WCPSS survey: Most teachers uncomfortable returning to school at start of year

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- In a virtual work session Tuesday, the Wake County Public School System school board discussed updates from district staff, including the results of a survey sent to the more than 20,000 school-based staff.

AJ Mutillo, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for WCPSS, said more than half of those staff members responded to the survey, 63 percent of whom are teachers.

While most respondents said they would choose a blended learning model for their school next year to incorporate a rotation of at-home and in-person instruction, the majority of respondents said they would be most comfortable starting the school year with remote learning and evaluating bringing students and staff back into the buildings as the year got underway.



Mutillo said slightly more than half of those surveyed said they or someone they live with or care for are considered high risk for COVID-19.



"I would be very surprised if we would not see an increase in retirements particularly given that we learned 50 percent of our staff either are at high risk or have family members who are at high risk," said Jim Martin, board member.

Mutillo said that so far, his team is seeing normal retirement and resignation numbers, but they'll be monitoring that closely as they tend to see an uptick in retirements every July.

WCPSS has been seeking input from the school community through Board Advisory Council focus sessions.

"Health and safety, paramount," said board member Bill Fletcher of his input session. "That's the basis on which I believe parents will make a decision of how they will choose to engage the public school system, or not."

Chris Heagarty mentioned the feedback he's received from teachers in his BAC input sessions.

"The debate even from some teachers about how the mask can interfere with their teaching and wondering if there were alternatives like face shields or something else that would allow students to see a face, see a motion, but still offer some protection," he said.

Though parents of younger students were more supportive of sending students back to a brick-and-mortar setting, parents of older children seemed to be more comfortable with remote learning, according to the feedback board member Heather Scott said she received.

Board member Lindsay Mahaffey said a major theme from parents in her feedback sessions was the need for the district to offer more streamlined consistency in how it is communicating its reopening plans.

The WCPSS school board will have another work session Wednesday.
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