Jefferson City – The Missouri National Education Association has released results from a survey of 24,270 Missouri educators, in which 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 (PPE).
Educators are seeking more training in virtual instruction, the union says, but are optimistic about their school’s preparations for virtual education.
“No one wants our students back in schools more than educators, but we must prioritize student and educator safety,” said Phil Murray, a Poplar Bluff teacher and president of the Missouri National Education Association. “Wednesday, Missouri was tagged as a ‘red zone’ state by the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force. Our state is experiencing a startling rise in new cases of COVID-19 among children and college-aged adults, accounting for 22 percent of cases just weeks before schools and colleges begin instruction.”
Key findings from the survey:
- Safety should guide district decisions: 78.6 percent of Missouri educators said districts should not rush to meet an arbitrary opening date but instead should focus on opening when safe.
- 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 are skeptical about the availability of PPE: Only 4.8 percent of Missouri educators strongly believe their district will provide appropriate and adequate PPE.
- Safety plans lack clarity: Only a handful of educators (1.6 percent) strongly agree with the statement: “There is a clear plan and the physical space to ensure adequate social distancing.” Only 3.7 percent say their school has clear safety protocols.
- Districts spent the summer preparing for virtual education: 72.1 percent of educators agree that their school district has the resources to ensure that every student can access learning materials for remote instruction.
- Educators are digging into their own pockets for necessary cleaning and PPE supplies: An overwhelming number of educators (80.4 percent) expect to spend personal funds on essential cleaning supplies and PPE for themselves and students.
“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,” said Murray.
“A rushed reopening where elected officials insist children are ‘gonna get over it’ puts students, educators, parents, and families at risk,” he said. “As educators, children are at the center of every decision we make. Now is the time to focus on keeping them safe, nurturing their love of learning, and crafting robust plans for returning to in-person instruction when COVID-19 cases recede.”
A complete summary of the survey with graphics and regional results is available here.