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Teachers raise concerns about returning to the classroom

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – It’s been a year of uncertainty for students across the Mountain State. But ready or not, students will return to the classroom January 19.

Some teachers, like Jay O’Neal who is a teacher at West Side Middle School, aren’t so sure it’s the right decision.

“It doesn’t seem like a good idea to have all the kids, five days, full time in-person back next week,” O’Neal said.

He’s especially apprehensive about returning after he was exposed to the virus last semester at school and had to quarantine. Like most teachers, O’Neal wants his students to return to the classroom but wants to wait until enough people are vaccinated.

“I think as teachers, we’re all looking at this combined and saying ‘what are we doing?’,” O’Neal explained, “Let’s keep it remote for a few more weeks, get people vaccinated, watch case numbers decline, then go back in person.”

More students are expected in the classroom this semester than last since some failed remote learning. With more students in the classroom and not enough teachers vaccinated, O’Neal is worried social distancing and proper safety precautions won’t be feasible.

“It wasn’t great anyways. I don’t think in any class we really had six feet between children. But now, we’re wondering if we can even have three feet because so many are returning for in-person learning,” he said.

Another concern for faculty comes as the Family First Coronavirus Response Act that passed last year – giving teachers up to 80 hours paid quarantine leave – expired on December 31st.

“I would hate to imagine this but you could imagine some employees coming to work anyways when they’re sick because they have no more days to take,” O’Neal exclaimed.

The Kanawha County Board of Education will meet Wednesday morning to discuss some of the concerns coming in with the upcoming semester.

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