AEA: 65% of surveyed members ‘very uncomfortable’ with returning to classroom

AEA: 65% of surveyed members ‘very uncomfortable’ with returning to classroom
The results of a survey given to AEA members are being released and most don't want school buildings to reopen until health experts say it's safe. (Source: WAFF)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Education Association is releasing the findings of a survey it recently conducted about possibly reopening schools amid the pandemic.

AEA, which represents 85,000 educators and is the state’s largest education association, said just under 41,000 members completed the emailed survey.

Of those who responded, 65 percent said they are “very uncomfortable” with returning to the classroom in the fall if conditions remain as they currently are. And 62 percent believe remote learning is the only option that should be available for the upcoming school year.

[READ MORE: AEA survey results]

Another 63 percent of respondents don’t want school facilities to reopen until public health experts are in agreement that it’s safe to return.

One respondent said they were “very concerned that another outbreak could happen on my campus and the employees will be kept in the dark again,” pointing out an incident in March in which “the information was withheld from faculty & staff until the information was made known by the co-worker.”

When it comes to requiring the use of masks, an overwhelming number of respondents, 67 percent, said yes for school employees. Another 63 percent felt it was in order to require students to wear masks.

AEA’s survey revealed that about 43 percent of the members who responded said they had an underlying health issue that puts them at risk of contracting COVID-19, but almost 70 percent have not communicated their concerns to their employer.

Teachers who would have to report to a school facility for work have also been considering their options. More than one-third of educators who responded, about 36 percent, have considered leaving the profession entirely or taking early retirement to avoid putting themselves at risk.

The AEA had previously released 22 expectations it has for reopening schools.

The Alabama State Department of Education has released its “Roadmap to Reopening Plan” and Gov. Ivey has awarded $170 million to support health care and remote learning in the state’s public schools.

A number of school districts have also opted for virtual-only teaching to begin the semester.

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