Survey: Most Nebraska educators don’t believe schools are ready to reopen safely

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KCAU) – A new survey shows that less than half of Nebraska educators believe schools can safely reopen for in-person teaching in the fall.

The Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA) conducted the survey in the state, questioning more than 3,000 Nebraska educators.

Just 48% of teachers in the state believe their schools will be ready to safely open in the fall. The 48% is composed of 33% who said the school will be somewhat likely and 15% saying very likely. Eighteen percent said it was not at all likely to safely reopen and 34% said not very likely.

In Douglas and Lancaster Counties respectively, only 31 and 32 percent say it will be safe to open.

More than 80 percent of respondents said that concern for personal safety and concern for student safety as the top two reasons why they do not feel ready to return to in-person teaching and learning.

See the full survey results below.

NSEA President Jenni Benson said teachers and parents are apprehensive about whether schools are ready to transition to in-person teaching.

“Educators are deeply concerned about the health and safety of their students, families and themselves,” Benson said.

Even with a majority of teachers believing they won’t be able to reopen safely, 55% said they think they will personally be ready to return in the fall based on current trends and their district’s plans.

Most teachers (52%) said they think reopening schools with proper safety precautions is better, compared to 42% who said schools should remain closed while continuing distance learning until there is a vaccine and 6% who said schools should reopen without any modifications.

Benson said that school districts should implement a range of safety measures as outlined in the guidance from the Nebraska Department of Education in the fall, including the daily sanitation of schools, requiring students and staff to wash their hands regularly, and having sanitizer and enough cleaning supplies available throughout buildings.

“We call on school districts to adhere to CDC and local health department guidelines, to monitor their community’s risk dial and to respond appropriately. This means requiring masks and limiting groupings of students to provide for recommended physically distancing. For some, it will mean moving to distance learning or a hybrid model of in-person and distance learning instruction.”

Benson added that teachers understand the realities of their classrooms and know what is best for their classrooms.

A separate survey of retired educators showed that 33% of those who substitute taught last year were willing to teach again this year and 46% saying they are not yet sure if they will. The top two reasons for those who said they are not returning said it is do to being in a high-risk age-group as well as general concern for safety.

The NSEA said that retired reachers are usually a primary source for substitute teachers.

Since retired teachers are a primary source of substitute teachers for school systems across the state, this will put even greater stress on school systems as teachers exposed to COVID-19 are quarantined due to exposure or illness. See the results for that survey below.

Below are a list of resources that provide guidance for school.

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