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Virginia Beach teachers and parents oppose return to in-person learning

Virginia Beach residents are voicing their concerns about a potential return to in-person instruction.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — On Sunday, a group of teachers, parents and students attended a virtual rally and expressed their concerns about a potential return to in-person learning.

During the rally, teachers said they want to stay virtual until Covid-19 cases go down in Virginia Beach.

Facebook group 'Virginia Beach Educators United' hosted the virtual rally to voice their opposition to in-person learning.

Virginia Beach City Public School teachers voiced their concerns. Peter Ayala was one of them.

“The safety and the well being has to be at the forefront, and it can’t be there if the staff can’t keep their mental health... if they can’t keep feel comfortable in doing their job," said Ayala.

Some parents, like Tonya Rivers said they will stick to virtual learning due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in Virginia Beach.

“Regardless of what happens I will not be sending my children back in that condition," said Rivers.

Jayna Saltisiak, a student, said she's also concerned.
“I had so many great teachers and school counselors, and I don’t want any of them to risk getting sick," said Saltisiak.

On Tuesday, Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence proposed a return to the classroom for pre-K through, 6th grade and some special education students. The plan to return would be for January 19th. Doctors and health officials have said schools are not driving the spread of Covid-19.

Ann Bowerman, a VBCPS nurse said going back to school may cause other teachers to resign.

“Some were tearful when talking about their fear of spreading illness to their loved ones. My concern is this continued stress and anxiety will cause many staff to leave or retire early," said Bowerman.

Kaitlin Jensen said she’s one of the teachers who decided to step away.

“I left the division in early October in large part due to how the pandemic was being handled," said Jensen.

Jensen joined the Virginia Beach Educators United. Now, she wants others to understand the plan for in-person instruction is not final.

“We’re trying to continue to rally people to make sure they realize the school board does need to make a decision. The plan that Dr. Spence put out last week to the school board during a workshop has to be voted on," said Jensen.

Jensen hopes her concerns are heard at the next Virginia Beach school board meeting vote on Tuesday.