Some school frontline workers fearful as in-person classes set to resume

Texas schools' reopening making frontline workers concerned
Texas schools' reopening making frontline wor... 02:03

Last Updated Aug 19, 2020 7:06 PM EDT

A new survey finds that only one in seven parents say their children are going back to school full-time this fall. Moreover, four out of five parents say they have no one to help their children with remote learning from home.

But it's not just parents who are worried about the new school year. School workers are also expressing their concerns.

In San Antonio, Linton Elementary School Principal Marty Ortega is making the rounds on a school bus, addressing concerns for the new school year. Classes at Northside Independent School District are slated to begin online Monday.

Ortega would like kids back in the classroom, but school has never looked like this: adults and students in masks, signs for social distancing, sanitizer stations and desks with protective plastic barriers.

Even with all the safety measures, a dozen frontline workers told CBS News they're concerned. They wouldn't go on camera for fear of retaliation. 

Since May 28, 88 workers in the Northside District have tested positive for the virus.

"We haven't met as a group or even talked online or whatever as to the procedures that we're going to have," said Penny Halpenny, who has driven a bus for the district for 45 years.

The 76-year-old asked the school board about PPE supplies for bus drivers, but her main concern is the district is not taking student's temperatures before they get on the bus.

"We're the first ones that pick up the students, regardless of whether we know they have a temperature or not, they're supposed to get on our bus and go to school," said Halpenny.

The district told CBS News that workers will sanitize every bus every time students are dropped off at school.

"I'd rather be here and know that I got these five kids under control than to send them back to school," said Roberto Font, whose five grandchildren will start school online for the first nine weeks.

"My biggest concern if I send them to school and one of them gets sick," said Font. "And I don't know, they may bring it home, and then I get sick, who's going to take care of these kids?" 

Ortega said her school is preparing, but there is no lesson plan for a pandemic.

"Are we going to be basically the greatest social science experiment that this country has ever seen?" CBS News asked the principal.

"I don't know. I hope not," said Ortega.

  • Omar Villafranca
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    Omar Villafranca is a CBS News correspondent based in Dallas.