Teachers classified as essential workers, could stay in classroom if exposed to COVID-19

Posted at 6:38 AM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 07:38:51-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/AP) — New guidance from President Donald Trump’s administration declares teachers to be “critical infrastructure workers.”

Once someone is classified as an essential worker, they could be told they must still go to work even if they’ve been around someone who tested positive for COVID-19 as long as they don’t show symptoms. Keeping teachers without symptoms in the classroom raises the risk that they will spread the respiratory illness to students and fellow employees.

This week, Gov. Bill Lee gave his nod of approval to the six Tennessee districts that have made the decision on teachers at a local level.

Maury County is one of the districts with the new policy. This means teachers are exempt from the 14-day quarantine recommended by the CDC.

Teachers unions are concerned that school employees could then potentially be carriers of the virus.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said in a statement that the designation “has no legal merit and is more of a rhetorical gambit to give President Trump and those governors who are disregarding the advice and guidance from public health experts an excuse to force educators into unsafe schools.”

However, the districts say this is necessary to keep staffing levels up and keep schools open.