Jeff. Parish teachers considering strike after continued concerns for safety

JP teachers considering strike after continued concerns for safety

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Math teachers deal in problems and puzzles, but Riverdale High School math chair, Tian Buzbee is still trying to figure out how to configure her classroom to be socially distanced.

“I cannot fit 25 people in my room if we’re all spaced 6 feet apart because it’s 6 feet in all directions that’s not just 6 feet left to right,” said Buzbee.

Needless to say the added stressors have her and her colleagues concerned, especially considering Jefferson teachers’ first day back to school is Monday.

“How are we controlling the air and making sure there’s enough air blowing in and being sucked out of the room… how we’re going to get enough PPE… we are always asking for hand sanitizer we are always asking for wipes,” said Buzbee.

“A lot of those things have yet to be worked out principles are still in the planning phases,” said Jefferson Federation of Teachers’ union leader Kesler Camese-Jones.

Since there’s still so much left to be decided, and with only days left until the start of school, the Jefferson Federation of Teachers penned a letter to the district with 165 questions. In it, they ask district leaders to push back the start of school.

“We would like to see a significant decrease in cases because as we know if we start bringing people back together schools can potentially be the new hotspot,” said Camese-Jones.

With the national teachers’ union stating they will support teachers if they choose to strike, Camese-Jones says they want to first give the district the opportunity to make it right for teachers, students, and families.

“Our educators want to be with their students that’s their first priority they want to be in person with their students but they want to make sure they’re there when it’s safe,” said Camese-Jones.

“It feels like if you’re fighting for the lives of your students you’ll do anything,” said Buzbee.

Buzbee says she would choose first-day of school jitters over striking any day, but not if it means risking her student’s safety.

“It upsets me to think this is what it’s come to, again I personally would be willing to strike because I’m fighting for lives,” said Buzbee.

Jefferson Parish School district released a statement, saying:

We received the information from JFT this afternoon, and are working to address their concerns. Many of the answers to their concerns are being worked out on the school-level through site-specific plans. These plans align with Start Strong Jefferson and the guidelines we have received from the Louisiana Department of Education. We understand there is a lot of uncertainty, and it is our goal to finalize our opening procedures and communicate that information in a way that ensures teachers feel confident with returning to school on Monday. We value our teachers and their commitment to providing a safe learning environment as we work towards reopening schools safely on August 12.

Students return to class August 12th.

More than 17,000 families signed up for the virtual learning option. That’s about 40 percent of students.

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