FORT BEND COUNTY – A letter from the Fort Bend ISD superintendent was the equivalent of a bombshell for perhaps thousands of parents in the district.
On Friday, Dr. Charles Dupre wrote that the district faced “significant staffing issues” and “may not be able to offer” special education programs at campuses. The reason: teachers previously committed to those face-to-face classes have changed their minds.
"I think it says that teachers are afraid to come back," said Glenda Guzman Macal, president of the Fort Bend American Federation of Teachers.
Guzman Macal said she has spoken to many educators who are afraid of being exposed to COVID-19. She said they love and miss their students, but the timing is just not right.
“To ask teachers, administrative staff, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, admin staff to put their lives at stake,” she said. “For this is just a little bit too much to ask.”
The district also announced in Friday’s letter they received more than 10,000 requests for seats in the district’s planned learning centers, which are facilities where students would be monitored in socially-distanced spaces for their online learning. However, the district said there is not enough space to accommodate those requests.
Priority will go to students who are homeless or in foster care, those without internet access, and children of teachers without other childcare options.
The lack of space will force many parents to consider their own new options.
"It would be great if some of those jobs can work with those parents to help with the process of keeping and teaching them at home," said Leverne Moore, a grandmother who lives in Fort Bend County.
The letter also said the district and individual campuses would be reaching out to parents over the next few days to make sure they have plans in place by the time school starts on August 17.