ORLANDO, Fla. — On Thursday, the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association met with the school district to discuss the reopening of schools.

What You Need To Know

  • Union hopes district will provide masks to teachers, students

  • Teachers also want procedures in place for if students or teachers contract coronavirus

  • Negotiations between district, union are ongoing

  • More Orange County stories

Currently, no one knows what the "new normal" will look like come August, but the discussions taking place now have teachers hopeful of safely returning to campuses in the fall. 

“Would I be comfortable going back?" Timber Creek High School teacher Clay Phillips asked. "I don’t know how they are going to open the school, so I wouldn’t be comfortable going back right away because I have no idea how they are going to be proceeding.” 

Teachers Union President Wendy Doromal is working on getting those questions about how the district plans to proceed answered so teachers like Clay can feel safe and comfortable come August.

“Without a vaccine its really hard to say," Doromal said. "It is really hard to predict because we don’t know what it is going to look like a week from now, a month from now, three months from now, but I would say its better to be safe than sorry.”

The union is hoping the district will provide face masks to teachers and students, add more hand washing stations, and have a system in place if a student or teacher did contract coronavirus. 

Phillips hope is that if and when schools reopen students have the same safety measures as his fellow teachers.

"I think they have to do the same thing for the kids," Phillips suggests "You are going to have to have equity with the kids too.”

Equity, however, could come with a hefty price tag.

“The governor should be signing the budget and it will remain the same for school districts, so if that is true that is good news,” Doromal said.

The good news Phillips would like to see soon is the repeat of history that brings him joy in a classroom.

“When you see a kid finally get it, the light bulb goes off, you know that kind of story — that's the one that gets it when you see a kid accomplish something,” he explained.

Time’s now ticking for the district and teachers to accomplish an agreement on getting everyone on the same page in August before the first school bell rings.

We did reach out to the school board for a comment but they said they do not comment on on going negotiations. They said they are also waiting on further direction from the Florida Department of Education.

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