Teachers share worries about school reopening plan amid COVID-19


NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — As school districts across the state begin releasing plans to reopen under guidance from the state, teachers say they’re starting to worry.

WWAY spoke with two teachers in New Hanover County under the condition of anonymity. We’ll refer to them as Teacher A and Teacher B.

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“I can’t speak for all teachers for sure, but my personal opinion is until the cases have leveled off in our area, it’s just not safe,” said Teacher A, a middle school teacher.

Teacher B works at a public charter school in the county. She also has concerns about students returning to classrooms.

“I don’t agree with the governor’s plan at all,” she said. “I think it’s way to soon for the schools to be reopening especially because he’s voting down all these other things including gyms and bars and bowling alleys.”

While students with health concerns may have the option to learn from home, teachers are not being given that same opportunity.

“I actually have a friend, a coworker who’s pregnant and she’s really worried,” Teacher B said. “And her school’s not giving her that option at all.”

Teacher A, a single mother, wonders who will watch her child when she’s at home remote learning.

“With my daughter being almost 7, she can’t be home alone ever,” she said. “So I don’t really know, and I certainly don’t have the financial spot where I can just pay somebody to watch her.”

Both believe New Hanover County should stick with remote learning until the number of new COVID-19 cases levels off.

“I feel like we’re just going to end up going backwards,” Teacher B said. “We’re going to go back to school with this hybrid model and then in two weeks, there will be so many teachers and classrooms in quarantine from a few cases that we’re going to have to scale back and go back to being online only anyway.”

They also say teachers should have been able to give more input on reopening plans.

“Teachers were only consulted in a survey, we weren’t in any of the think tank brainstorming meetings,” Teacher B said. “And I think that’s a problem.”

Teacher B also wants to denounce accusations she’s seen on social media that teachers simply don’t want to go back to work.

“Teachers do want to be in school, we do want to be face to face with our kids, that’s why we do what we do,” she said. “It’s certainly not for the money. We just want it to be as safe as possible. And right now it doesn’t feel safe, it feels reckless.”

Teacher B also believes New Hanover County could follow other districts, bringing elementary school students back full time spread out at all schools in the district. She says middle and high school students could learn from home, and in theory wouldn’t need childcare.