School District Of Philadelphia Educators Fear They’re Being Asked To ‘Teach Students To Death’ By Reopening Schools In Fall

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — At least 100 people are expected to comment tonight as the Philadelphia School Board meets. Some of them will be union officials who are concerned about the health and safety plan for the upcoming school year.

The primary concerns will be dealing with COVID-19, asbestos and lead  — a triple threat that has left many with anxiety.

For some educators, there is a lot of anticipation and fear for the upcoming school year.

“I can’t trust them with following the guidelines they set up,” said one Philadelphia school teacher.

We’re hiding the identity of the teacher, who is hesitant to go back to on-campus learning. He doesn’t think the district is ready to address non-compliant students who may refuse to wear a mask.

“Let’s be honest, teachers are getting assaulted left and right by students, students are getting assaulted left and right by students and not much happens in the school district, so how are we supposed to feel confident that they’re going to address that when it comes up?” the teacher asked.

District officials say they have been working to come up with solutions.

Families have two choices for now — to attend Digital Academy or hybrid classes with up to two days of in-person instruction. But they are being warned to choose wisely.

“They can participate the entire year but the entry and exit points are important,” said Philadelphia School District Chief Academic Supports Officer Malika Savoy-Brooks.

Right now, schools are being deep cleaned. Once buildings are occupied, touchpoints will be sanitized throughout the day.

“Building staff are undergoing training on high-touch disinfecting that will happen in all buildings at least every four hours using EPA registered, verified cleaners in all of our buildings,” said Alicia Prince, the school district’s interim chief of facilities and capital programs.

It will take an effort on all fronts.

“This is not solely dependent just on custodial staff. It’s going to take all of us in schools to also make sure surfaces and things that are in constant contact are also wiped down,” Superintendent Dr. William Hite said.

The union representing school principals says there is much staff anxiety over the return to class and feel that they are literally being asked to potentially “teach students to death” by forcing them back into school environments that will not be safe.