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Teachers join FOX43 for virtual discussion on back-to-school concerns

Five teachers in the Susquehanna Township School District in Dauphin County spoke with FOX43's Matt Maisel about what to expect.

What happens if I get sick?

How will kids get to school?

These are some of the dozens of questions teachers are still asking their school districts and state officials as they prepare to return to the classroom at the end of August.

FOX43 spoke with five teachers in the Susquehanna Township School District in Dauphin County about their expectations and concerns going back to school in a month.

"I`m a little nervous about bringing diseases home to the family," said Kerry Snell, a Spanish teacher in the high school. "I have someone at home who is at-risk."

Rob McDonald, head of the science department and biology and environmental science teacher, is more concerned with child care.

"What concerns me is whether or not my five-year-old will have someone watching him if he hast to distance-learn at home," he said.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Education has given school districts limited guidelines on how to safely reopen. Among them, making sure masks are mandatory to all students and faculty unless there's a medical condition, maintaining six-feet of social distancing when applicable, and limiting the number of children in the classrooms and hallways at any given time.

However, one month before the start of the school year, teachers haven't been able to get inside their classes to prepare for the new guidelines.

"The governor's mandate of no more than 25 people indoors, I don`t know how this is going to play out with that guideline," wondered Elena Charles, a business teacher.

Joe Headen, head football coach and history teacher, responded, saying, "So if this is the mandate, but you want all the kids back to school, that's kind of like an oxymoron."

"That's one of my biggest questions," replied Megan Hamsher, an anatomy and sociology teacher. "Why do mandates apply to certain businesses or building types and not to others? Even telling businesses if you can work from home, you must. Technically, we can work from home."

There's also the topic of staying healthy.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, only three percent of all positive COVID-19 cases are found in grade school-aged children, 5 to 18 years old. 

That isn't stopping teachers from being concerned. When asked what happens if one of them gets sick, two of the teachers shrugged their shoulders as if to say, no one knows.

McDonald then replied, "Are there substitutes (teachers)? There are barely enough substitutes right now."

"There weren't enough substitutes before the pandemic, and I know the district sees that as a big issue," Snell said.