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Study: Distance learning taking a toll on Florida teachers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida teachers are stressed, concerned about student engagement and fearful of budget cuts, according to a new survey by the state’s teachers union.

More than half of the 12,800 teachers and educational staff that took the survey said they’re stressed.

Roughly the same worry about budget cuts to education, and three out of four are also concerned their students are falling behind.

“Our students are trying to balance that, our parents are trying to balance life and it forces some problems,” said Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram.

Ingram believes funding will play a key role in student success moving forward.

“It’s going to take training and time to get people acclimated to doing hybrid forms of classrooms,” Ingram said.

A new report presented Wednesday to the Board of Education by school superintendents lays out recommendations for returning to the classroom.

It includes daily temperature checks, social distancing and a mixture of distance and in-person learning for schools without the necessary space. It also requires health professionals be part of local reopening plans.

And while the state has set a goal of returning to the classroom for fall term, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the lead health expert on the White House Coronavirus Task Force gave a warning to U.S. senators Tuesday.

“We don’t see a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school this term,” Fauci said.

Capitol News Service’s request for an interview with the commissioner of education went unanswered.

The state’s teachers union also said it continues to be left out of reopening conversations.

“The people who work with these kids every day, their voices have to be brought to the table and unfortunately, at this point, it has not,” said Ingram. “And so that concerns me more than when we go back to school.”

Ingram said the union will be conducting the first meeting of its own reopening task force sometime next week if they don’t hear from the governor or Department of Education.

Both the teachers union and the Florida Department of Education are hoping to hear from parents on reopening.

Parents can take FEA’s survey here and the state’s survey here.