Many teachers facing dilemma returning to in-person learning

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – With schools returning to in-person classes soon, some teachers are facing a difficult choice; their career or their or their loved one’s health.

It seems like an impossible decision. Choosing between your career or possibly exposing yourself or loved ones to COVID-19, especially if they have serious health concerns. But if teachers don’t return to in-person classes it could cost them their job.

“I think people are going to have to make really uncomfortable decisions whether or not they stay in the profession,” said John Larson.

The President of Oregon’s largest teachers union, the Oregon Education Association, told NBC5 News most teachers want to return to campus to see their students. However, many face health concerns.

The state is now prioritizing getting teachers vaccinated, but even if all of them get it people who get vaccinated can still carry and spread the disease to others.

“There’s going to be those educators who fall into the risk categories, who live with people who’re high risk. I think working collaboratively to figure out what accommodations can we make for those individuals to keep them safe,” said Larson.

Individual school districts are determining the best way to go back to in-person learning.

“We have to recognize we play a role in our county and not just to our staff, but who our staff is connected to,” said Casey Alderson.

Three Rivers School District HR Director, Casey Alderson, said the district is working with Josephine County Public Health to make sure schools will be as clean as possible when the campus opens up completely.

“We do have staff that does have concerns and those are concerns that they have to make choices on,” said Alderson

OEA’s Larson doesn’t believe teachers could be fired for not showing up to the classroom over COVID-19 concerns.

Much of how this will play out at the state level is still being determined, but for now, it’s up to each district.

The Oregon Education Association tells educators to work with their unions to find the best options moving forward.

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