STRATFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Some teachers in Stratford are scared they can not safely teach this school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Their union leadership says the district is not supplying them with the correct cleaning supplies and protective gear. The superintendent disagrees.
Teachers told News 8 Wednesday, each classroom has a gallon of hand sanitizer and each student and teacher were provided cloth face masks. However, teachers say there are problems with the cleaning wipes and face shields.
We spoke with Bunnell High School physics teacher, Kristen Record who is also a union leader. She tells us some teachers got commercial-grade face shields while others looked handmade.
She also pointed out that teachers were promised Clorox wipes, (which are approved by the CDC to clean for COVID-19), but they were given alcoholic ones instead.
Record says supplies change depending on the school and she’s frustrated by the lack of consistency district-wide.
“I think the bottom line is that teachers are just really scared. Especially because we’re getting a lot of mixed messages between what the district says is acceptable, and what the Department of Public Health says is acceptable and what the CDC says is acceptable. And right now I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to use the highest standard of safety available and that’s what teachers are seeking because we want to keep ourselves safe and we want to keep our students safe,” said Record.
Superintendent of Stratford Schools, Dr. Janet Robinson said, “I believe that we have covered all the bases in terms of PPE and sanitizing and we have set up times for no people in the building and the buildings can be extra sanitized. Touch surfaces are being done. We’re doing everything we possibly can.”
The superintendent says she just heard from the Union Wednesday. She says the Department of Public Health stated to her the alcohol wipes are sufficient for desks. And when it comes to the face shields, she says this was the first she heard about it.
However, Nancy Andrews from CEA told News 8 Wednesday the superintendent did know about the face shield issue before this week: “The union leaders shared their concerns, all of them, with the superintendent last week. Then they emailed her starting on Friday and BOE members were also copied on the emails.”
Thursday is a deep cleaning day and another round of orientation with students is slated to start for Thursday.
This is not a unique problem to Stratford. The CEA spokesperson said they’ve heard from at least 12 districts where teachers believe they don’t have the right supplies to keep everyone safe and they’re trying to work out those issues.
On Thursday, the superintendent told News 8 one of their staff members tested positive for COVID-19 Monday after being exposed to the virus when visiting a family member Friday.
Robinson says the staff member is symptom-free and quarantined, and adds “her exposure was non-school-related and she was never in school following exposure.”