Wake County Schools

Wake educators express concern about upcoming year

Posted July 22, 2020 6:34 p.m. EDT
Updated July 22, 2020 6:35 p.m. EDT

— When the Wake County Public School System joined other districts Tuesday in deciding to start the school year with online learning only, officials put together a plan detailing how schools would transition later to a mix of classroom and remote instruction.

But that left at least one member of the school board asking, "Will teachers be ready, and will they be safe?"

School board member Jim Martin said he's been receiving a lot of emails.

"Teachers are asking lots of questions," Martin said Wednesday. "We don't know what this means for us. When will we come back? What will our expectations be?"

Martin supported the district's new plan to return to learning by starting online before transitioning into the classroom. But he has some reservations about his “yes” vote.

He said there are not enough answers for teachers and other staff about what this means for them as they also plan for the year ahead.

"People just don't seem to worry about this because they know teachers will do the work unpaid and uncompensated," said Martin.

Cecilia Joyce, who teaches in a Wake County middle school, said she’s prepared herself for a school year where everything can change.

"We want things to be set and settled, and we want to know what that is going to look like. But that is not what this pandemic allows us to do all the time," she said.

That is why she also supports the new transitional Wake County plan to begin the year.

So does Megan Wing, a first-grade teacher.

"I absolutely want to be back in school with my students. The problem is it is not just safe right now just yet," said Wing.

Wing explained that, in order to feel safe returning to school, safety measures and protocols need to be in place, and that costs money.

"It is not only the time. It is not only the resources. It is not only the time to collaborate, but I think it is the funding that needs to be included right now," said Wing.

A petition online directed at the governor and the General Assembly calls for that funding to protect schools. It also includes demands for hazard pay and full medical insurance for those working in higher-risk roles and protections for workers who can’t risk their health or the health of their families.

The petition has already been signed thousands of times.

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