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Cy-Fair teachers to protest district's reopening plan at board meeting

Several teachers said they are scared of returning to the classroom too soon.

HOUSTON — Dozens of Cy-Fair ISD teachers plan to protest at Monday night's board meeting. They're calling on officials to push back in-person learning for eight more weeks or provide teachers the option to teach remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"They have to listen to the teachers. We're the ones on the front line," said Jennifer Freestone, an English teacher at Jersey Village High School

Three CFISD teachers and staff talked about the situation to KHOU 11 News.

"We have a right to speak up for our safety," said Diana Alexander, a diagnostician at Dean Middle School.

They all say they're stressed and carrying the same burden.

"I love teaching, but I don't love it as much as I love my family and staying alive," said Mackenna Coffey, a theater teacher at Aragon Middle School.

For families that opted to send their kids back to campus, in-person instruction is slated to resume on Sept. 8. Teachers have to report back to school this week, for professional development.

"We're going to have teachers who get sick before the first day of school because we're required to go come to campus," Coffey said.

Coffey is six months pregnant and has a son at home with underlying health conditions. Her husband is a teacher, too.

"My husband and I have talked about creating a living will," Coffey said.

With COVID-19 positivity rates still high in Houston, teachers are refusing to stay quiet publicly calling on the district to give them more options and further ensure their safety.

"It's the difference between life and death," Freestone said. "It's just not safe for them. It's not safe for me. Why would I take these students that I love and put them in a place where they could get something that could kill them?"

Teachers say they don't feel heard.

"The options given to us are to resign, take leave or just come to work despite the advice your own medical professionals," Alexander said.

Teachers we spoke with say they plan to continue to protest on Monday.

"You don't pay me enough to die," Freestone said.

CFISD released this statement:

"CFISD began a multi-phased approach for all employees to return to work onsite beginning on May 11 and continuing throughout the summer, dependent on contract start dates.  Instructional paraprofessionals and classroom teachers are the final group of full-time employees to return to work onsite, Friday, August 14, the first day of three-plus weeks of essential professional development. We are fortunate that our board approved a later start date of Tuesday, September 8, allowing us to extend the training days for teachers as well as providing additional time to monitor the community spread of the virus.  Professional development provides teachers the opportunity to become familiar with the new CFISD Connect remote platform, as well as the numerous and significant health and safety protocols we are implementing for students who elect to receive instruction on campus (currently, approximately 40,000 out of 118,000 students, which will allow for social distancing).  During the summer, CFISD held a number of very successful programs with students and staff on campuses, including athletics strength and conditioning camps, fine arts camps, several licensed child care programs (Club Rewind and Early Learning Center), and special education testing.  All of these programs implemented the health and safety protocols that are included in CFISD’s LEAD Safely 2020-2021 plan (www.cfisd.net/leadsafely) that will be enforced this school year.  Employees are always encouraged to share their concerns with their supervisor and the Human Resources department.  CFISD remains committed to serving the needs of our staff while delivering a high-quality education to our students."

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