CHANDLER, AZ — Valley teachers with one public charter school are planning a walkout Monday as their district plans to return to in-person classes.
“I’m not gonna lie, I’m very scared I’m going to lose my job right now,” said Pamela Larson. “It’s definitely a place that up until now I’ve been very proud to work at.”
Larson is a teacher with Legacy Traditional Schools.
Legacy Traditional Schools is a multi-state public charter school system known for its accelerated course work and challenging curriculum.
“I moved there because I wanted the high expectations for the teachers, for the parents, for the students, for everybody,” said Larson.
However, she says as the district plans to return to in-person learning next week and her expectations for safety haven’t been met.
“We got an email saying all of our cleaning supplies were on back-order, we have no hand sanitizer, all of my Clorox wipes are gone, there’s no paper towels, there’s no hand soap,” said Larson in disbelief when she returned to the classroom this week.
Larson says she and her colleagues are concerned about class sizes and the lack of ability to properly social distance in classrooms.
Throughout the summer teachers were told they’d have the option to teach online or in person.
Now they are required to do both.
“We just don’t understand why these online students are not being given a separate online teacher and we are pretty much being told to forget about our online learners starting Monday,” said Larson.
She says teachers are given three hours a week to assist online learners, grade assignments, and organize lesson plans. The rest is to be focused on those attending in person.
Larson sent a letter to parents explaining to her online learning families why she would be unavailable for assistance most days.
Next Monday, she’ll take it a step further by refusing to attend the first day of class.
“A lot of us decided that it was time to move forward and it could be five of us, or it could be 105 of us,” said Larson.
A number of teachers have already resigned from the district in Chandler, Surprise, and Glendale.
With students stepping foot on campus in just four days, she’s not sure what will happen next.
“We’re not in school because we are fighting for the safety of our students, we’re fighting for what they deserve,” said Larson. “It takes that trust away, is it going to be safe next week, is it going to be safe when the kids are there, are we gonna make them keep their masks on, are we going to abide by the rules from here forward?”
Legacy Traditional Schools sent us this statement:
“Legacy Traditional Schools has worked extensively to develop a comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation plan that we believe will allow our students and teachers to return to the classroom safely. This plan includes universal face-covering requirements for students, teachers and staff members; social distancing; enhanced sanitation protocols and other safeguards. Notably, parents will retain the option to continue remote learning for their children, if they choose. The decision to provide a choice between in-person or remote learning was made in response to overwhelming demand from Legacy families – many of whom have expressed their preference for in-person instruction or say they are simply unable to continue with remote learning due to employment constraints or other challenges.
“Additionally, our teachers will be facilitating learning for in-person and online students. This will allow for fewer students in the classroom and greater physical distancing. While we are confident this approach is the best option for students and teachers alike, we know that there will be a transition period. As we’ve expressed to our teachers, we’re committed to the continuous improvement of our instructional offerings while maintaining the health and safety of our schools.”
- Matthew Benson, spokesperson, Legacy Traditional Schools