SAGINAW, Texas - One North Texas school board did an about-face after hearing emotional pleas not to start school in-person.
The decision came after Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD trustees heard hours of public comment from teachers, parents and students. Most of them said they were worried about their safety.
Before the special board meeting Thursday night, a group of teachers protested the district’s reopening plan.
Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD had planned to offer both in-person and remote learning options on the first day.
That led to an online petition calling for the district to follow a Tarrant County health order and wait until the end of September to bring students back into the classrooms.
Many teachers spoke at the meeting. One said her 26-year-old son almost died when he came down with COVID-19 in June.
“For four nights, I cried and cried thinking my child was going to die. I did not sleep checking on him every night to make sure he was breathing. It’s terrifying and horrible,” said Marjorie Ehrman, a teacher at Chisholm Trail High School. “It’s a horrible feeling thinking your child is going to die.”
Ehrman’s son eventually recovered.
“If my situation would have happened during the school session I would have gone to work for seven days after being exposed without knowing I was exposed. We are not asking for a safer option. We are asking for the safest option,” she said.
One parent shared her personal experience with COVID-19, saying her entire family got sick in May.
“My 3 and 9-year-old, I probably would have sent them to school. I would have sent him to pre-K. He had a little bit of a cough, a little stuffy nose and a 100.4 fever for one day. I would have waited 24 hours and sent them to school not knowing that they could spread the virus,” said Laura Lee, a parent of three students.
A popular teacher even resigned during public comment.
“I feel the words this evening have fallen on deaf ears and so tonight I respectfully offer you my resignation. For I need to take care of my family,” Rebecca Asher said.
Just a few people told trustees they supported sending students back into the classroom on the first day.
“I encourage the board to stand strong in their decision to offer a choice from day one,” said Teresa Willis, a parent.
After listening to more than two hours of comments, the board voted to start with only virtual learning on Aug. 20. In-person learning will resume on Sept. 8.
At least two other Tarrant County school districts – Keller ISD and Carroll ISD – are still offering in-person learning on the first day of school.