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Irving ISD Denies Work from Home Requests

BY IRVING WEEKLY STAFF

Irving, Texas. December 3, 2020

As reported in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, some school staff in Irving say they feel pressured by the school district to return to in-person teaching despite health concerns as more children return to the classroom during the coronavirus pandemic.

Irving began optional in-person learning for students on Sept. 28. Every six weeks, students can choose to return to school or continue virtual learning.

At the end of October, the district told staff who were previously allowed to remotely teach due to health concerns that they needed to come back to campus by Nov. 9. A teacher’s aide currently on oxygen support, a special education teacher on immunosuppressants and a teacher of 20 years who just completed chemotherapy were among those asked to return to campus.

“What Irving has done is ripped the rug out from under a lot of employees who are at-risk,” Steven Poole, executive director of the United Educators Association union, said.

The school district said it is working to provide a quality education to students “while staying committed to the health and safety of our employees,” district spokeswoman Nicole Mansell said in an email.

But the district is in a tough spot. The number of face-to-face students has increased “at a rapid rate,” Mansell said, and the district has such a shortage of in-person supervision that central office staff have been sent as substitutes to supervise classrooms.

“Because of the increased number of face-to-face learners each six weeks, it had become an undue hardship for the district to continue allowing remote work arrangements to occur,” Mansell said. “Quite simply, we do not have enough teachers (or paid substitutes) to adequately supervise the face-to-face learners.”

As of Friday, 150 teachers in the Irving school district had requested to teach virtually for the next six weeks. All are being asked to return to campus, Mansell said.

Staff members who spoke with the Star-Telegram asked that their names not be used out of fear of losing their jobs.

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