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'Anxiety inducing': Clay County teacher's union worries about safety going back to school

The President of the Clay County Education Association says there are already teachers in quarantine before school has started.

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — It's the last weekend before school is back in session on the First Coast, including Clay County. Students head back August 10, but teachers are already getting their classrooms ready.

President of Clay County Education Association Vicki Kidwell says last year they had 2,500 students on Clay Virtual. This year, there’s about 250. 

With more kids going back to in person school, there are fewer safety protocols in place. 

Masks are recommended and not required this school year. Expect staggered dismissal times to spread out the kids. 

You should still see social distancing signs around schools. You can check out Clay County's entire back to school plan here.

Expect the schools to be more crowded since One Clay virtual is gone and the number of students doing Florida virtual school has skydived.

“We know that we have some tools in our toolbox to keep our kids safe and our employees safe," Kidwell said. "But we don’t have as many as we had last year. It’s anxiety inducing, to say the least.”

Kidwell's job is to make sure teachers feel safe and protected and currently, she says, not all of them do because of the relaxed protocols.

“I think in a lot of ways if we had the same tools people would say ‘hey we knew we could do this. We kept the schools open. Yeah we had isolations. We had quarantines, but we got through it,'" Kidwell said. "This year, we don’t know what is going to happen.”

She says there are Clay County teachers already in quarantine and school hasn’t started yet. 

For parent Danielle Corker, she’s sending her 5th grader to school with his mask. She's talked to him about keeping it on during the school day.

“Since he did the online schooling last year, we didn’t have that much of a worry about the exposure or possible exposure of going back into brick and mortar," Corker said. "This year is a little different because now we are worried about a possible exposure and how we would handle that.”

Kidwell went in front of the school board on Thursday night lobbying for more protection for teachers, specifically COVID-19 leave. She says this is a benefit they had last year that they didn't get back this school year.


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