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Houston educator's chat with late colleague creates call to action for COVID protocols in schools

The Texas AFT sent an open letter to public education officials saying the pandemic isn't over.

HOUSTON, Texas — Managing students, COVID protocols and, in some cases, the lack thereof recently caught up with longtime educator Claudia Macias.

"And I am holding onto dear life here, like literally,” said Macias in a personal chat she recorded with mentor Felipe Arenas.

Arenas, a veteran teacher and principal, lost his battle with COVID-19 more than a year ago.

But Macias, who currently works as a digital media specialist, still leans on the late colleague in times of difficulty which now includes debating retirement.

"I think it's time to move on," Macias said in the video.

"It was a day where I really lost my joy," Macias told us.  "And so I decided to talk to Mr. Arenas because he was the one that I always spoke to.”

Macias shared the video with Texas AFT president Zeph Capo who referred to it in an open letter to public education officials.

The union believes many have gotten lax amid ongoing COVID issues.

It would like more on-campus testing opportunities, greater access to the most effective face coverings and stiffer social-distancing guidelines gathering spots like cafeterias.

"We fought really hard to make sure these school districts got the federal dollars so they could actually do these things," said Capo.  "And I think these are the minimum mitigation standards they can make sure continue to be in place at schools.”

Macias said she realizes the importance of in-person instruction and still has a lot of passion for what she does.

She agreed to share her video so others know they’re not alone.

“I’m just trying to hold on and trying to make sure the kids have what they need," said Macias. "But, at the same time, trying to make sure I am okay.”

We reached out to the Texas Education Agency for a response to concerns but have yet to hear back.

Many districts do continue to enforce COVID protocols and offer testing and vaccination opportunities as well.