TUCSON, Ariz. — A survey was sent to Tucson Unified School District parents and staff asking for their input on returning to school, which consisted of three questions for parents and seventeen questions for staff.
For parents, it's all about comfort levels when it comes to returning to school.
“We provided a description of remote and hybrid learning. We asked them what is their preference and then the other one was asking if they were to choose an order of ranking -- if they stayed remote, did they want to stay with their current teacher, or would they be comfortable switching? If they chose the hybrid model, would they stay want to stay with their current teachers, or be comfortable and switching teachers?” explained Leslie Lenhart, TUSD director of communications.
The clock is ticking for parents to fill out the survey that is due Wednesday.
“It will help us be able to ensure we were scheduling and preparing teachers for how they're [going] to come back. As we know, some teachers are hoping to stay remote, [but] much of it depends on how many students are back in all the classrooms," she added.
Teachers were also sent a survey to fill out, with one notable question on the survey asking what employees plan to do if they are not authorized to stay at home, once hybrid learning begins.
This is the second time teachers have been asked to fill out a survey like this. The first time was at the beginning of the school year. The results showed a majority of teachers were not comfortable returning to the classroom.
"I would say, a larger percentage of teachers were not comfortable coming back. They wanted to remain remote," explained Lenhart.
The district is also hosting town halls with their teachers.
“It's for them to do two things— one, to for our middle and high school teachers to provide feedback on how we manage the schedules because their various schedule options since those students rotate from class to class. The other one is for teachers to give input on the hybrid model and what things they would like to see as far as part of it,” she said.
KGUN9 reached out to the Tucson Education Association who is focused on safety first.
No one wants to be back in the classroom with our students more than educators. We love our students, our schools, our communities, and that is why we need to do this right. The health and safety of our students, families, and educators must be the primary driver of when it is safe to re-open school buildings.
The TUSD hybrid plan is more of an outline at this point. As a member of the committee that worked on it, there are still many unanswered questions regarding such things as student-teacher ratios, social distancing during passing periods, and supervision during lunches. There is a committee forming this week to help iron out many of those issues and questions so we will not have anything definite until the end of the week or early next week.
As of the last board meeting, the TUSD board agreed to meet on Oct 6th in order to look at the metrics from PCHD regarding a safe return. TEA agrees that we must listen to the health experts and their assessments of the rates of infections to determine when the virus is sufficiently contained to proceed with reopening, and even then, we must follow medical precautions to prevent infections in schools. In addition, given that fall break will take place just before the 19th of October, we would say the hybrid reopening date remains flexible.
Right now, due to the economic crisis brought forth by this pandemic, we have already lost nearly one million education jobs, and another 2 million more are at risk across the country. Funding has fallen off a cliff. We want to open schools but we cannot bring students back to the classroom if we don’t get the support from the Senate to do it safely and to make sure they have what they need to succeed.
The results of the surveys will be ready before the next TUSD governing board meeting on October 6.