WEST LINN, Oregon (KPTV) — Even with Oregon’s educators becoming eligible to get the vaccine Monday, a group of teachers in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District says it’s still too soon to go back to the classroom.
“We’re here because we care about our entire community, we care about our fellow colleagues, we care about our students and we care about our students’ families,” 6th grade math and science teacher Steffany Pacheco said.
Two weeks ago the West Linn-Wilsonville school board unanimously approved a hybrid model reopening timeline that puts kindergarteners back in the classroom Feb. 8, followed by staggered start dates for grades one through five in the weeks following.
But a group of teachers says hundreds of the district’s educators have expressed concern, including that those start dates don’t allow enough time for teachers in those grade levels to get both vaccine doses, which takes three to four weeks, and that they want more vulnerable community members to be vaccinated first as well.
“Our children live in multi-generational homes, we are not separate from our community, and if seniors and teachers are not both protected then there will be really dangerous community spread to elders,” 8th grade Language Arts teacher Ty Marshall said.
The teachers said they miss being in the classroom and want to return to school but not at the potential cost of spreading COVID-19.
“If we can just wait four more weeks, six more weeks, just to make sure that we are doing our part to minimize community spread, I think that’s a big part in our role as caregivers of a community or within a community,” Pacheco said.
They’re also concerned about the disproportionate impact of the virus. For example in Clackamas County, only 11 percent of the county’s population is Hispanic but they make up 28 percent of the county’s COVID-19 cases.
The teachers say that kind of data needs to be addressed in reopening plans.
When the board adopted the district’s reopening timeline, the superintendent said plans could change.
The school board has another meeting Monday night, and this topic is on the agenda.
FOX 12 reached out to the district and the board chair Sunday night to see if they expect to make changes and if they have a response to these teachers’ concerns but so far, but have not yet heard back.
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