HOUSTON - A number of school employees have concerns about returning to campus for the new school year. Some workers say going back to a building for school this fall is unnecessarily gambling with lives.
"It's unsafe. That's the main concern,” says Andy Dewey with the Houston Federation of Teachers.
Just as one teacher asked, would you feel safe inside a school bus or confined in a classroom with 20 to 30 different students arriving every hour and no one knows if someone is infected with COVID-19?
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"There is a definite possibility for the number of cases to increase exponentially even just on one campus. My classes tend to be 30 to 35 students,” says HISD 11th grade English Literature Teacher Coretta Mallet-Fontenot, who's been with the district for more than 20 years.
"Social distancing with kids who haven't seen each other for months, they're not going to social distance. Masks will be on sometimes, masks will be off sometimes. The disease will spread,” said Dewey.
“What's going to happen in the cafeteria? What about in the restrooms? Think about the hallways when kids pass down the hallways, grabbing door handles when you enter in and out of classrooms, touching the desks. When students pass classes, other students are going to be coming in entering those spaces,” says Mallet-Fontenot.
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"Some of us might die from it because our immune system may not be as strong as others,” says Lizzie Revels, who has been an HISD bus driver for more than 30 years.
She's diabetic and is concerned about catching COVID-19 so she mostly stays home unless work forces her out.
“It's still too soon. It's not getting better, it's getting worse,” says Revels.
"I just don't feel like it's worth it to put people's lives at risk that way. Then students are going to go home and take it to their parents and grandparents,” adds Mallet-Fontenot.
“Because it can't be done safely the better option is to do virtual learning. Now there are drawbacks on that too. Kids without proper technology, homeless kids. They're going to get left behind to some degree, but you know what we can catch those kids up. The only kids we can't catch up are the ones who die of COVID,” says Dewey.
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Houston ISD is expected to announce its back to school plan on Wednesday.