LISTEN: Anchorage union president says teachers are concerned about returning to classrooms

An East High School teacher places a “School is closed” sign in his classroom window in March. (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

There remains great concern among teachers in the state’s largest school district about plans to return kids to classrooms in the fall.

The Anchorage School District last week rolled out a plan for two days of in-person, classroom instruction per week, with online learning three days a week. The use of classrooms would be staggered, with students put into different groups based on the first letters of their last names, and the school day would be shorter, too.

Related: Fewer classroom days, shorter hours and face masks: Anchorage School District announces plan for next month

But with Covid-19 cases on the rise in Anchorage and elsewhere in Alaska, and the first day of school, Aug. 20, a little more than a month out, some parents and teachers think the district’s plan is not cautious enough.

Corey Aist is president of the Anchorage Education Association, the union that represents about 3,200 teachers, librarians, nurses and others in Anchorage. Aist spoke to Alaska Public Media’s Casey Grove, and he says he’s hearing from teachers that definitely want to get back to classroom teaching, eventually, but are currently more worried about their safety and the safety of students.