JUPITER, Fla. — Several teachers at Jupiter Community High School say that after weeks of teaching remotely, they are being notified by their principal that they have to return to in-person instruction.
Teachers who have been granted remote work because of their health issues have known the remote assignments were not permanent.
But in just a few weeks, the COVID-19 concerns have not changed and neither have their diagnoses. Yet some are being told they can no longer be accommodated remotely.
Carrie Anderson teaches English to more to nearly 150 11th and 12th graders at Jupiter Community High School. She also runs the largest community service clubs at the school, and has been doing it all remotely.
"I'm an insulin dependent diabetic, and matter of fact, as recently as Thursday I was hospitalized because my blood sugar has not been stable," Anderson said.
Andersen said she also suffers from an autoimmune disease and asthma. Her health issues were the reason she’s been granted remote work at her school.
But now Anderson said she and five other teachers working remotely were told because of count day adjustments, they can no longer be permitted to work remotely.
"Those of us that are remote teaching have no intention of going back into the building. Nothing has changed for our health. There are no more safety precautions. It is not safer," Anderson said. "So this is truly just forcing us into an unpaid leave situation which teachers can’t afford to do."
Dr. Colleen Iannitti, the principal of Jupiter Community High School, explains the school had a significant reduction in enrollment this year, losing six teaching positions and 12 clerical positions, and said she can no longer accommodate remote assignments. The principal also said starting next week, 50% of their students will be on campus.
Dr. Iannitti sent this statement to WPTV on Wednesday:
"Currently, Jupiter High School has one of the highest percentages of students attending Brick and Mortar in the district. Next week, approximately 50% of our students will be on campus. As the instructional leader of Jupiter High School, it is my responsibility to ensure that I maintain a safe campus and meet the educational and emotional needs of every student.
Jupiter High had a significant decline in enrollment this year. As a result, we lost six teaching positions and two clerical positions. Unfortunately, I can no longer accommodate remote working assignments for educators.
I am unable to continue to both supervise the Brick and Mortar students for faculty who are working remotely, and provide coverage for teachers who are out sick. It is in the best interest of Jupiter High School students to have all of their educators working on campus.
To add further context, it’s important to note that employees were notified by the Palm Beach County School District, early on, that remote work opportunities, created at the school level, are based on remote work opportunities available for eligible members of staff.
Employees were also made aware that remote work assignments are subject to change based upon the needs of the individual schools. There is no guarantee as to remote work, or the length of time an employee may be permitted to continue to work remotely.
While it is the District's goal to accommodate employees who request remote assignments, accommodating these requests is subject to change based on necessity.
Employees who are not comfortable returning at this time may explore other options including using sick/medical leave or applying for unpaid personal leave."
Andersen said, at last check, 84% of her students are learning remotely.