School board members on Wednesday night voted to begin reopening school buildings for in-person learning beginning on June 1.
Superintendent Eileen Shafer, who had twice postponed reopening schools, recommended the Board of Education vote to reopen schools for teachers next month.
School board members voted 8-0 approving her recommendation.
“The district has gone above and beyond,” said school board member Corey Teague.
Shafer said the district spent nearly $20 million to prepare schools for reopening.
Teachers last week argued school buildings are still not safe for in-person learning.
Schools have been closed since March 2020.
Shafer said June 1 will be a full day for staff. Teachers will work Monday through Friday in person and remotely on Fridays.
Special education students in pre-k to 12th grades and newcomers at schools New Roberto Clemente and School 15 are expected to be in school from 8:30 to 1:10 p.m. on June 8, said Shafer.
“We’re phasing in,” said Shafer.
Shafer did not say when all students will return to in-person schooling.
“We expect push back,” said school board vice president Manny Martinez. Teachers have vehemently opposed reopening schools. Many told the school board they wanted to return in September. “Our students have been suffering because they haven’t been able to get back into our buildings and back into a sense of normal learning.”
Martinez said teachers should have been back in the buildings “long time ago.” He said some teachers have been getting on planes, going on vacations, going to restaurants, and going to malls while arguing it’s unsafe to return to teach students in-person. He said it’s “shameful” for the same teachers to argue they cannot come to work in-person to teach students.
“To imply for one second that we’re putting you in an unsafe position by asking you to come to work is ridiculous. It is ridiculous. You go to malls, hop on planes, live your lives, do everything you can. Come back to work? ‘Oh no, you’re jeopardizing our lives and our safety.’ Oh, going to malls, restaurants, living your life hopping on planes is not? But you can’t come to work,” remarked Martinez. “That’s not everyone. I’m not making a blanket statement.”
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