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Teachers union struggles to convince Gov. Carney in-person school would be dangerous

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The Delaware State Education Association’s call for a fully virtual start to the school year has gotten support from some lawmakers.


But the state’s largest teachers union is still trying to convince Gov. John Carney.

The DSEA wants the state to spend at least six weeks at the start of year using remote learning.


The union’s concerns center on health and safety. Of the 4,400 teachers it surveyed, nearly 90 percent expressed concern about their own health and even more worry about their family's health, students' health and the health of their fellow teachers.


DSEA president Stephanie Ingram says she talked with Gov. Carney about why they believe opening in a hybrid model would be dangerous to students and teachers, but he told her he believes it’s the best way moving forward.


Ingram says not enough has been answered about how teachers and schools will manage children in a pandemic climate.


“We don’t know what we don’t know and we don’t have enough answers and we don’t feel confident enough to move out of remote learning,” she said. “And until we get the answers to again, other questions like; what are we doing for personal protective equipment, keeping our classrooms clean and how often do you take your kids to wash their hands. Just those little, detailed questions that teachers don’t have answers to. Those are the ones keeping me up at night.”


Ingram adds the DSEA is using the support it’s received from both the House and Senate Democratic leadership to continue pushing to keep students and teachers at home for the start of the school year.


Some school districts, like Brandywine, Appoqunimink, Caesar Rodney and Milford have chosen to delay the start of the school year.


Ingram thinks that’s a sign schools and educators need more time to prepare for every eventuality before they open schools back up to students.


“All of our educators need to see the district plan, to look at it and to see how it affects what they do day to day. Is that districts plan a feasible plan, will it make sense, does it work,” Ingram said. “If not, they need time to be able to give that feedback back to the district so that can be taken into consideration.”


Ingram says until more planning takes place, the union will continue to support remote learning.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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