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Teachers could be risking more than health this fall

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Decisions are being made across the state about how schools will resume in the fall. If classes are held in person many teachers are concerned they may not have enough sick time if they contract Covid-19.

5 days of sick leave is typical for teacher contracts in the state, according to the Michigan Education Association, but teachers may find that inadequate if they get covid-19 as they could be looking at having to take over two weeks off.

David Crim is a spokesperson for the MEA, right now he said the group is bargaining with school boards across the state on numerous issues for a safe return in the fall.

“One of those things is additional sick time, it would be shameful if a school employee got sick because of Covid and had to take a loss of pay because of that. They’re putting themselves in danger to begin with, they shouldn’t be penalized financially because they only had five sick days and it takes a whole lot longer to recover,” explained Crim.

Teachers are worried he said, about their health, the health of their loved ones, and the health of their students-- the added financial worries are a lot to carry too. He said with all the uncertainty some teachers are even considering leaving the field entirely.

He said, “there’s a lot to think about it in terms of reopening the schools, and as we’ve seen this virus is not done with us yet. And there’s a lot of teachers who are considering not going back to the profession if they don’t feel safe going back to the classroom.”

Crim said the MEA had recently conducted a survey of its members, he said from that nearly a third of the respondents said they were considering leaving teaching if they don't feel safe returning to their classrooms in the fall. If the poll is representative, he explained, then even if only a fraction of those who said they were considering not returning decided not to, then the state could see a serious teacher shortage this fall in addition to the complications caused by Coronavirus.