UEA asks Gov. Herbert to delay students,’ teachers’ return to school buildings

Teachers outside the state Capitol on July 23, 2020, protest the lack of safeguards in place as schools prepare to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

UTAH, July 28, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Teacher’s Association has asked Gov. Gary Herbert to delay students’ and teachers’ return to school buildings, scheduled in August for most public school districts.

The request is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which, according to Utah Department of Health data, has killed more than 280 Utahns and sickened more than 38,400.

“Up until now, Utah has faced a choice between two bad options — either return to in-person learning and put our students, educators and communities at risk or temporarily return to a distance learning and virtual instruction model,” says a statement issued Tuesday morning by the UEA.

“Given the state’s rising number of positive coronavirus cases, this is no longer a choice,” says the statement, issued by UEA president Heidi Matthews.

“We simply cannot unnecessarily risk lives by opening schools too soon.”

The UEA has existed for more than a century, and currently represents about 18,000 active classroom teachers, retired educators, administrators, licensed educational support personnel and students in education programs at universities, its website says.

Results released last week from a Gallop poll indicated that that of those questioned, three-quarters of teachers from kindergarten through high school said they’re either “very” (57%) or “moderately” (18%) concerned about COVID-19 exposure in the classroom. That’s an increase of 16% from May.

A group of teachers of Utah teachers rallied at the state Capitol last week, wearing masks and socially distancing, and asking for more protection from the state. Signs they carried bore messages including “teachers deserve a safe workplace,” “Don’t kill us” and “I can teach from a distance but not from a casket.”


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