PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – As the latest wave of schools reopen, they do so with more and more scattered reports of COVID cases among teachers and staff.
It is something school leaders hope their planning will be able to contain.
No one is watching it all more acutely than the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
The PSEA represents most of the teachers outside the Pittsburgh Public Schools and Matt Edgell with the PSEA says they are watching very closely.
“We have concern where the children are concerned, for our members, we’re concerned, parents and grandparents and you know this, this thing is insidious, and it so you know of course we’re gravely concerned,” he said. “We’re hoping, we’ve worked very closely and very hard with administrations across the county to keep COVID from spreading, and to keep it from happening but in some places, it’s just going to be a matter of time.”
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Already there have been issues in the Elizabeth Forward, North Allegheny, and Fox Chapel school districts just to name a few.
Edgell is not giving up hope.
“If they follow the plans that have been put in place not only by the state, the county, the municipalities that they’re in and then you know working with their own unions,” he said. “We’re hoping that it can be stopped, rather quickly. That contact tracing can take place and that no other people are put at risk, biggest problem is folks not taking this seriously. Folks not wearing the PPE folks you know folks not properly quarantining. All of those things are real, this disease is not a hoax.”
Edgell says the PSEA is drilling home to its members and the districts, “PPE is the number one way to stop this from spreading. You know, everybody wearing their mask, everybody washing their hands, everybody trying to social distance as much as possible.”
The entire situation leaves parents uneasy as they wonder about their child’s school.
Edgell says parents should relax because if a case is discovered the schools will pull out the stops to stop the spread.
“They’ve got two jobs here: First of all, they need to engage in the contact tracing, and if their child is involved in that, the parent will be contacted about the specifics, but they also have a job to maintain that folks HIPAA rights,” he explained. “HIPAA rights, just don’t go away because we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Now it becomes more important for, you know, folks to share with their friends and with their family when they get it you know, but there’s a fine line to walk and I understand completely understand parents that want to know. And it’s the same thing with the converse of that you know if teachers find out hey you had a child in your classroom that has the disease that has coronavirus, they want to know that as well.”
Edgell says its a delicate line for everyone involved.
“It’s a very difficult time emotions are high,” he said. “There’s still a lot of unknowns about coronavirus although we’re getting better still a lot of unknowns, and you know we’re all doing, We all should be doing the best we can to limit the spread of this I know PSEA is.”
The unknown sparks distrust and Edgell says parents should trust the district’s plans because no one wants to see the schools have to close down because COVID-19 gets out of control.