Courtesy of Kansas Public Radio:
Kansas teachers that don’t feel safe going back to crowded hallways as schools reopen could take medical leave or teach online. But at the many districts that don’t have those options, teachers eye another choice: quitting.
Resigning would mean more than losing steady paychecks during a recession and insurance during a pandemic. Teachers that leave now must pay their districts thousands of dollars.
Most Kansas public teachers must retire or resign early in the summer or pay their school district to find a replacement. Unless a district or a teacher says otherwise, contracts roll over into the new year.
It’s usually a routine thing. Notably, the upcoming school year looks much the same when those contracts are signed as when kids return for the fall semester.
But heading back to school seemed a lot safer before the resignation deadlines that came a few months ago. At the deadlines, the coronavirus outbreak appeared nearly under control. Some educators now say it’s unfair to charge teachers for escaping their contracts if they no longer feel safe returning to the classroom. And forcing teachers to pay now could lead to more teachers quitting eventually.
“You can claw back as much money as you want, but if you’re not careful, then what you end up with is a district with no teachers,” said Marcus Baltzell, head of communications for the Kansas National Education Association.
Kelly Smith, a special education teacher at Leavenworth High School, felt pretty good about returning. The state still hadn’t released guidelines for what reopening schools should look like, but a task force made up of educators and health officials were working on that.
“I was absolutely confident that with all the contributors that they would come up with the absolute best plan that they could in completely unknown waters,” Smith said.
Today, coronavirus cases have climbed back up. Several counties, like Sedgwick, began ordering bars to close and reinstated gathering size limits. Some educators are now saying reopening schools safely is not possible. Gov. Laura Kelly’s plan to delay reopening schools was overturned by the state school board, making that a local decision.
Smith said she’s now terrified. She would consider quitting, but she’d have to pay her district $2,000 dollars for resigning in August. She said that doesn’t leave her much choice other than going back to work.
“For me, that’s just shy of a month’s paycheck,” Smith said. “That would hurt.”
What a great choice, either risk death by entering a potentially contaminated work environment, or risk financial ruin due to extravagant fines.
Kansas has sucked balls for a number of decades now, but its level of suckitude has really skyrocketed during this pandemic.
One has to wonder just how many educators and schoolchildren Kansas is willing to sacrifice to their gods of ineptitude?