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Texas Teachers Resist School Reopening Plan as Coronavirus Cases Spike

Newsweek logo Newsweek 6/19/2020 Jeffery Martin
a group of people wearing costumes: Texas' plans to allow students to return to school in August without being required to wear facial coverings or undergo testing for coronavirus has drawn strong criticism from two teachers' unions within the state. © iStock/Getty Texas' plans to allow students to return to school in August without being required to wear facial coverings or undergo testing for coronavirus has drawn strong criticism from two teachers' unions within the state.

Texas' plans to allow students to return to school in August without being required to wear facial coverings or undergo testing for coronavirus has drawn strong criticism from two teachers' unions within the state. On Thursday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 2,947 individuals had been hospitalized with the infection, the highest number in a week.

Despite the current rise in cases, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a Thursday statement that returning to school in the fall would be "safe." However, representatives from the Texas American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) say returning to school without proper coronavirus mitigation protocols would place both students and teachers in danger.

"Texas AFT says a big 'Hell No' to what looks like a return to normal in August," said Texas AFT President Zeph Capo in a Thursday statement. "We are not in normal times. We won't sacrifice our members and students for politics."

Capo said Morath's comments did not "inspire confidence" and that masks need to be used "whenever possible."

"Morath is following in the footsteps of the governor, who is expanding reopenings and loosening requirements in the face of growing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations," the statement read.

TSTA President Noel Candelaria said in a Thursday statement that it should be a requirement that "all students, employees and anyone visiting a school have a mask available and be given temperature checks and other observations for COVID-19 symptoms before entering."

Candelaria also said school staff members should be involved in the state government's plan to reopen schools because they "have to work in school buildings. The governor and the state education commissioner don't."

Newsweek reached out to the Texas Education Agency for comment. This story will be updated with any response.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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