Students in masks? Sick kids staying home? Teachers aren’t convinced plans will keep them safe.

Students in masks? Sick kids staying home? Teachers aren’t convinced plans will keep them safe.

The plans are also just unrealistic, teachers say. They can’t envision students maintaining social distance, keeping masks on, or walking in the same directions in hallways, all things health officials are recommending. Even before the pandemic, teachers said, their schools struggled to keep ample soap and water running in the bathrooms. “It does make me nervous to say no,” said Lara, a high school teacher at a Los Angeles charter school who is immunocompromised. (Worried about her job, she spoke on the condition that she be identified only by her first name.) “Of course schools need to reopen, but at what point are you being sacrificed?” For all the plans to reopen schools, from masked kids to staggered schedules to half-empy buses, few address what to do with at-risk teachers. But one strong advocate of a return to normalcy this fall has at least brought it up: President Trump said that schools “should be opened ASAP,” and that older teachers may just need to stay home. John P. Bailey, co-author of the American Enterprise study, said this is an unprecedented scenario and that the plan would protect older teachers. Given the economy, he is unsure how many teachers would even want this option; districts should also find new, less risky roles for those teachers. But retirement incentives are worth exploring, he said. “They are being squeezed on both ends,” Bailey said of school districts. “They are having these teachers who cannot come to school. And they are also having to find teachers who are ...
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