Bridgeport teacher says in-person learning puts her, her students at risk of getting COVID-19

Coronavirus

CONNECTICUT (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont still thinks districts should offer in-person learning this upcoming school year, but some teacher’s unions and teachers are concerned.

“Look, I’m an overweight, Black woman with hypertension,” said Bridgeport teacher, Michelle King-Vasquez. “Guess what? I walk in there and I’m high risk.”

If she is told to go back to school, the sixth-grade teacher doesn’t think it’s safe for her mostly low income, mostly minority students either.

She finds little comfort in the governor’s stance that schools are ready to start in-person classes in three weeks.

Lamont made his case in Litchfield County on Tuesday, highlighting Winchester Public Schools (WPS) where staff there say they’re ready to return.

“If Connecticut can’t get their kids back into the classroom safely, no state can,” Lamont said. “We’re in a unique position to be able to do that. We’ve worked really hard. We’ve been wearing our masks. We’ve showed the social discipline we need. We’ve kept our infection rate one of the lowest in the country.”

“I feel confident with the plan going forward,” said WPS’ Lisa Whipple. “I feel confident in the safety measures they have taken

But as Lamont made his case in the northwestern part of the stat, teachers unions elsewhere were raising what they saw as red flags.

The Connecticut Education Association said its members are not confident schools can open in the fall for in-person classes if this is the kind of ventilation they must rely on.

“What’s going to happen in Windham or Torrington is not happening here,” King-Vasquez said. “These are children that are going home to poverty.”

Lamont said though he wants all students to have the option of in-person classes, he’s giving a lot of leeway to local districts to make their own back to school decisions. For example, in New Haven, the board of education wants to start with remote learning until October.

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