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Coronavirus in Florida

Nassau Teacher’s Association blasts school district for calling teachers to work

The union argues teachers, teacher assistants and secretaries can work from home.

The Nassau Teacher’s Association (NTA) blasted that county’s school district Friday over its decision to call in teachers to work at school

The association of unions and education interest groups highlighted President Donald Trump and the national health officials’ guidance that people to stay home as much as possible and to avoid being in locations with 10 or more people. But during a Thursday board meeting Nassau County School District Superintendent Kathy Burns and the board confirmed teachers would still return to work.

“Nassau County is not equipped to flip a switch and go digital,” Burns said.

But NTA president Chris Pagel said the district is providing 6th through 12th grade students with electronic devices and will receive instructional material through videos, Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams. However, there are not enough devices to distribute to elementary school students, who will be receiving eight weeks’ worth of assignments.

“These are very unique circumstances we find ourselves in,” Pagel said. “We should be working together to find a reasonable approach to the challenges we face, while ensuring the health of our students, our families and our school district employees.”

The association recommends teachers, teacher assistants and secretaries can communicate with parents and students virtually, by email or on the phone. Asking them to work from school puts employees in harm’s way, it argues.

While Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran have closed school campuses, they have left staffing decisions up to individual school districts. Students statewide will return April 15 at the earliest unless districts offer their own decision.

Baker, Clay, Columbia, Duval and St. Johns county school districts have asked teachers to work from home. NTA has sent a demand to bargain to the school board members and is awaiting a response.

Nassau County has six confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the Florida Department of Health. Those infected range from 50 to 73 years old.

Written By

Renzo Downey covers the Florida Legislature for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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