HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Patty Alonso has been a teacher for 27 years. In March when students were sent home because of the pandemic, Alonso and other teachers quickly had to develop online learning plans
“Teachers were almost praised and deemed heroes at the time, which made us feel wonderful,” said Alonso.”
Now, she believes things have changed.
“My feeling is we’re not heroes anymore and they are willing to throw us out there and hope for the best and see what happens,” said Alonso.
She is concerned because Florida is mandating that schools reopen in the fall and bring students back to class. Alonso and other teachers now worry that will only help spread the coronavirus.
“Social distancing in a classroom setting is not possible, there is not enough time in between classes to go through and clean everything. I mean these kids, they share books, they share supplies, they share everything. I mean, am I supposed to be a custodian and a teacher?” said Alonso.
Despite the concern, President Trump is threatening to pull federal funding if schools don’t reopen in the fall and that concerns the Florida Education Association who says not enough is being done at schools across the state to keep students, staff, and faculty safe.
“We know that students are impacted by this, they carry the coronavirus, they may give it to others and then, of course, the people who work in our schools being in tight, close-quarters what happens if someone gets coronavirus, how are they contact tracing it, what kind of testing is going to happen,” said Andrew Spar with the Florida Education Association.
Spar says schools are being reopened to help the economy, not because it’s safe to do so.
“Right now if things continue on the path they are on, there is no safe way to bring kids back into in the school,” said Spar.
Spar believes teachers will be asked to pay for additional cleaning supplies out of their own pockets and there is no current plan to fund additional cleaning crews and cleaning supplies for schools.
“How do you make sure we are doing the social distancing, the cleaning, the handwashing. We’ve heard from schools about how schools run out of soap or out of paper towels. What is that going to mean for your child’s school? These are vital questions and it does come down to funding, funding does matter,” said Spar.
The Hillsborough County school system says they are working on plans for staff and students to reopen schools safely. The first day back to school in Hillsborough County is Aug. 10.
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