HOUSTON - Dozens of HISD teachers are said to have called out sick today. Why? The teachers say they love what they do but in the pandemic they want to make sure they're doing it safely. So the teachers called in sick and went to be tested for COVID-19 instead of going to work.
"The goal is student's safety, community safety in that order,” says HISD High School Teacher Miguel Reyes.
The teachers who called out believe in-school instruction right now is unsafe for them and students. "They're only required to be 3 feet apart,” Reyes says.
“And then the windows are soldered shut so we don't have any airflow. So it's just stale air circulating,” adds HISD Middle School Teacher Rachel Nash.
"There are occasions in which you'll have to be unmasked, I mean in order to eat,” explains Reyes.
So the group of educators is asking for several changes including better ventilation systems, requiring meals to be eaten outside and keeping everyone 6 feet apart.
"I take care of my elderly family members. I live at the same address as them and so I'm worried about getting sick and bringing that back to my family. I'm also a single mom,” says Nash
Some students are also concerned. "I just stood in the back. I didn't want to be by anybody,” explains 15-year-old Edward DeLeon.
“It's not the social interaction that everybody wants,” says Nash.
DeLeon agrees, saying there was limited socializing and interacting. He wants to go back to virtual learning. The HISD Freshman describes his first day in high school as being consumed with hoping no one coughed or had COVID-19. "Say you're in a classroom with that person and they suddenly (coughing sound). You never know,” says the teenager.
In a statement, HISD says "As the Houston Independent School District continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain focused on providing our students with a high-quality education while ensuring that the health, safety and well-being of both our students and staff are held to the highest standard. Face-to-face instruction will continue to occur with safety measures in place in accordance with guidelines provided by the CDC, state and local health authorities. The health, safety and well-being of our students and staff remains our top priority as we work to meet the educational needs of all families in the district".