AUSTIN, Texas — Some Austin ISD teachers are concerned about losing their health accommodations to teach virtually as the school district reveals their new plan to welcome more students back to campuses.
KVUE spoke with two teachers, who both want to stay anonymous in fear of losing their jobs and said there's still many concerns about safety.
"I feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place, and the school district is putting us in this position when they don't need to," said one AISD teacher who got approved to work from home because he has multiple health conditions.
He said he teaches high school kids and he got a doctor's note in September asking for the school district to let him work from home. This AISD teacher said he was told more teachers, including himself, could be asked to go back to school starting Nov. 2.
"If your doctor approves it or not, regardless if they gave you the accommodation in writing or not, you may come back Nov. 2. So, that scared a lot of people," said this AISD teacher. "Personally, I know three other teachers that have resigned because of it – because they can't go back physically for health reasons for themselves or their family members. So, we're losing veteran experience teachers because of this policy."
If they make him go back, this AISD teacher said he's taking a stand and calling in sick until he doesn't have those sick days anymore.
"I'm not going and it's very scary because I'm the sole income for my household," he said. "And if I lose my job, you know, things snowball from there. But it's to the point of, 'Do I risk my life?'"
KVUE spoke with another AISD teacher who also wants to stay anonymous and said he teaches high schoolers. This teacher said, from the start, communication to teachers in the district wasn't great.
"Just to be completely honest, the accommodations and the procedures that they're going to take just simply are going to be ineffective," said the second AISD teacher.
The teacher told KVUE he doesn't have a health accommodation and he's been teaching virtually. But he said he's worried about what would happen to his family once he's put back in the classroom.
When campuses open up more in November, AISD said students' families have the choice of whether or not to learn from home. In a statement an AISD spokesperson said:
"The safety and wellbeing of all students and staff are the priorities for Austin ISD. We are committed to honoring as many accommodations as possible through the end of the fall semester. If there is a need for changes to accommodations to meet the needs of in-person learners, it will be approached on a campus-by-campus basis in collaboration with campus leadership and the employee to explore possible solutions.
"The Texas Education Agency currently requires school districts to provide on-campus instruction and we are committed to providing outstanding educational opportunities for our students. In order for our scholars to learn in a safe environment, we need our educators to support their academic, social and emotional needs on-campus in a safe and socially distant setting. We will continue to work closely with our staff and ensure extra precautions, including the installation of Plexiglas barriers in some elementary classrooms and cafeterias."
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