Arizona teachers are calling for in-person classes to be postponed until at least October, saying, "Remote learning won't kill us but COVID can."
"We don't want any children to get this from us, because as a teacher, I don't want to go to any of their funerals," third-grade teacher Stacy Brosius, 47, told Reuters, adding that she is also not ready to send her own three children back to school.
Brosius, among other educators in Arizona, are petitioning for Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyOSHA faces big challenge with Biden vaccine mandate DeSantis: Local governments will face K fines for imposing vaccine mandates We can't tax-and-spend our way to 'recovery' MORE (R) to push the start of in-person classes to October following the death of a colleague who died from COVID-19 after teaching summer school.
Teachers are planning a significant automobile strike on July 22. They will circle the capitol and governor's office to protest the state's current plans to resume in-person classes at the beginning of the school year while also demanding better funding for the education system.
"This is a core piece of what our educators come together for, which is to demand that schools are properly funded," said Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association (AEA.) "Until we can see that, we are not ready to come back to schools."
The teachers' concern comes as Arizona experiences rising case numbers and the school system prepares to welcome back 1.1 million public school students and 20,000 teachers.
The state's 7-day average of new cases rose dramatically over the past two months, going from an average of 500 cases per week to over 3,000 in July, Reuters reported.
Despite reports from the Arizona Department of Public Health revealing hospital ICU capacity nearing 90 percent this week, Ducey said Thursday he would not be swayed by politics, adding that he would be comfortable sending his children back to in-person classes.
"Our kids are going to be learning in the fall. We are going to do our best to conduct the most positive educational year that we can," Ducey said.
A decision will be finalized next week following rounds of dialogue about the matter with educators from around the state.