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State’s largest teacher group urges Texas officials to delay return to campus

Local educators also express reservations
The state’s largest teacher group urged Texas officials Friday to delay the resumption of on-campus instruction until the COVID-19 curve flattens. (File)
The state’s largest teacher group urged Texas officials Friday to delay the resumption of on-campus instruction until the COVID-19 curve flattens. (File)(Classroom desk)
Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 3:23 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 10, 2020 at 6:44 PM CDT
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AUSTIN, Texas (KWTX) – The Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest teachers group in the state, urged Texas officials Friday to delay the resumption of on-campus instruction until the COVID-19 curve flattens.

Texas reported nearly 9,800 new cases of the virus Thursday and 105 deaths, marking the first time the daily death toll has exceeded 100.

The ATPE House of Delegates, which crafts the organization’s legislative agenda, voted Thursday to take the action, which the ATPE announced Friday in a Facebook post.

READ THE ATPE STATEMENT

“ATPE is made up of the voices of 100,000 educators statewide, and these educators have together chosen to make their voices heard to ensure the safety of their community in the midst of the global pandemic,” said Executive Director Shannon Holmes.

“All along, ATPE has said that Texas students, parents, and educators deserve to be safe and have a firm understanding of the steps being taken to provide a safe learning environment, and this vote by our members strongly reaffirms our stance.”

The organization wants the state to require districts to include educators and parents in planning for the resumption of in-classroom instruction, allocate funds for substitutes in the event of mandatory quarantine of district personnel and to waive requirements for administration of the 2020-2021 STAAR and Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System or TELPAS tests.

“You can’t learn if you are sick...”

Rick Beaule, president of the Killeen Educator’s Association

Meanwhile Rick Beaule, the president of the Killeen Educator’s Association, which is affiliated with 65,000-member Texas Federation of Teachers, says he also questions the wisdom of rushing a return to the classroom.

“I don’t feel comfortable at all,” he said.

“There really aren’t any guidelines other than get kids into school,” he said.

Under the guidelines the Texas Education Agency has issued, on-campus instruction will be available to students whose parents who prefer their children learn in school.

But parents may also opt for remote learning, although they must agree to commit to it for a full grading period.

Beaule says that means teachers will have to return to school regardless.

"What happens when you get an outbreak? What happens when you have cases?" he asks.

“It’s not that we don’t want to teach in person because we agree wholeheartedly that education in class is the best way to learn,” he says

"But you can't learn if you are sick, you can't learn if you are in the hospital."

Aaron Zimmerman has children who attend Waco schools.

"The numbers are high and they are going to keep getting higher until there is an effective vaccine or treatment," says Zimmerman.

However, he says he would like to see his children get a chance to go back.

“There is no online substitute that completely reproduces what kids learn in person... but we need to make sure we do that in a way that’s as safe as possible,” he says.

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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