Decatur teachers express concern over abrupt change in reopening plan

Teachers from the Decatur City School District rallied silently in front of the school board headquarters Tuesday to express their concerns about the new plan to have all employees return to work by October 12 and all students in class by the end of November. Teachers told FOX 5's Portia Bruner the new plan is a sharp contrast to what was initially proposed by school officials in July.

"We were supposed to wait until there were fewer cases of COVID-19 and then phase into a hybrid model. I love my students and I know they mean no harm, but when you get a class full of small children or even high school students, it's going to be hard for them to manage their masks. They are going to want to interact and that puts us all at risk," said Renfroe Middle School teacher Heather Bryars.


Several parents and students gathered with the teachers to show their support and share their concerns about returning to school in a COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you open too soon, you run the risk of having to close again and that's going to disrupt the stability of our teachers and students," said Dr. Melissa Black, a Decatur Physician who has two students enrolled in the school district.

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In a September 18 email issued to staff, Decatur School Superintendent Dr. David Dude said officials sought advice from medical and scientific experts before switching from the original phased-in approach to reopening schools. Early Learning Childhood Center students and those with special education needs will return first. Older students will return at varying grade levels starting November 2.

In the email obtained by FOX 5, Dr. Dude wrote, "We are monitoring multiple community health indicators in anticipation of a return to school, which for most students will not be until November. If the data suggest it is unsafe to return to (or remain in) school, we will adjust our plans accordingly."

He also said parents will have the option of keeping their children in a virtual learning setting but must decide if that’s what they intend to do at least three weeks in advance.

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