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Survey: 60% Of Canyons Teachers Uncomfortable Returning To Classroom

Jul 22, 2020, 8:05 PM | Updated: Jul 30, 2020, 3:16 pm

SANDY, Utah – More than half of the teachers in the Canyons School District said they are uncomfortable returning to full-time, in-person teaching, according to a survey by the Canyons Education Association.

“It’s not that teachers don’t want to be in the classroom, because we do,” said Erika Bradshaw, a teacher at Hillcrest High School and president of the district’s teacher union.

The association’s survey indicated that 60 percent of teachers are not comfortable going back to the classroom as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Utah.

“We care about our students. We care about their education,” Bradshaw went on to say. “We just want to make sure that we can return safely.”

Bradshaw said this survey is more revealing than the district’s questionnaire, which found that nearly all teachers are planning to return to in-classroom teaching in the fall.

“When they sent out their survey, it was just, ‘Are you coming back? Yes or no?’” Bradshaw said. “You may say that you want to have your job — because we do want to stay employed — but how comfortable are you doing your job?”

A spokesperson for the district said even though 98 percent of the 1,399 teachers who responded to its survey indicated their positive intent to return in the fall, many did express reservations.

“We’re happy to listen to their concerns and respond and engage in a thoughtful dialogue,” said Jeff Haney with the Canyons School District. “We have teachers expressing concern but we also have heard from teachers saying that they want to come back to the classroom.”

The surveys come as the district releases its “Back-to-School Action Plan” with options for students to select in-person or distance learning options.

The district’s survey showed 33 percent of teachers were interested in applying for online teaching positions instead of returning to the traditional classroom. Haney said they won’t know how many positions are available until students register next week.

“It may well be that 30 to 40 percent of our students choose an online learning option,” Haney said

For teachers and students that do come back to the physical schools, Haney said the district is spending roughly $1 million on cleaning supplies and personal protection equipment.

But Bradshaw said teachers are dealing with unrealistic expectations.

“Our schools are simply not set up for social distancing,” she said. “It’s not possible with the class sizes that we have.”

She wants the school board to listen to teachers and adapt their plan until Utah gets a better handle on the pandemic.

“I feel like we are all trying to do our best, but the situation with cases in Utah right now is really not optimal for what they’re asking us to do,” Bradshaw said.

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Survey: 60% Of Canyons Teachers Uncomfortable Returning To Classroom