Teachers concerned over Atlanta Public Schools plan to return to classroom

Atlanta Public Schools teachers are preparing for students to return to the classroom later this month. At a board meeting on Monday, APS leaders said they would move forward with the plan despite the rise in COVID-19 cases across the state.

Some teachers are now speaking about going back to in-person learning.

"I'm feeling quite nervous. I'm nervous for not only my own health but also for our students," said teacher Tracey Pendley.

Many teachers in Atlanta said they feel like they're not being heard, and it's not safe for kids to return to school for in-person learning.

"We're being forced to choose between our health and being able to pay our bills," said teacher Tania Wismer.

Later this month, about one-third of APS students intend to return to school for face-to-face learning. The district affirmed that plan would move forward at Monday night's board meeting.

"There are students who have to be in our school buildings to learn," said Jason Esteves, Atlanta School Board Chair.

APS initially proposed bringing back students in October but backed off that plan because of a rise in COVID-19 cases. The district is allowing teachers to make requests to work from home, but so far only 10% of those requests have been approved.

"I just think that it should be a choice, the same way that we've made it a choice for students and families," said Pendley.

Students will be phased back in for face-to-face learning at the end of January. Teachers like Pendley are urging school leaders to reconsider this plan.

"Consider your teachers and how important they are to the lifeline of the school system, how important their trust is," explained Pendley.

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