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Colorado teachers express concerns getting back inside the classroom as coronavirus cases increase

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Posted at 10:48 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 01:27:26-04

DENVER — Colorado teachers are expressing concerns as school districts have started to release plans to have kids go back into the classroom, even as the state sees an uptick in the number of coronavirus cases.

"One of the biggest frustrations is (that) we have some many more questions than we do answers," said Rachel Sandoval, a second and third grade math and science teacher at Godsman Elementary.

Sandoval says she, like many teachers, want to get back to the classroom, just under the right conditions.

"It’s not that we don’t want to work, it’s that we want to keep ourselves safe and our students (safe)," she said.

Sandoval has concerns, especially when it comes to her students wearing masks in the summer.

"My first thought was heat mitigation. It’s something we battle every year. I teach on the second floor and I have one of the hottest rooms in the building. It’s 95, 96° and then when you’re talking about children being in masks in those temperatures, there is no way to learn," Sandoval said.

Amie Baca-Oehlert is President of the Colorado Education Association, representing 39,000 educators around the state.

"Because of those unknowns and the uncertainty that we are faced with, educators are concerned. There’s a lot of fear and anxiety," Baca-Oehlert said.

That's why the Colorado Education Association released their expectations to all 178 school districts including: Calling for teacher involvement in policies, specific health and safety protocols and COVID-19 data transparency for decision making.

In response, Denver Public Schools released this statement:

“We are eager and excited to safely welcome students and teachers back into the classroom this fall. Our planning has always and will continue to be based on the guidance we receive from our health experts. And our planning has always and will continue to include close collaboration with our principal and teacher led Return to School Workgroup and with union leadership. The educational, emotional, mental and social needs of students depend on opening our doors to full, in-person learning. We’ve worked with educators, school leaders and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to put a plan in place that will allow us to safely resume in-person classes and minimize the risk the students and staff. We remain in close contact with health officials, and if health guidance and risk factors change, our plans will change accordingly.”