The Arizona Education Association (AEA) released on July 8 the findings of a survey of AEA members that found eight in 10 respondents agree that schools should reopen only after public health experts determine it is safe to return and with adequate planning and equipment to protect school employees, students, and families from the coronavirus.
The survey of 7,651 educators, including teachers and administrators, was conducted during the week of June 30. When asked to agree or disagree on how school districts should proceed with instruction, over two-thirds of respondents opposed returning to a complete traditional school “brick and mortar” learning environment.
- 68 percent disagreed to returning to a brick and mortar school
- 61 percent agreed to implementing a complete online or distance learning model
- 58 percent agreed to a hybrid model where students attend in person and remotely
While the survey closed on June 30, six in 10 respondents said they did not feel their districts were prepared and ready to re-open schools.
- 73 percent say there’s not enough staff and resources for school cleaning, food service, and bus schedules.
- 72 percent there’s not enough teachers to re-open schools under CDC guidelines and protocols.
- 65 percent their school district is not prepared and ready to re-open.
- 57 percent their school district has not established clear guidance on social distancing procedures.
- 57 percent say their school district has not established clear guidance on health screening procedures.
- 44 percent say their school district has not established clear guidance on mandatory face coverings.
The survey reflects real fears from educators about the coronavirus outbreak in Arizona. Nine in 10 respondents expressed concerns about students and their families contracting the virus.
- 93 percent are concerned about their colleagues contracting the virus
- 92 percent are concerned about their students and their families contracting virus
- 90 percent are concerned about their family’s health and someone in their household contracting the virus
- 88 percent are concerned about their own health and contracting the coronavirus.
While most respondents supported an online or distance learning model rather than traditional brick and mortar school learning environment, just under half of respondents felt schools had enough teachers and resources to implement an online learning model. Many respondents left comments with concerns about how to engage students, meet the needs of students with special needs, and how to ensure students with little or no access to technology will have the opportunity to learn.
If and when school facilities reopen, the following strategies were supported by respondents:
- 96 percent said smaller class sizes will be necessary to enforce social distancing.
- 86 percent said spread out student lunch periods and enforce social distancing during recess and other activities.
- 73 percent said stagger school arrival and/or attendance to enforce social distancing.
93% of respondents said the state should suspend standardized testing until schools return to normal school operations, including requirements on standardized tests like Move on When Reading, the state’s 3rd grade reading retention program.
Educators also voiced other concerns about online instruction, including the need for training, software, and computers. They also questioned who will foot the bill for these additional resources and whether it will be the state, districts, or educators.