Texas teachers to Gov. Abbott: Keep schools closed to prevent longer closures

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- While Texans wait to hear Gov. Greg Abbott's plan to reopen businesses across the state, teachers want the governor to close their campuses to in-person learning for the rest of the school year.

In a letter sent Thursday, the Texas American Federation of Teachers expressed the need to keep public schools closed and for educators to focus on returning in the fall.

SEE ALSO: When will schools reopen across Texas?

"We certainly do not undertake this request lightly, as our members want to be back in their classrooms educating students," wrote Zeph Capo, president of the teachers' group. "However, given the nature of the virus, we are deeply concerned that a brief reopening of schools in May could result in longer-term closures due to a spread of infections."

Capo wrote later in the letter:

"Our members see their work as a calling. Throughout the past month, educators and support staff have gone beyond the call of duty. From our teachers changing to distance learning practically overnight to our food service workers feeding our communities, public-school employees have stepped up to the challenge presented by COVID-19.

However, our members also realize that prematurely returning to schools would threaten the health and safety of all on campus. The threat of a school-wide outbreak and the ripple effects necessitate the continued closure of schools until we know with certainty that our children and all school staff are safe."

The governor is slated to announce Friday an executive order laying out a plan for state businesses to emerge from a practical shutdown of life for the last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it's unclear before his scheduled announcement how he'll deal with schools, at least one school district in the Houston area - Fort Bend ISD - decided it will stay with distance learning through the end of the school year.

In addition, other school districts have already decided on how it wants to honor graduating seniors by both in-person and virtual ceremonies.

Still, if the state recommends campuses to slowly reopen to students and teachers, the risk of infection still looms, as had been indicated with several positive cases involving administrators and staffers around the area.

SEE ALSO: Montgomery ISD principal tests positive for coronavirus
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