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Pinellas Co. parents concerned as teachers union, school district discuss simultaneous teaching

Pinellas County

LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) – For a few hours Monday evening, the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association met with Pinellas County School District leaders for a bargaining meeting in an effort to bring educators relief from simultaneous teaching. Instead, the teachers union said they left more frustrated than when they went in.

The teachers union said many educators are feeling angry and defeated about having to teach kids in person and online at the same time.

But Monday night, district representatives told the teachers union they don’t necessarily believe that, they said they know many who are handling it fine.

The school district agreed to consider doing a survey of teachers and said they also wanted to do a focus group to hear feedback from teachers.

Some teachers fed up with the process are working to eliminate simultaneous teaching, but that has some parents concerned.

“It’s been a very difficult start,” Barbra Walker said.

Walker’s daughter Lonnie is a sophomore at East Lake High School and is doing My PCS Online.

She said her quality of education is suffering from online learning, but she knows teachers are trying their very best.

“They’ve done a good job to make her feel included,” Walker said.

“It’s very typical of teachers to make things as easy as possible for the students, they always put the students first,” Nancy Velardi said, the president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association.

Velardi said despite trying to ease the burden for students, many teachers are struggling,

She said more than 2000 people have signed a PCTA petition to end simultaneous teaching. She said they are still hoping for more signatures.

“I’m seeing that it’s getting worse, they’re getting more and more bogged down, they simply can’t keep up so they’re getting very frustrated,” Velardi said.

In the bargaining meeting Monday, PCTA suggested re-doing schedules to make solely in-person classes and virtually grouping students by school or county which could lead to students changing teachers by the end of the week through the end of October.

“The whole thing makes me nervous, I think changing teachers after doing an online nine-week start at this point to change would not be good for students,” Walker said.

The school district said in the meeting that they don’t financially have the funds to pull that off in a way that wouldn’t overcrowd face-to-face classrooms.

The district also said they never told the union that simultaneous teaching would be a “rarity” but said they would have to agree to disagree with the teachers union on that point.

The school district agreed to do a survey and focus group to hear from teachers directly, but wouldn’t set a deadline on when they would have that done by.

School district leaders said they will discuss a deadline for the potential survey and for the focus group at Tuesday’s workshop meeting.

For more about when decisions will be made and how students and teachers could be impacted, stay tuned to WFLA on-air and online.

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