Empty Classroom In Elementary School.
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An Arizona teacher died from the coronavirus in late June.
Kimberley Chavez Lopez Byrd was sharing a classroom with two other teachers for two hours a day to online teach, and despite following safety protocols all three caught the virus.
The two other teachers Jena Martinez and Angela Skillings are arguing that their circumstances show why schools should not reopen in the fall.
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One of three Arizona teachers who were sharing a classroom to conduct online classes caught the novel coronavirus and died. Now her two colleagues are saying it’s too early to reopen schools, CNN reported.
Jena Martinez, Angela Skillings, and Kimberley Chavez Lopez Byrd were sharing a classroom in Arizona for two hours a day so they could online teach — and all had COVID-19 despite wearing masks, using gloves and hand sanitizer, and physically distancing. Byrd, 61, passed away from COVID-19 complications at the end of June.
“We followed everything we were supposed to do,” Martinez told CNN’s Don Lemon. “While we were there, we did distance ourselves.”
According to WWBT, Byrd died on June 26 after being hospitalized for coronavirus.
Martinez and Skillings said despite following those guidelines, they still caught the virus. They believe that it still isn’t safe for schools to reopen on August 17 in Arizona.
“My main thing is if we can’t stay safe, how are our students going to stay safe?” Skillings told WWBT.
WWBT reported that Martinez and Skillings are still struggling with fatigue and coughing from the virus.
“I’m still taking breathing treatments to relieve the tightness in my chest. There is still weakness in my body and fatigue,” Martinez told CNN.
Skillings told CNN she’s concerned that since schools have been closed since March, there’s no way to tell what transmission between students would look like.
“There’s no documentation that children aren’t going to transmit it back and forth in the classroom or that it isn’t going to affect them harshly,” Skillings told CNN. “Our schools are not ready. We are not prepared to open up. We’re supposed to open up on the 17th of August, and there’s no way that even the teachers are ready for that to happen.”
President Donald Trump has pushed for schools to reopen. Business Insider’s Eliza Relman reported last week that Trump threatened to “cut off funding” for school districts that don’t reopen. He’s claimed that efforts to keep schools closed and online in the fall were “political” and not based on limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Trump was asked about Byrd’s death and avoided the question to further push for reopening schools, Business Insider reported.
A reporter asked the President: “What do you tell parents, who look at this, who look at Arizona where a teacher recently died teaching summer school, parents who are worried about the safety of their children in public schools?”
Trump responded: “Schools should be opened. Those kids want to go to school. You’re losing a lot of lives by keeping things closed. We saved millions of lives while we did the initial closure.”
While different districts have taken different approaches to classes in the fall, from hybrid online and in-person classes, online-only, or entirely in person, health experts worry about the spread of the virus in schools.
California’s two largest school districts, the Los Angeles and San Diego unified school systems, announced on Monday that they’ll be starting off the fall semester with online-only classes until it’s safe to resume in-person classes.
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