Duval superintendent: District must be ready if some teachers don’t want to return this fall

Community to give input on plan to reopen schools

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A national poll published by USA Today this week found that 20% of teachers said they are unlikely to go back to school if their classrooms reopen in the fall.

The results were eye-opening for Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene who spoke about the survey during a school board workshop Wednesday as the district formulated a plan to possibly reopen schools in August amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you think about a teaching force that is a little over 7,800, that would have a major impact on our ability to really have a strong teaching force in place for face-to-face instruction,” Greene said.

That could mean more than 1,500 Duval County teachers might not come back, if the USA Today survey results come to fruition.

Terrie Brady, President of Duval Teachers United, said Thursday she doesn’t think there will be that kind of mass exodus of teachers leaving if the district chooses to reopen campuses.

“I think when they hear what precautions are going to be taken and when they hear about what is actually going to happen, I think their needs are going to be met,” Brady said.

Brady acknowledged that there will be some teachers with pre-existing conditions and others that might choose to walk away.

“I think we will have some that won’t come back that are gonna take an early retirement, I do believe that," she added. “And I think that this is a scary situation.”

For the most part, Brady said, she’s hearing that teachers want to get back in front of students in a safe way.

A survey of teachers in St. Johns County released this week found that 30% were uncomfortable returning to campuses for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

The USA Today poll also found that nearly two-thirds of teachers said they haven’t been able to properly do their jobs since most instruction was moved online. A separate USA Today poll of parents with at least one child in grades K-12 found that 6 in 10 would likely explore at-home learning options.

DCPS put out a similar survey on May 19 to ask parents, guardians, students, employees and community members to provide feedback on the multiple possibilities the district is considering for next school year.

The results of the survey, which is open through Friday and already has thousands of replies, are expected to be released early next week.

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