placed on administrative leave this week.

The action came after concerns were raised about San Antonio Independent School District’s plans for in-person learning next week.

The San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel said Luke Amphlett and other members raised their worries in a letter to school leaders.

However, Amphlett was the only teacher to receive an email from SAISD that informed him he would be placed on a paid administrative leave.

Lead Organizer with the San Antonio Alliance, Diana De Leon believes it was an act of retaliation.

“The message we believe is to send to other folks is that they should not be speaking up,” she said.

Some of the concerns the group raised included masks not being worn, rooms not being properly sanitized, and screening procedures for students.

De Leon said some teachers were worried they would have to begin taking multiple students’ temperatures.

According to the district’s website the district will require daily health checks for students and staff that include temperature screening and symptom checking.

The health checks will be in accordance with Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

School administrators will use methods in the Center for Disease Control’s supplemental Guidance for Childcare Programs, which will act as a guide for screening children.

Some examples of screening methods may include:

  • Ask parents/guardians to take their child’s temperature either before coming to the facility or upon arrival at the facility. Upon their arrival, stand at least 6 feet away from the parent/guardian and child.
  • Ask the parent/guardian to confirm that the child does not have fever, shortness of breath or cough.
  • Make a visual inspection of the child for signs of illness which could include flushed cheeks, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing (without recent physical activity), fatigue, or extreme fussiness.

The CDC’s supplemental does not specify who would be checking the temperatures.

However, members with the San Antonio Alliance have filed a grievance with the principal at Burbank High School. The union believes Amphlett’s rights have been violated and they ask him to be reinstated.

“This has to do with public health. This has to do with school communities and the two can’t be separated,” said De Leon.

SAISD could not comment on Amphlett’s leave but told KSAT12 they respect their employees rights to raise concerns.

Amphlett is also part of a coalition made up of SAISD teachers, students, and parents. Their focus is on the safe reopening of schools.

Alejo Soto and Jacqueline Campos are members of the group. Soto said Amphlett’s leave is a setback for the district.

“When we see stuff like this happen it’s a real slap in the face to us and to those who have been advocating for this change,” he said.

Campos fears their concerns will be silenced.

“We see our teachers being punished like this, what does that look like for us once we go back and want to express real concern,” she questioned.

The district’s website states the first day of school will be designated as a “training day” for students and staff. The training will be conducted by school nurses and will include:

  • Hand-washing (with soap and water for at least 20 seconds)
  • Hand sanitizing (containing at least 60% alcohol can be used for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer)
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Properly putting on, wearing, and removing a face mask and a face shield
  • Properly washing/cleaning a face mask or face shield
  • Importance of physical distancing
  • Protocol for using restrooms
  • Protocol for water fountains and water bottles
  • Review of safety posters

For more on SAISD’s plan for in-person learning click here.