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Teachers unions say educators still split on masking in schools

Published: Oct. 9, 2021 at 9:04 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 9, 2021 at 10:59 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As COVID numbers decline, more schools across Alabama are dropping the mask requirement in the classroom, with the latest being Hoover City Schools.

Officials with the Central Alabama American Federation for Teachers said educators are conflicted. President Marrianne Hayward said some teachers think mask mandates are too distracting for students and take away instruction time because they are constantly having to ask kids to pull their masks up.

But, Hayward said many teachers still have health concerns themselves or within their families. She said many say they don’t feel as safe when masks aren’t required, because many students still aren’t vaccinated.

“I think they wish they were being asked about it a little more,” Hayward said. “Teachers have valuable insight on the best way to manage this and I don’t think their opinion is being considered at all.”

“We have always been a believer that the more data you put into a decision, the better off you are, so we would encourage any school system to let all your stakeholders weigh in, and your staff are among the top of that list,” Alabama Education Association representative William Tunnell said.

Hayward said she worries all of the back and forth on masking could cause more teachers to leave the field after this school year, but she has not heard reports of this yet.

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