LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As the debate over whether to send children back into the classroom continues, teachers Thursday voiced their concerns about the safety of returning to in-person learning.
With almost a full year of remote learning under her belt, Sylvia Ruiz has her set up all figured out.
"So this is my little teaching corner," she said as she walked a camera around the room showing off brightly colored decorations.
But, while on a break from teaching her kindergarten class, she admitted that every day brings a new challenge.
"Technology struggles," she said. "Today my laptop charger just blew out, so I'm on my phone. I've been teaching from my phone today."
And Ruiz is not the only one still learning to adapt to teaching her Palms Elementary School students from home while also caring for her 80-year-old mother.
"My biggest concern would be going back to school, getting possibly exposed either on the way to school or somebody that I work with could possibly be a carrier and not know it, and I bring it home to my elderly mom," she said.
That fear is why Ruiz said she does not feel comfortable heading back into the classroom until she's vaccinated.
First grade teacher Amber Barnett has similar concerns, saying that she wants a vaccination to protect her and her family before returning to campus.
"It just doesn't make any sense to endanger the lives of students and their families just to have them in school," she said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday said schools could reopen safely, even if teachers are not vaccinated, citing data that shows social distancing and mask wearing significantly reduce the spread of the virus.
But Barnett has concerns about the feasibility of distancing in her classroom.
"Right now my class size if 26, and if we are to go into the same structure and into the same classroom that we have always been teaching in with the same number of students, it's impossible to be six feet apart," she said.
In a statement, United Teachers Los Angeles said that "no school in California should reopen in a county that is in the purple tier." The union went on to say that essential workers "who are putting their lives at risk" should be prioritized in the vaccine rollout.
"It's a different setting, but we're doing it," Ruiz said of remote learning. "And, at the same time, we're saving lives."
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