TODAY: Jefferson Parish teachers prepare to head back to school

TODAY: Jefferson Parish teachers prepare to head back to school
Jefferson Parish Public School teachers return to their classrooms after weeks of voicing concerns about the district’s reopening plans. (Source: WVUE FOX 8)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Jefferson Parish Public School teachers return to their classrooms Monday after weeks of voicing concerns about the district’s reopening plans.

Jefferson Parish Schools say it has weighed the input from workers and the community and its plans have not changed.

Days of rallies in Jefferson Parish and the governor’s mansion can be seen as a carbon copy of what’s happening around the country, even in neighboring Mississippi where one school had its first positive COVID-19 case during the first week back.

“We know exactly how much districts got, but the problem is that districts can hold on to this money until September of 2022. That makes no sense,” said Mississippi teacher Max Vanlandingham.

Teachers calling on their districts to put money from the CARES Act to good use, by creating better safety measures or by pushing back the start of school.

“I cannot fit 25 people in my room if we’re all spaced 6 feet apart because it’s 6 feet and I’ll direct that’s not just 6 feet left to right,” said Tian Buzbee.

Others like parish president Cynthia Lee Sheng have also pitched pushing the start of classes back until after Labor Day.

As teachers are expected back in the classroom on Monday, the Jefferson Federation of Teachers penned a letter to the state’s largest school district with 165 questions that they say have not been fully answered.

“We would like to see a significant decrease in cases because as we know if we start bringing people back together schools can potentially be the new hotspot,” said Kesler Camese-Jones, President of the Jefferson Federation of Teachers.

The Jefferson Parish School system recently put out a statement saying that the safety of students and employees is a ‘top responsibility.’

They also said their reopening plan was put together with input from employees and the community. And the plans to reopen August 12 to students, at this point, haven’t changed.

“Our educators want to be with their students that’s their first priority they want to be in person with their students but they want to make sure they’re there when it’s safe,” Camese-Jones said.

“It feels like if you’re fighting for the lives of your students you’ll do anything,” said teacher Tian Buzbee.

School officials say at this point, more than 13,000 families have opted in for virtual learning, which would make up around 40 percent of students in the district, and union leaders say while it’s not out of the question, there are no current plans for a strike.

The Jefferson Federation of Teachers says it met with the superintendent today, on school reopening plans. So far, no changes, have been announced.

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