TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Since many schools began reopening their campuses, members of the Texas State Teachers Association have reported hundreds of violations of COVID-19 safety guidelines.
The report has reinforced TSTA’s concerns about the safety of school employees, students and their families.
In an online survey, 664 TSTA members from 135 districts around the state reported a variety of district practices and including personnel policies, which violate guidelines for school safety during this health emergency.
“The biggest issue our members are raising involves inadequate accommodations for high-risk employees or those with high-risk dependents at home. These teachers with underlying health conditions should be allowed to teach remotely from home, but in many cases they are being required to teach from their classrooms or risk losing their jobs. Other major concerns are inadequate staffing to carry out the new safety measures and inadequate, short-sighted sick leave policies that discourage anyone from staying home. Consider these problems together, and we can see that some districts are not committed to keeping potentially sick employees from coming to work, where they could infect other employees and students. Districts are telling employees to self-screen for COVID symptoms but then establishing personnel policies and practices that discourage employees from being rigorous about it. This is very bad policy that ignores the reality of this health crisis.”Ovidia Molina, President of Texas State Teacher Association
The most common issues cited by the TSTA were problems with ventilation and social distancing in classrooms.
The report states that many of the buildings in the schools have had inadequate HVAC systems.
Some of the classrooms have sealed windows preventing fresh air ventilation that health experts recommend as a preventative against this air-borne disease.
Many districts classrooms that are too small to keep the recommended safe distances among students and have made little effort to comply with social distancing guidelines.
The TSTA also has received a large number of reports from its members about violations of the governor’s mask order in schools and inadequate personal protective equipment and sanitation supplies.
Here are the numbers of violations of safety issues reported by TSTA members:
- Non-compliance with mask mandate 246
- Inadequate classroom social distancing 385
- Inadequate ventilation or ventilation equipment 401
- Inadequate protective supplies (masks, etc.) 357
- Inadequate access to cleaning/sanitation supplies 243
- Insufficient accommodations for high-risk school employees or family members 435
- Lack of school quarantine space or process 247
- Inadequate or inequitable availability of distance-learning resources for students 238
- Inadequate district sick leave policies 337
- Inadequate mitigation policies for lunch or transportation 255
- Lack of health/safety policy enforcement 268
- Insufficient staffing for new measures and protocols 370