HISD Teachers Need Your Support

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HISD is planning a change in the COVID policy for teachers and staff starting in January.  If teachers have symptoms or are exposed to COVID outside of school, they will no longer be allowed to quarantine at home and continue teaching.  After using the 10 COVID days (if extended after Dec. 31st), they will have to use their own leave days and will NOT be allowed to teach virtually from home.  This means that the teacher will need to make a lesson plan for a substitute (who are already in short supply, and who will most likely end up being another teacher who is forced to give up their planning period), and the lesson will have to be something easy for the substitute to implement.  Students will lose out on the rigor given by their teacher due to this new policy.  If the teacher quarantines for the full time, this would mean that students will lose out on 7-10 days of live lessons.  Usually when a substitute runs the class, students are simply given a link to the lesson and must complete it on their own, without the benefit of having the teacher available via TEAMS to ask for help.

Why is this wrong?

1. Students will lose live teaching sessions from highly qualified teachers.  This will be a detriment to them, in an already difficult learning environment, as they will be completing less rigorous assignments with no direct instruction from their teacher. For STAAR tested and AP tested subjects this is especially troubling as these tests are still scheduled for the end of the year, and yet the students will be missing out on the extensive instruction they would normally receive. The students will also lose consistency in an already inconsistent year; students have bonded with their teachers and have gotten used to their style of instruction and delivery, which would now be taken away from them. 

2.  Some teachers have to work a second job, where they may be exposed to COVID through no fault of their own. Teachers will have to decide between staying home if they have symptoms, or going to school so that they can continue to teach their class and not have to use leave days.  Teachers who don't have enough leave days will be forced to stay home and go without pay or go into school and expose others.  Teachers who are forced to use their days due to possible exposure are then left without days they may need to use for regular doctor visits, or for their own sick child. Teachers who have used up their days and are forced to remain home without pay will now be put into a position of financial difficulty. 

3.  What if contact tracing isn't done right and teachers are exposed at school without their knowledge?   How will teachers prove where they were exposed? Checking for temperatures is not an accurate gauge on whether or not a person has the virus as many people do not exhibit symptoms yet they are still contagious. Not to mention that the district Covid dashboard has already shown to be erroneous and that contract tracing isn’t 100% accurate.

Teachers are showing up; teaching face to face students and virtual students at the same time; creating and recreating lessons that are digital-friendly and yet maintain the rigor required in a “normal” school year; they are working harder than they have ever worked before; all while risking their health, and the health of their families, to do so.  This is an unfair and punitive policy for both teachers and students.  

We demand that HISD retracts this policy and no longer requires teachers to use their personal days if quarantined, and that they continue to allow teachers who contract COVID or are exposed to COVID to work virtually if they are healthy and able to do so.