UEA Survey: Urban/Rural Divide Among Teachers, Low Support For Work Stoppage

Nov 30, 2020, 6:43 PM | Updated: 9:19 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – While teachers are happy to see students again after the long Thanksgiving weekend, there is “trepidation” about a possible surge in COVID-19 cases, according to officials with the Utah Education Association.

“We want to be in schools with our students with face-to-face learning but we want to be safe, too,” said UEA President Heidi Matthews. “And what is happening right now is not working.”

Matthews said the teachers union was trying to be proactive with its failed request that Governor Gary Herbert move secondary schools in high-transmission areas to online instruction until at least the start of January.

“Because when we’re reactive with this virus people get sick and people die and that’s what we’re trying to avoid,” she said.

After surveying member teachers, the UEA reports an even division between urban and rural teachers in Utah about whether schools should temporarily shift to online learning.

42% of teachers said that all school buildings statewide should close temporarily while another 42% said that those decisions should be made on a local level and that the UEA should not focus on statewide solutions.

One option on the survey asked if the UEA should “organize a statewide job action (such as a ‘sick out’ or other action that would halt work for a day or more) to urge immediate attention by state leaders to the concerns of educations and schools?”

The UEA tells KSL that, overall, only 16% of teachers supported a job action. However, in some urban districts nearly 30% of teachers said they would support a work stoppage. While just 8% of teachers in rural districts said they would support such an action.

Matthews said she is reading over more than 300 pages of comments from Utah teachers and that 88% responded that they are overwhelmed and stressed from the increased workload.

“I can’t even tell you the level of despair,” Matthews said. “The workload is just unsustainable.”

While acknowledging the stress teachers are under this year, Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley said virus transmission in the classroom is very low.

“Last June and July when we were planning for this school year and thought that we would have less than 2% or 3% transmission rate on school property we would have been so excited about those figures,” Horsley said. “So to have that kind of data coming through on our contact tracing is phenomenal.”

Horsley said it’s important to keep in-person learning because families facing poverty do not have the resources to support at-home learning. Also, the district has found that students are socializing when school is not is session.

“It’s very painfully obvious that kids, when they are on these dismissals, that not only does the learning diminish but also their safety,” Horsley said.

There is hope that new, statewide testing requirements for secondary students will help keep track of how the virus is spreading among students.

“With increased testing we can keep sick kids home and we can keep kids who are negative in an effective learning environment,” Horsley said.

Starting Monday, any student or staff involved in extracurricular activities outside of the regular school day will be tested once every two weeks.

“What we learned from the high school football testing is that the types of things that we’ve been preaching for people to do—to wear their masks, to maintain physical distancing—work,” said Tom Hudachko, director of communications for the health department. “And so we hope that we will start to see that as we branch out into other extracurriculars over the next couple weeks.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories


Police officers block Shanghai's Urumqi Road on Sunday. (Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)...
CNN's Beijing bureau and Nectar Gan

Protests erupt across China in unprecedented challenge to Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy

Protests erupted across China throughout the weekend, including at universities and in Shanghai where hundreds chanted "Step down, Xi Jinping! Step down, Communist Party!"
23 hours ago
Salt Lake City Police at the University of Utah Hospital due to a possible bomb threat. (Salt Lake ...
Michael Houck

Police: Unattended bag led to bomb squad response at U of U Hospital

Salt Lake City Police responded to a possible bomb threat at the University of Utah hospital Tuesday afternoon.
13 days ago
Elizabeth Cohen and Naomi Thomas, CNN

COVID-19 medicine for immunocompromised patients is losing effectiveness

Judy Salins considers herself a smart, empowered patient, but until this week, she had no idea that the medicine she takes to defend herself against Covid-19 isn't protecting her as well as it used to.
17 days ago
Paxlovid, the antiviral pill that reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19, also...
Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

Paxlovid reduces risk of long Covid, Veterans Affairs study finds

Paxlovid, the antiviral pill that reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19, also reduces the risk of long Covid, according to a new study by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
22 days ago
President Joe Biden speaks at a Democratic National Committee event at the Howard Theatre on Octobe...
Darlene Superville, Associated Press

Biden to get updated COVID-19 booster shot, promote vaccine

President Joe Biden was scheduled to get his updated COVID-19 booster shot on Tuesday and urge the public to get theirs to ensure a healthy holiday season.
1 month ago
FILE: (L-R) Co-teachers at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 Marisa Wiezel (who is related to the photograp...
Collin Binkley, AP Education Writer

Test scores show historic COVID setbacks for kids across US

New national test results show that the pandemic spared no part of the country as it caused historic learning setbacks for America’s children.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
UEA Survey: Urban/Rural Divide Among Teachers, Low Support For Work Stoppage