Dozens of San Marcos teachers demand more flexibility for new school year

Hays

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Fifty-two teachers from the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District have signed a letter to school board members with a list of requests ahead of the 2020-2021 school year.

“The question came up of, ‘What are we going to do to protect the teachers?'” says Oli Ponce-McLaughlin, a 2nd grade dual language teacher at De Zavala Elementary School.

“I have moderate asthma and I have to be on medications just to maintain myself, so I am one of the people that is at higher risk of complications from COVID,” Ponce-McLaughlin says.

In the letter, teachers request a policy change that would allow some to work from home, if they meet the following criteria:

  1. Teachers who have an underlying health condition listed on the CDC
    comorbidity list.
  2. Teachers who reside at least 50% of the time with a person who has an
    underlying health condition listed on the CDC comorbidity list.
  3. Teachers who provide childcare at least 50% of the time for children 12 years
    of age or younger who attend a school or daycare that has been closed or has
    modified operational hours.
  4. Teachers who are pregnant or caring for infants under the age of one.

As of Wednesday, spokesperson Andrew Fernandez says the school district started allowing a hybrid schedule during the three-week professional development period.

“If the teacher or staff member does not qualify for ADA accommodation, that’s where we are asking those teachers or staff members to reach out to those campus principals and create a flexible schedule,” Fernandez says.

But all teachers are expected to report to their empty classrooms on campus once virtual classes begin in September.

“On September 8th we’re asking all of our teachers to work from inside their classroom,” Fernandez says. “The reason for that is we have purchased technology for each of our classrooms to provide the best learning experience for our students.”

Ponce-McLaughlin says she’s grateful for the safety changes the district has already made.

“I have to commend the district they actually took the initiative of saying you know what we’re not going to offer face to face lessons just yet we’re going to hold off until October,” she says.

But the educator of 10 years says there’s still a lot of ground to cover, saying teachers should be able to make their own decision of where to teach – both when virtual school starts in September and when students possibly return to campus in October.

“We want to open a channel of communication directly from teachers and custodians and bus drivers and every member of the community that is working with the children and the students so that it’s more direct, and so that the district is aware of our concerns or requests,” Ponce-McLaughlin says.

Community members are organizing a caravan to show support for SMCISD Teachers, employees and students — scheduled Friday from 9 to 11 a.m, starting at 501 South LBJ Drive.

The caravan will end with a rally in the parking lot of Rattler Stadium.

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