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Martin County teacher says full capacity schools aren't safe because of coronavirus

School district gives parents option of traditional education, virtual learning
Kim Davis
Posted at 3:02 PM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 19:06:52-04

STUART, Fla. — The Martin County School District laid out its plan Tuesday for reopening schools in August.

Parents will be given two options: children can show up for school in person or they can opt out and sign up for virtual classes.

MORE: Working parents concerned about back-to-school plans

Martin County Superintendent Laurie Gaylord said Tuesday that "many parents want their children in school every day."

Gaylord said the virtual experience will provide the same educational experience as the children in the classroom.

All students attending school will have to undergo temperature checks and will be required to wear masks among other safety precautions.

But how do Martin County teachers feel about going back to school in the fall?

Kim Davis, a veteran teacher of 20 years, said the coronavirus has changed everything.

She and many of her colleagues have been losing sleep over the coming school year.

"Schools at full capacity do not make for a safe environment, for the students [and] for us," said Davis.

As a parent, Davis won’t be sending her daughter back to high school in person. She is choosing the online option.

"To be honest with you, I think most of us are trying to figure out how we would not contract the virus all day," said Davis.

"Our staff and students are our No. 1 resource, so their safety is our priority," said Julie Sessa, the coordinator of risk and employee benefits for the Martin County School District.

Sessa said after this week's directive from Tallahassee to fully open schools, the district compiled a list of 10 risk mitigation strategies that follow CDC guidelines.

This includes wearing masks, temperature checks and spaced out desks.

"We can’t eliminate COVID-19 anywhere where we take our staff, our students or our families. But at school, we’re doing our best to mitigate that risk," said Sessa.

Sessa said teachers will be part of a future town hall meeting to allow them a forum to ask questions. There will also be added training between now and the start of school.

Sessa said the school district compiled a list of 10 risk mitigation strategies that follow CDC guidelines.

"Primarily stay home when you’re sick, that's No. 1. No. 2, we are requiring masks," said Sessa.

Teacher Ryan Perez said he is leaving the Treasure Coast after six years as a social studies teacher.

"This virus doesn’t diminish my passion as a teacher," said Perez.

While the coronavirus wasn't the only reason, it was a factor.

"I do have a concern over the welfare of teachers, the safety of teachers,” said Perez.

Davis said she may have already taught her last class.

"We want to be there for them, but if you're going to practice social distancing in your job, please allow us to be as safe," said Davis.

As of Wednesday, there have been 2,503 cases of the coronavirus in Martin County with 34 deaths.