[Opinion] Teachers should not be forced to physically return to school


MSD teachers, like Dr. Jacob Abraham, have been required to return to school despite the rise in COVID-19 cases. Photo by Mariajose Vera

Ethan Lin, Writer

At the start of e-Learning, both students and teachers had the choice of either going to school physically or attending from home. However, recently some schools in Broward County have enforced mandates that require teachers to return to physical school. While they can request to stay home if they do not have a reason good enough then their request will be denied.

If someone were to go to school in person, they would be putting themselves at risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus and most likely spreading it to their families as well. When a risk could be potentially life-threatening, forcing someone to take that risk is not right.

Some of the teachers being forced to return to school or their families may have medical issues, yet the teachers have no choice but to go back, or else they might lose their jobs.

Joy Tucker, a teacher at the International Leadership of Texas Charter School, is pregnant. That means if she were to go to school in person, she not only puts herself at risk but her baby as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Some research suggests that pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to have a premature birth.”

Despite this, her school is still forcing her to return. If she doesn’t, Tucker must use the rest of her paid leave. However, the baby will not be born until several months later and she also needs time to recover after giving birth. Teachers only get a few days of paid leave and a couple of weeks of maternity leave. However, this is still not enough time for her to give birth and recover. Plus, during this time, she is much more susceptible to the virus. 

Even if a teacher has already tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered, they are still not fully immune from the virus. According to the Scientific American, “Viruses are constantly mutating. Those that trigger pandemics have enough novelty that the human immune system does not quickly recognize them as dangerous invaders.”

If the virus were to mutate to the point where people who tested positive for it before are no longer immune, then that is even more of a reason not to force teachers to go back to school physically.

Even if the virus has not mutated much, a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 is only immune for a limited time. According to the CDC, “The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.”

Teachers will be faced with a difficult choice. Give up their job for their safety, or put themselves in a dangerous position. If they choose to quit, the school will then have to find new replacement teachers who are willing to teach in person.

Students still have the choice of either learning from home or going to school physically, and so should their teachers. The majority of students choose to stay home, and in each classroom, there are only about a handful of students present in person.

If every student in the class was present in the classroom, then a teacher would need to be present. As online learning makes class sizes extremely small, it is not necessary for the teacher to be there.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, “Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco and some board members said it’s ridiculous to make teachers return since 80% of children are learning remotely. Some of these teachers have only two or three students in a class.”

Driving all the way to the school, staying seven hours only to teach an almost empty class and driving back at the end of the day is a waste of time, money and energy. With this in consideration, teachers should not be required to go back to their brick-and-mortar schools.