Our sister site Campus Safety cites a recent report which found that many Texas schools are not following state coronavirus safety guidelines.
The Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) distributed a survey and found more than 650 of its members from 135 districts reported issues in 12 categories, including inadequate ventilation, lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies, and short-sighted sick leave policies that discourage sick employees from staying home, reports Spectrum Local News.
Most concerning, says TSTA, are insufficient accommodations for employees or their family members who are at high risk.
“The biggest issue our members are raising involves inadequate accommodations for high-risk employees or those with high-risk dependents at home,” said TSTA President Ovidia Molina. “These teachers with underlying health conditions should be allowed to teach remotely from home, but in many cases, they are being required to teach from their classrooms or risk losing their jobs.”
Below are the 12 categories and the total number of violations reported by Texas educators in the survey:
- Non-compliance with mask mandate: 246
- Inadequate classroom social distancing: 385
- Inadequate ventilation or ventilation equipment: 401
- Inadequate protective supplies (masks, etc.): 357
- Inadequate access to cleaning/sanitation supplies: 243
- Insufficient accommodations for high-risk school employees or family members: 435
- Lack of school quarantine space or process: 247
- Inadequate or inequitable availability of distance-learning resources for students: 238
- Inadequate district sick leave policies: 337
- Inadequate mitigation policies for lunch or transportation: 255
- Lack of health/safety policy enforcement: 268
- Insufficient staffing for new measures and protocols: 370
According to Austin Independent School District officials, HVAC systems are being updated at multiple campuses and the district is in the process of changing out air filters. Additional air filters and air movers are also reportedly being placed in corridors and hallways to improve circulation.
Personally, I cannot help but feel there is an opportunity for some of these violations to be lessened with the help of technology. We’ve seen increased monitoring with AI that’s used to help detect physical distancing and mask wearing violations; systems which can alert staff as to when and where a violation occurs.
AI in schools produces its own set of challenges and drawbacks, but similar systems — which, importantly, do not store data about those being monitored — could be considered.
Suffice it to say, some compromises need to be made, especially where the health of children and school staff is concerned.