Missouri teachers concerned about contracting COVID-19

Also asking if they can force students to wear masks.

Brian Kelly
July 08, 2020 - 2:55 pm

    (KMOX) - A majority of Missouri teachers are at least somewhat concerned about getting COVID-19 if their schools reopen in the fall and they're wondering how their districts will handle it if they get sick.

    That's according to a just-completed Missouri State Teachers Association survey of  teachers around the state.

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    Of the 2,500 respondents, 57% say they're at least somewhat concerned about getting COVID-19. Of that number, 25% say they are very concerned. Only 16% are not concerned at all. MSTA Spokesman Todd Fuller says teachers are also questioning what happens if they do contract the virus.

    "'If I get COVID while at school will I be able to use my sick days or will I be able to use other sick days or will they create a pool of sick days? Will I qualify for FMLA (family leave) if I get COVID at school?'" Fuller says.

    Fuller says the association's three attorneys are looking into those questions. 

    Related: Local schools look overseas for reopening advice
    Related: Here are the rules St. Louis County schools must follow to reopen this fall

    In comments in response to the survey, teachers are also asking how they should handle the wearing of masks in school. "'Can I force the students in my classroom to wear (a mask)? What are the rights I have as a teacher if they don't?' These are just a small sample of a number of questions teachers are going to have," says Fuller. 

    The survey shows 41% of teachers approve of the way Gov. Mike Parson has handled the coronavirus pandemic. Fifty-three percent approve of their local government's handling of it while 68% think their school board has handled it well and 72% support their local superintendent's response.

    More than half – 55% – say their district's plan for in-person instruction for the upcoming school year hasn't been determined yet. Forty-two percent say they'll have a normal start date. 

    Fuller says the teachers want to try to figure out ways to get back into the classroom, but they want their students and themselves to feel safe.

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