The start of the next school year is rapidly approaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are wondering if students and teachers will return to classrooms or continue online learning. A statewide survey found that nearly 8 out of 10 Arizona teachers are planning to return to their classrooms amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The survey conducted by Expect More Arizona in partnership with the Arizona State Board of Education found that of the nearly 11,000 teachers who responded, 79% said they plan to return to teaching and 18 percent are still undecided. Most are concerned though.
“Teachers, just like the broader community, are concerned about opening up and the risks associated with that,” Christine Thompson, executive director of Expect More Arizona said.
More than half of teachers are concerned about their safety and health and that of their students when they return for the new school in July and August.
More than a third of teachers also are concerned about the mental health of their students as schools reopen.
“The things that teachers want to feel comfortable in returning to school include a requirement that students, teachers, and staff stay home when they’re sick,” Thompson said. “Three-quarters said that was important.”
The majority of teachers also said strict sanitation procedures and access to cleaning products in the classrooms were important. And more than half said clear protocols and procedures for staff, parents, and students were important, along with professional cleaning of classrooms every day.
Forty-two percent of teachers also expressed support for limiting large gatherings, doing daily temperature checks and requiring face masks. Middle and high school teachers tended to place a higher priority on face masks and social distancing while elementary school teachers thought professional cleaning and limiting school visitors were bigger priorities.
The survey was conducted right as the school year was ending, from May 20-31. Around that time, Gov. Doug Ducey also announced schools would reopen for the next school year after ordering them to close in mid-March as a way to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
By the time teachers responded to the survey, the majority expressed they had not been included in plans to reopen schools for the new school year.
“I think that if we asked that question today, the response would be different,” Thompson said, adding she believes more teachers have been involved in school planning conversations since the survey was conducted.
Click here to view the full study from Expect More Arizona.