AFT-MS writes open letter to Gov. Tate Reeves

Coronavirus

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The American Federation of Teachers-Mississippi (AFT-MS) wrote a letter to the governor, asking him to delay in-person school. They said it’s not safe for students to return to class.

Geraldine Bender, president of the AFT-MS, wrote the letter to Governor Tate Reeves. She said virtual school won’t handicap students to a point that they cannot recover.

“I know kids are more apt to use technology than the teachers are. So it’s not a hard thing for them to master. Not at all,” she said.

According to Bender, many teachers have express their anxiety about returning to in-person learning.

“I know it’s not safe. I love my children, and I want to see them. But I can’t take that chance on my life. I’m going to resign, or I’m going to retire.”

Bender said the health of teachers must also be taken into account.

“When they used to come with a runny nose, you would get a cold. That’s the risk that you run. But this time, it won’t just be a cold. Teachers have always had to take an antibiotic for this that and the other, because they are there taking care of the children. But it was nothing deadly. This is an unforgiving virus. It doesn’t care.”

Under the governor’s new executive order, eight counties will have a delayed start to 7th-12th grade schools. Although other districts will start on time, Bender said they should not open in August or until they have absolute confidence in their reopening plan.

“Do you have things that you have things in place to test every child every day? Do you have the staff to do that? Are you equipped with proper air conditioning? Do you have separation areas for your students? Your cafeteria, are you bringing lunch to the students or do they come get it? Are all these things in place? And if you say yes to all of that, then you’re ready,” explained Bender.

She said she knows there are difficult decisions for superintendents and Governor Reeves to make.

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