Courtesy of US News:
New guidance from President Donald Trump’s administration that declares teachers to be “critical infrastructure workers” could give the green light to exempting teachers from quarantine requirements after being exposed to COVID-19 and instead send them back into the classroom.
Keeping teachers without symptoms in the classroom, as a handful of school districts in Tennessee and Georgia have already said they may do, raises the risk that they will spread the respiratory illness to students and fellow employees. Multiple teachers can be required by public health agencies to quarantine for 14 days during an outbreak, which can stretch a district’s ability to keep providing in-person instruction.
South Carolina health officials also describe teachers as critical infrastructure workers, although it’s unclear if any district there is asking teachers to return before 14 days.
Among the first districts to name teachers as critical infrastructure workers was eastern Tennessee’s Greene County, where the school board gave the designation to teachers July 13.
“It essentially means if we are exposed and we know we might potentially be positive, we still have to come to school and we might at that point be carriers and spreaders,” said Hillary Buckner, who teaches Spanish at Chuckey-Doak High School in Afton.
Buckner, secretary of the county-level affiliate of the National Education Association, said it’s unethical for teachers to risk infecting students. Only prekindergarten and kindergarten students are currently attending class face-to-face in 7,500-student Greene County, going two days a week for two-and-a-half hours a day. Teachers are instructing others online from their classrooms, Buckner said, but she said the local school board could soon mandate a broader in-person return.
Data kept by The Associated Press shows the coronavirus is spreading faster per-capita in Georgia than any other state, while Tennessee has the seventh-fastest spread. A few schools that reopened for in-person instruction in both states have already closed after cases were reported. Gordon Central High School in the northwest Georgia town of Calhoun switched to online instruction Wednesday citing a high number of teachers in quarantine.
At least five other school districts in Tennessee have given the designation to their teachers, seeking to exempt them from quarantine orders. Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday blessed the move, with his administration saying it would accept the designation, citing the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency.
That agency on Tuesday issued its fourth version of who counts as a critical infrastructure worker, for the first time saying teachers should be on the list alongside nurses, police officers and meat packers. Such workers can be permitted to keep working following COVID-19 exposure “provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states.
This news is actually a few days old but I just stumbled across it the other day and I am horrified!
Why in the hell would anybody risk the lives of these children simply to maintain staffing regulations?
We already know that the disease is spread by those who show no symptoms and even some who test negative, so this seems like the thought process of a madman.
I know that the Republicans have been systematically trying to dismantle the public school system for decades now, but even I did not think they were willing to simply kill off teachers to achieve that goal.