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Lee virtual teachers have health concerns returning to classroom in person

Thousands of children in Southwest Florida will go back to the classroom instead of online Monday. That means dozens of teachers are moving too. Parents are concerned teachers with Lee Virtual School will be overwhelmed with bigger class sizes, and the possibility the school district will move their child’s teacher.

President Kevin Daly of the Teachers Association Lee County told us he understands the need for more teachers in school buildings as students return, but the teachers returning to classrooms from LVS are concerned for their health.

Daly says many high-risk teachers heading back to the classroom are worried about safety as COVID-19 cases surge.

“There is a lot of serious concern from the teachers I’ve spoken to about their overall health and well-being related to coming back into the classroom,” Daly said.

Daly says those left behind online could be overwhelmed.

“The teachers that are left may have a heavier workload or more students assigned to them,” Daly said.

The computer is the classroom for Christine Vazquez’s first-grader.

Vazquez says, even through the screen, her daughter’s teacher makes sure she succeeds.

“My daughter has been having trouble since the beginning of the year with reading,” Vasquez said. “She’s been doing well with her especially with the time she takes extra to help her.”

Vasquez fears her daughter’s teacher won’t have that extra time to help, or that her daughter could lose her teacher altogether.

“The instability is the worst, not knowing if one day we’re going to log on,” Vasquez said. “And we’re not going to have a teacher, or what’s going to happen if more kids get dropped in her class, if she’s going to have the time to help the kids the way they need help.”

As more students head back to in-person school, more LVS teachers will go with them. That means more students for those teachers left on LVS.

“She ended up with more first-grade students,” Vasquez said. “Now, with this second time going back, she ended up with 13 second-graders.”

Dozens of LVS parents voiced the same concerns on Facebook.

The School District of Lee County says 6,000 kids are going back to school in person Monday, and 32 Lee Virtual School teachers are set to join them.

The District says the teachers who are at the most risk are staying with LVS, and that limits for class sizes with LVS are two to three times higher than in person classes.

Vazquez says she just hopes her daughter’s teacher stays online and still has the time to make sure each student shines.

“I can’t imagine trying to teach that many children and make sure everyone is learning everything and taking time aside for the ones that need help,” Vazquez said.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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