Teachers Are Pushing Back On In-Person Reopening And Some Districts Are Delaying Starts

Aug 4, 2020

Only weeks from the first day of school, some districts are reversing course and choosing not to have any in-person instruction right away.

Several teachers’ unions are calling on their schools to start the year virtually. Educators in Elmhurst are opposing their district’s back-to-school plan.

Max Schoenberg is the president of the Elmhurst Teachers’ Council. He says Elmhurst District 205’s plan would bring hundreds of students back into its buildings.

It’ll be even more difficult to police social distancing and face coverings with younger students. He said it’ll be hard for educators to go against their instincts and break up elementary students trying to work together.

“If they reopen right now in person, what's joyful about school is something that will probably not be safe,” said Schoenberg.

The first day of school looms around the corner, but he said there are still a lot of unanswered questions. He said teachers are still seeking guidance about both in-person safety and what online instruction will look like.

“How many families are opting for online instruction? How many teachers would prefer online instruction? They have to go through hundreds of medical exemption requests,” he said. “It's a very complicated picture that they have to try to resolve in a very short period of time.”

Schoenberg says teachers can’t prepare because they don’t know if they’ll be working with students in-person and online at the same time.

The request for virtual learning is meant to limit the spread of coronavirus, but it’s also to give the district more time to flesh out instruction plans.

And with Illinois seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and rising positivity rates, Schoenberg is concerned disruptive quarantines will be inevitable.