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A Month Away From Start Dates, School Districts Still Working Out Reopening Plans

School districts across the state continue to work on their plans for re-opening. But is it safe with coronavirus cases spiking in record numbers? Photo credit: Kerry Sheridan / WUSF Public Media

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School districts across the state continue to work on their plans for re-opening. But is it safe with coronavirus cases spiking in record numbers?

Matthew Hazel is a high school teacher in Orlando and a member of the Orange County Teachers Association.

He said teachers in schools with inadequate ventilation and crowded hallways are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

“Sure, everyone’s gonna wear masks. But if you’re stuck in the same recirculated air for seven hours, I don’t know how safe that can possibly be,” he said.

Hazel was a guest Tuesday on The State We’re In – a Facebook Live show from WUSF and WMFE in Orlando. He was joined by Jeff Solochek,  an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times.

Hazel said some teachers are so concerned that they might choose to retire early or go into a different profession all together.

“They’d like to stay in for a  couple more years to boost their pension or whatever, but they’re looking at the risk of their health and they’re saying, you know, ‘I’m out,’” Hazel said.

Another major concern that will have to be addressed: how to ensure children are not being sent to school sick.

Solochek said coronavirus tests are not being required of students, and it is the parents’ responsibility to make sure their children aren’t sick.

Ensuring that, however, could be difficult.

“A lot of people are saying, ‘Well, I trust my own self and my own kid. But I know that other parent is just gonna put Tylenol down their kids’ throat and send them in anyway,’” Solochek said.

To read more about state and district plans to re-open schools, visit The State We’re In Facebook page.

This story is produced in partnership with American Amplified, an initiative using community engagement to inform local journalism. It is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


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