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‘I can’t go back to campus': SAISD teachers fearful of returning to classrooms next week

The district informed teachers who had been teaching remotely that they must return by October 13

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio ISD notified teachers who have been teaching remotely that they must return to campuses next week. However, a return to the classroom could have dire consequences.

Catherine Brendel is a teacher at Highland Hills Elementary School and she has taught there for five years. She has been teaching from her home since March.

Brendel said she has been placed in a difficult situation.

“Never thought I would have to make a decision on teaching or my life," Brendel said.

She filed a request with the district over the summer to continue to teach remotely. This week, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District announced more students can return to classroom as long as CDC guidelines are followed.

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Metro Health said schools can welcome back 10 to 20 students with the risk level being low. However, there should be students who would benefit the most from in-person learning, and the decision would belong to the school districts.

Brendel said she has an underlining medical condition.

“I’ve maintained a meticulous bubble, and soon as I go into my classroom, I pop it," she said.

Brendel filed a second request to extend remote teaching but has yet to receive an answer.

“I can’t go back to campus," said Brendel.

SAISD has received approximately 125 work modification requests from teachers and they say they are carefully reviewing each of them.

Claire Romano is in a similar situation.

“I think anyone would feel nervous of not knowing and your safety and health is on the line," she said.

Romano is a teacher at Steel Montessori Academy, but said she has health conditions. She is unsure if she will have to be back in class next week.

She hopes district leaders are listening.

“My life is at risk going into a classroom when COVID is still out there," said Romano.

Brendel hopes the right decision will be made.

“We just got to be still and wait and that saves lives.”

SAISD said they will offer as much flexibility as possible and will carefully balance staff and campus needs.

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