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San Marcos teachers and staff rally for safer school reopening options

SMTX Alliance for Schools held a caravan and rally to support all San Marcos CISD staff.

SAN MARCOS, Texas — Some teachers, school staff and community members in San Marcos are advocating for safer reopening options ahead of the 2020 school year.  

SMTX Alliance for Schools, a group of concerned staff and residents, has organized a rally to support everyone who works for San Marcos CISD

The event started with a caravan at 9:45 a.m. and continued with a socially-distant parking lot rally at San Marcos Rattler Stadium at 11 a.m. 

Virtual instruction begins Sept. 7 in San Marcos, and teachers will be required to teach virtually from their classrooms in person unless they have a disability. 

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"Only 40% of students need/want in-person instruction this semester but the superintendent is forcing 100% of teachers back to campus," said SMTX Alliance for Schools. 

The group adds that despite public outcry, Superintendent Michael Cardona has not extended teachers who might be at higher risk the flexibility to teach virtually from home. 

SMTX Alliance for School wants Friday's event to bring attention to the concerns and requests from San Marcos CISD staff, which includes having a choice between on-campus or remote teaching for the fall semester and the following items listed:

  • Equal treatment and opportunity to participate in PD from home
  • A statement of support for remote work from the Superintendent
  • Regular virtual staff meetings
  • Clearer digital communication channels 
  • Transparent metrics and guidelines weekly on school conditions 
  • A list of full PPE they will have available for in-person teaching
  • Outdoor classrooms for in-person learning
  • Using cohorts as much as possible
  • Flexibility, uniformity and equality for all employees

More than 50 teachers recently wrote a letter to the SCISD school board with a list of specific requests that would result in immediate policy change. In that letter, teachers request that certain educators be allowed 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.

At Friday's caravan, some teachers like Ole Ponce-McLaughlin, who teaches second grade, voiced optimism. 

"I'm here to represent all the teachers that truly believe the district wants to do what's best for everybody, and that includes all the educators that are compromised or have any comorbidity," said Ponce-McLaughlin

Students also showed up to support, like fourth-grader Eli Mylius who helped to make signs.

"They shouldn't be at school, they could get infected with the virus," said Mylius

Two school board trustees actually attended the caravan to show their support for the requests, Miguel Arredondo and Anne Halsey.

"I think it's important that we show our employees that we hear them and that we understand while we have a high rate of coronavirus circulating in this community, we want to show our teachers that we hear them and they know best where they can do their jobs," said Anne Halsey

The board will have a meeting on Monday where they will decide on how to respond to the requests. 

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