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50% of Spokane teachers surveyed don't feel safe returning to in-person school

Nearly 85% of those surveyed said they supported enforcing rules about masks and social distancing should Spokane students return to classrooms.

SPOKANE, Wash. — More than 50% of teachers surveyed by the Spokane Public School's teacher's union (SEA) said they don't feel it's safe to return to school in person this fall.

The survey conducted by the teacher's union compiled responses from over 1,300 employees of the Spokane Public Schools system about a variety of questions regarding how, and if, students should return to school in person next fall.

As for other respondents, 37% said they felt it was safe to return to school with current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Around 10% of respondents said they felt guidelines should be relaxed, and 2.3% said they felt it was safe to return with no guidelines in place.  

Around 43% of respondents said they were at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, but 70% of those said they would return to school for face-to-face instruction anyway.  

Around 18% said they would go so far as to participate in protests to prevent in-person education from resuming. Around 43.9% said they would sign a letter or petition, 36.7% said they would participate in an email campaign with the office of the governor, and 33.3% said they would take no action because they feel school should resume in person.

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SEA wrote that the survey was supposed to inform the union on how to negotiate on behalf of members, but because respondents were split on how they should return to school, "it would be difficult for SEA to advocate one way or another." 

Although respondents were split on if students should return to school, a majority, 83.4%, reported that they wanted the district to both have and enforce rules around mask wearing, personal protective equipment and social distancing for anyone entering the school building. 

However, results were contradictory when asked if staff felt comfortable teaching in a classroom where social distancing measures were in place. Only 5.9% said they would be comfortable teaching in that environment. Another 41% said while that situation wasn't ideal, they would prefer it to full distance learning, while 37.6% of respondents said schools should implement full distance learning until social distancing is no longer needed.  

More than 75% of teachers asked said if schools return in-person with social distancing implemented they would like access to professional development for teaching in that environment. 

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