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TUSD Board candidates talk positions on returning to school

Posted at 9:41 PM, Oct 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 01:38:58-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Three of the seven total candidates will soon serve as governing board members for the Tucson Unified School District.

The top issue presented to them: the pandemic and ensuring the safety of students and, in-particular, educators.

This as the district weighs options to open campuses again.

"I worked with online teachers, special-ed teachers, principals. They were all online. There is that possibility if they don't want to be in the classroom, we've got great resources," said candidate, Cristina Mennella.

Businessman Nick Pierson said the governing board should have a plan ready for returning to campus.

"We've got to least in the short run, accommodate the teachers and use the virtual environment, but eventually we've got to get back to everybody being in the classroom."

Candidate Adam Ragan, who said he was formerly an educator, says teacher safety should be priority.

"When you ask teachers to come back to the classroom without a safe plan to ensure their safety, you're putting them at risk in a way that's unacceptable."

That sentiment was echoed by candidates Sadie Shaw and Natalie Luna Rose.

"I think that we need to have options and they need to based on consent and so if teachers do not feel safe going back then we should not force them," Shaw said.

"A lot of them are parents, a lot of them have families. They take care of people in their lives that have health issues, so there should not be any penalizing of teachers who aren't comfortable going back to the classroom," Rose said.

Cindy Winston, who said she was a science teacher, said middle and high schools have the resources for distance learning while expressing concerns about elementary schools.

"The challenge here for me is when I'm trying to figure out how to take things off the plate is for our elementary school teachers and our elective teachers who are just being run ragged."

Ravi Grivois-Shah, a medical doctor, said the district could do a better job inspiring the confidence of its educators.

"Our teachers and educators and staff, they're scared. They need reassurance from our district that we're going to get this right and I don't think we've heard this yet."

Click here to see video of the forum