During a Sept. 3 School Board work session, the Board voted to delay in-person reentry until after the first nine-week period, extending virtual education for an extra month.
But a survey conducted by the Española chapter of the National Education Association teachers’ union found that a majority of teachers are opposed to face-to-face instruction for the fall semester.
Of 192 teachers and staff who responded to the survey, 110, or 57 percent, said they did not wish to return to face-to-face instruction in the fall semester, while only 17 percent said they did.
A majority of teachers responded they would have felt very unsafe or somewhat unsafe about beginning a hybrid model - where students rotate between in-person and online education - in September.
Peter Madsen, the communications chair for the Española chapter, said the survey was conducted between Aug. 25 and 28, after school had restarted. The survey was emailed to about 350 staff members and about 55 percent responded.
More than half of staff reported living with or being a caretaker to someone in a high-risk category for COVID-19, and 41 percent said they themselves are in a high-risk category.
Just 4 percent of teachers said they were provided with adequate personal protective equipment, and 9 percent said they received some while 87 percent said they were not provided with any.
Superintendent Fred Trujillo previously said that the District had purchased large amounts of masks and hand sanitizer. Madsen said that he did not see any hand sanitizer or masks available for teachers.
Madsen said he remembered last winter during flu season when on some days as many as half of his students were out of school, and the others were worried about who might be sick. He is worried that in-person education could have a similar feel during the pandemic.
“Just the morale at school was incredibly low,” he said. “We had like half classes and we were all so worried about getting sick and how close we could be to people. So it was just hard to kind of access the learning part of the brain. So, I imagine if we do return to face-to-face instruction, something similar to that.”
In the survey, 70 percent of students said they “strongly agree” that they feel an increase in stress at work, and another 20 percent somewhat agree.
Madsen also shared the survey results with the Board during public comment at the work session.
The District is currently mired in contract negotiations with the teachers’ union, with teachers seeking a bigger raise arguing that they have to do more work to set up online education. The District lost funding after statewide cuts over the summer.
Part of those cuts included a decrease in a statewide salary increase for teachers from the original 4 percent to 1 percent.