'I don't think it's safe': Cumberland County teachers worried about in-class option for upcoming semester

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Friday, July 17, 2020
Cumberland Co. teachers worry about in-class option
"They're holding meetings on Zoom, telling us that it's safe for us to enter the classroom with everyone's children," one Cumberland County teacher said.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cumberland County teachers are concerned about the upcoming "Plan B" layout that will consist of some teachers and students returning to classrooms.

On Tuesday evening, Cumberland County Schools administration held a Facebook live town hall where they discussed the three options available for students to enroll in. In addition, they answered questions and concerns.

Donna Wiles, a current math teacher at Reid Ross Classical High School, was watching the town hall, taking everything district leaders were saying with a grain of salt.

"They're holding meetings on Zoom, telling us that it's safe for us to enter the classroom with everyone's children," Wiles said.

She, like many faculty, parents, and students, was expecting to start her year-round classes on July 9. They were planning to hold them remotely; however, the day before school was supposed to start, the school district notified everyone that they would be following the traditional calendar.

"When you begin to start looking a little bit deeper, I don't think it's sustainable, I don't think it's operational, and I don't think it's safe," Wiles noted.

RELATED: Cumberland County Schools parents prepare for upcoming school year as COVID-19 concerns grow

Parents of Cumberland County students have just a few more days to decide the style of learning for their kids this upcoming school year.

Wiles has worked at CCS for 16 years, spending seven of those years at Reid Ross High School. At this time, Wiles doesn't know if she'll be working in-class or online or a bit of both. She's worried it could pose a health risk to herself and others.

Meanwhile, Radiah Johnson, a longtime substitute teacher at CCS, is hoping she'll have a job next month. She's filled in at several schools for the last 13 years. Johnson tells ABC11 she believes the school board needs to decide to go completely online for the foreseeable future.

"Sending them in there now is really going to be a game-changer, and it's not going to be good," Johnson said.

Johnson's 8th-grade daughter, Ahleah, is eager to go back to school because she considers herself a visual learner; however, Johnson knows it's not the smart move for anybody.

"I think the kids are not going to be focused on class, they're going to be focused on all of the safety stuff that's going on around them. Um, I just, I think it's a mess," Johnson said.

Other CCS teachers ABC11 spoke to off-camera also shared the same sentiments. They're all wanting more transparency from the school board on how they're making these decisions and if they should expect more changes to come.

Wiles understands this is a very difficult decision to make, but she adds that teachers won't be what fixes this pandemic.

"It's not that we're lazy, and it's not that we don't want to work, it's that we want to work in a safe environment," Wiles said.

Wiles went on to say that she's voiced her concerns to the school district but is still awaiting a response.

Parents and students have until July 19 to enroll in one of the three options on the district's website.