MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Montgomery Public Schools will resume in-person learning Tuesday morning. Around 300 teachers say they won’t be in the classroom due to lack of planning and safety for both educators and students across the district.
“We want to come together and have a plan that works,” stated Tynisa Williams, a teacher at Brewbaker Middle. “If we don’t have a plan there will be no personnel. Every school is different, you can’t do it with one size fits all.”
Williams, like several of her colleagues, has a compromised immune system. Other teachers who care for their aging parents and chronically ill children are also uneasy about what’s ahead.
“We have a teacher right here in Alabama who started school face-to-face in August,” Williams explained. “Three weeks later she caught COVID, her mother caught it the next day and three weeks later her mom is gone. How do you live with the guilt of having to go to work to provide for your family, but in going to work I took my family out?”
Williams said the district sent out surveys to parents during the first nine weeks about whether they wanted their children to remain on the virtual learning track or return to class. Williams says teachers were never given an option and were never consulted.
“I’ve literally been in tears, if I have to choose my life or my job - I choose my life,” she stated.
Williams said teachers sounded the alarm months ago, but it fell on deaf ears.
“We put out so much information, so many requests for help, we have had meetings and we were told you’re going to be all right.”
The concern goes beyond a personal scope, Williams is concerned about the health of her students.
“We serve the underprivileged, what happens if our children get sick”, she asked. “One of my students this summer lost both of his parents, we have to be there for them. But we don’t want to put them at risk.”
Educators are also concerned about the conditions students are returning to, stating some schools haven’t been touched since March. They shared pictures with WSFA of classroom mold, loose cords and images showing a crumbling wall.
“If the parents knew some of the conditions the buildings were in they wouldn’t want their children in there,” stated Williams.
Late Monday, MPS Superintendent Dr. Ann Roy Moore met with some of the teachers to attempt to soothe those fears ahead of Tuesday morning.
“[Monday] I met with a group of concerned teachers and I assured them we would address any major concerns and work with all schools,” stated Moore. “We know this is an uneasy time and I want to remind everyone safety is my priority.”
It’s unclear how MPS will fill the hundreds of classrooms that will be without teachers Tuesday.