JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – As Jeffco Public Schools gears up for school to start back on Monday, CBS4 Investigates has learned many teachers are leaving the district, upset with the hybrid back-to-school plans.
“Interacting with 150 students over a week span, that is more risk than I was willing to take,” said Sam Long, a science teacher who just resigned from his position at Standley Lake High School to teach in a district where he can teach 100% online.
Long says Jeffco’s hybrid model of students learning in-person a couple of days a week and online other days is troublesome for two reasons. He is worried about safety, and he is concerned about how staff must teach both in-person and virtual students simultaneously.
“The expectation across the district now is that we’re teaching both in person students and students that are home at the same time, there is no way that we can give students the proper attention and monitoring that they deserve… there is no way a teacher can do that,” Long said. “So this is something that increases risk for our health, as well gives no benefits in terms of learning, because of this double duty or triple duty that teachers are expected to pull with regard to teaching.”
Long is not alone.
Jeffco says 40 more teachers than last year have resigned or retired this summer, and fewer than 100 teachers have taken the option to take a leave of absence for a year and go back to teaching next year.
At Denver Public Schools, which isn’t starting with in-person until October, fewer teachers have taken a leave of absence this year than last year. Resignation data for Denver Public Schools is not yet available.
Long worries the teacher exodus could negatively affect students.
“We had three staff members that are go-to allies for our LGBTQ students and the GSA… all three of us have resigned or taken a leave this year, and so I’m thinking of what would happen to those students, those most vulnerable students who need an ally in school, because they don’t necessarily have it at home,” Long said.
Long tells CBS4 he and other teachers have tried to voice their concerns, but they feel district leaders have ignored them.
“The Jeffco school board and superintendent need to realize that school health and safety is community health and safety, we’re not in a bubble, so what we do in the school spreads to the greater Jeffco community,” Long said.
Jeffco starts back remotely on Monday and will go to in-person learning on Sept. 8.
Jeffco officials were unavailable for an on-camera interview Friday and have not yet responded to requests for a written comment.