INDIANAPOLIS — Classes resume in districts across Indiana over the next few weeks, with many teachers full of angst, especially those returning to in-classroom teaching.
Amber Seibert, set to start a new job as a high school English teacher said, "I don't know a single educator who wouldn't give anything to go back and be in class right now, but it's just not safe."
Seibert worries about her students, colleagues and herself. She said she's in the at-risk category.
While her district and others have shared a list of protocols to protect students and staff, Seibert said, "with an actual classroom, I don't know if it's logistically possible to follow CDC guidelines with social distancing and cleaning or screening for a history of contacts or temperatures."
"A lot of classrooms don't have windows, there are schools without proper ventilation or air conditioning and I think there's no reason to be risking it when you have a perfectly safe alternative," Seibert added.
Seibert says that "safe alternative" is online teaching.
She's part of group of educators, parents and community members who started an online petition demanding a "safe return to campuses."
At the top of the list? Not returning to campuses until counties report no new cases of COVID-19 for at least 14 days.
At last check, the petition topped 8,400 signatures.
Crista Carlino, a city-county councilor and high school librarian, also worries about educators returning to schools.
"I have colleagues with cancer, colleagues who are caretakers and students who have health issues," Carlino said.
She tweeted, "this summer teachers are revising their wills, upping their life insurance and pre-planning funerals... LITERALLY PREPARING TO DIE FOR OUR KIDS."
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"There's some non-negotiables when it comes to opening school and those non-negotiables are the health and safety of our staff and students," Carlino said.
A spokesperson for the The Indiana State Teacher's Association (ISTA) said they're hearing from a "growing number of voices" with a host of questions and concerns.
Tuesday, the ISTA president meets with Governor Holcomb to address a number of issues. They include:
- Addressing the needs of medically vulnerable students and school employees
- Eliminating or reducing standardized testing during the 2020–2021 school year
- Offering consistent access to protective equipment
- Clarity around when schools should close and/or reopen due to COVID-19 spikes
- Encouraging the congressional delegation to provide federal relief to public schools in Indiana
Right now Seibert sees just one option.
"Given tough impossible choice of living or learning right now, I think we can do best online and save lives and I think that's where we need to go," Seibert said.