Families First Coronavirus Response Act

MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WALA) -- Many teachers are parents too and whether their school is calling them back to in-person learning or it’s all online, there are still many worries. Some tell FOX10 News, a big one is who’s going to keep their kids. There are some options.

“I just feel like the numbers continuing to rise, I just didn't think it was safe for our students, teachers and just all the staff to be returning to the buildings in such close proximity,” Stefannie Lucas-Poellnitz said.

Lucas-Poellnitz is a sixth grade social studies teacher at Calloway Smith Middle School. She’s been working for the Mobile County Public School System just shy of two decades. That experience, not enough to prepare her for a global pandemic.

She said, “I was very excited to know that it was going to be online, I had already chosen the option for my own son to stay home and be online.”

Mobile County Public School Superintendent Chresal Threadgill’s announcement to start school on September 1 and keep it remote for the first 9 weeks was an overall sigh of relief for Lucas-Poellnitz.

Her reasoning, “We don't know who these children might be exposed to. And then they're coming in exposing us and you know, it's not being selfish, but we have to take care of ourselves so that we can continue to work in the classroom,” she said.

In person to online learning, eliminates some fears of virus transmission, but creates other ones.

“Just not knowing the students and knowing their personalities, and just really having to just teach from a computer screen and give them work. I think it's going to be difficult,” Lucas-Poellnitz said.

Getting insight on a student's home life or seeing signs of abuse, also something she said will be all the more difficult and then there’s finding childcare for her own two kids.

“My children are 10 and one so I am a concerned parent as well as to how this is going to work because I'll be having to teach along with him, make sure he's getting his work done. So that kind of pushes teachers in the corner who are parents because we’ve got to do both jobs,” Lucas-Poellnitz said.

Abigail Davis, UniServe Director for the Alabama Education Association echoed that. She said, “Their biggest concern is what to do with their children. They don't have childcare. It's not the norm."

Davis represents teachers in the MCPSS, Chickasaw, Saraland and Satsuma City Schools. According to her, Superintendent Threadgill purchased cameras for his classrooms and teachers will instruct from there.

Davis said, “We found out some of the principals will allow them to bring their children to the school with them in their classrooms as long as they're not disrupting the taping and, And then other principals don't want them to bring their children to the school. So it varies, principal to principal.”

Another option for teachers who can’t find childcare falls under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. They can take 10 weeks off the job with 2/3 pay.

If your student is in the Chickasaw, Saraland, Satsuma City School or any school with in-person learning, that won’t be an option.

Teachers at those schools, Davis said, have other worries, contracting the virus for one.

“They have to take the temperatures of the children. They're not required to wear a mask. It's okay if they wear a mask. They don't have to wear a mask. So it makes the teachers a little nervous,” Davis said.

So far, Davis has not heard of any teachers deciding to quit instead of return to the classroom during this pandemic.

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