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Document: Missouri NEA Educators Survey


Missouri educators are concerned about resuming in-person classes in the fall, according to survey results from the Missouri National Education Association.

The organization released the results from its survey on school reopening, virtual learning, and educator and student safety Thursday. The survey, conducted July 17-28, asked educators to evaluate how prepared school districts are for in-person instruction, virtual education, and safety and educator well-being, according to a news release from the MNEA.

The survey of 24,270 Missouri educators shows most are concerned about lack of training with personal protective equipment, clear protocols when a COVID-19 exposure occurs and the ability to maintain social distancing.

Educators "expressed strong concerns about keeping students safe, a lack of specificity in local district plans, stress at home, and paying out of pocket to purchase personal protective equipment," according to the news release. They also expressed that they want more training in virtual instruction and are optimistic about their school's preparations for virtual education.

The majority of Missouri educators (78.6 percent) said "districts should not rush to meet an arbitrary opening date but instead should focus on opening when safe," according to the survey results.

In the Jefferson City School District's survey sent to staff and families June 4 to help district leaders create a re-entry plan, the majority of staff and families said they want to return to in-seat classes in the fall with increased sanitation, temperature checks and social distancing.

The MNEA's survey results also show educators want a voice in reopening plans — 77.8 percent of Missouri educators think they should have a say in approving in-person instruction plans.

Educators also do not believe school districts will have enough personal protective equipment available. Only 4.8 percent of Missouri educators "strongly believe their district will provide appropriate and adequate PPE," and 80.4 percent expect to spend their own money on essential cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment for themselves and students, according to the results.

Only 1.6 percent of Missouri educators strongly agree "there is a clear plan and the physical space to ensure adequate social distancing," and only 3.7 percent said their school has clear safety protocols, according to the results.

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In JC Schools' back-to-school surveys, teachers and staff expressed concerns about not being able to socially distance, parents sending sick children to school, sick leave, staff and families that have health conditions, and the future of virtual education, which they want training for if there is another closure.

JC Schools identified six key districtwide priorities for in-seat education this fall (with an online learning option): increased sanitation efforts, social distancing, staff and student screening measures, personal protective equipment, limited visitor access to buildings, virtual education options, and procedures for COVID-19 infections.

If the district receives official notification of a student or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19 and attended school the day they tested positive, the areas they were in will be closed for at least the rest of the day to allow for contact tracing by the local health department, according to the district's re-entry plan.

Students and staff in the Jefferson City School District may be contacted to help with contact tracing efforts, review assigned seating charts and determine who had contact with the person who tested positive. Students and staff who come in close contact with someone who tested positive will not be permitted to return to school until released by the local health department. Staff and families will be notified if the school district is aware of an official positive case within a school building.

While Missouri educators expressed many concerns about safely returning to in-seat classes, 72.1 percent agree that "their school district has the resources to ensure that every student can access learning materials for remote instruction," according to the results.

Phil Murray, a Poplar Bluff teacher and president of the MNEA, said in the news release he believes it's not safe for Missouri schools to reopen yet.

"Local districts experiencing increased cases of COVID-19 should use this time to prepare for virtual instruction, create engaging lessons and, ensure equity of access to remote learning materials," Murray said in the news release. "A rushed reopening where elected officials insist children are."

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