A local teachers’ group is circulating a petition and asking Killeen Independent School District leadership to close the school district until health experts declare it safe for classes to resume.
Rick Beaule, president Killeen Educators Association, delivered that message to the Killeen school board via an online meeting Tuesday night and he sent a release to area news outlets earlier this week.
“The governor extended our closure to May 4, but all you need do is say that Killeen ISD will remain closed until health officials say it is safe to return. That’s it. No dates, no push to normalcy when everyone knows it’s not normal,” Beaule told the school board.
The Center for Disease Control extended social distancing guidelines until April 30 as a result of the coronavirus. The guidelines limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people.
It is up to state and local authorities to execute the guidelines from the CDC. The district has officially closed schools until at least May 4, following an order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for all public schools in the state to do so.
Over 1,000 people, teachers and community members, have signed KEA’s petition calling for safety, security and stability within the school district, according to the release from Beaule. The petition can be viewed online at http://chng.it/mkJnYyrm, however, only a few recent signees can be seen on the webpage.
“What we’re looking to do is we’re providing awareness that the community is aware of what’s going on with COVID-19,” Beaule said. “The best way to handle this pandemic is for people to stay home,” Beaule said.
For the most part, Killeen ISD teachers and staff are already staying home. The school district launched its continued learning center last week allowing students and teachers to work from home. The center is on the district’s website and provides resources for all of the students in the district.
Taina Maya, the district’s spokeswoman, provided a statement on the petition via email Wednesday.
“The district is aware of KEA’s petition,” Maya said.
Jennifer Huffcut is a third-grade teacher at Timber Ridge Elementary School and a member of the Killeen Educators Association.
“For me personally it really comes to family, it’s more than just the disease. We have to put my kids and my students first,” Huffcut said. “There is nothing I want more than to go back into my classroom and see my kids but … I don’t want to take that chance and spread it.”
Huffcut specified what she and the educators association want the district to do.
“They just need to come out and say that we are closing until the CDC says that it is safe for all beings to be together,” she said.
Another group that represents teachers — the Texas State Teachers Association — is demanding that the governor shut down schools for the year, according to a news release from the association on Wednesday.
“Disease experts expect this pandemic to get worse, maybe much worse, in Texas before we see any relief, and the governor must take these steps now to protect millions of school children and the adults dedicated to serving and caring for them. A comprehensive, statewide school closure order is necessary because the outbreak is expanding across the state, and we don’t know which counties it will strike next. Leaving this decision to individual districts creates unnecessary confusion and stress across Texas,” Noel Candelaria, the TSTA President said.