Amphitheater tells employees to work from school during remote learning; many push back

Amphi Teacher Petition

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - While the State of Arizona is allowing more flexibility with “when and how” students return to class, many area teachers are being told to report to work.

On Monday, July 20, Amphitheater Public Schools sent out an email saying, “All staff are being requested to report in person on their regularly scheduled report time for training on changes required by COVID-19. Remote instruction for students begins on Monday, August 10.”

The email goes on to list the reasons why, citing internet and material access, software privacy and teachers being present during contracted work hours.

“We already heard about the case in Maricopa County where the one teacher died, and she was only teaching with two other teachers,” said Barbara Anderson, a library assistant at Innovation Academy. “This is talking about all staff coming back to campus, and not only all staff, but staff bringing their children.”

Anderson’s husband serves in the military and is currently on deployment, so, she says bringing her children to work is her only option. She adds it is a scary one.

“With my [8-year-old] son having [had] cancer and being immunocompromised for so long, I don’t want to expose my son any more than I have to,” she said.

Anderson agrees teachers should be allowed back on campus if they lack the resources to do their job. However, she believes she can perform her job better at home and says she would like to have the option. So, Anderson started a petition.

“When this petition first came out, there were some comments that I got that were like, ‘Well that’s not fair because other [essential workers] have to go back’,” she said. “Exactly! Nurses, I understand. COVID-19 nurses: you cannot work from home, but let’s help those nurses out. If you care about them, lets help them out by staying home and not adding to their case load. I think it’s the kindest, most professional thing we can do.”

Kold News 13 reached out to Amphitheater Public Schools and received the following statement:

“We believe that our employees are safe at work. Teachers will be working alone in large classrooms, unless they choose to bring their own children with them. We have cleaning and sanitization measures in place, and we trust our employees to follow District and local health department guidelines to remain socially distant, wear masks as required by county mandate, wash their hands and to avoid reporting to work if they are ill. Teachers who feel they are eligible for an accommodation may participate in the District’s interactive process for requesting one.”

“I do not agree with the district’s decision to require all employees to work in person at their site when online learning begins,” said Nathan Davis, a candidate running for Amphitheater’s Governing Board. “Amphi employees should have the option, when possible, to work from home. While the coronavirus epidemic in Arizona does appear to be getting better, the disease is still a major a major health concern in our community. Our teachers, counselors, and all educators in Amphi are amazing professionals. Every single one of them learned so much so quickly about remote teaching last quarter. We should listen to our amazing Amphi employees and allow them to teach remotely from their home when online learning begins on August 10. As Governor Ducey said [on Thursday] during his press conference, we are safer at home.”

“Just let us do our jobs in the most effective, safe manner possible,” said Anderson.

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