PUEBLO COUNTY — Today the playgrounds at Sunset Park Elementary School were silent, but the offices inside were not.
Faculty and staff members in Pueblo School District 60 are still being required to teach from the building, not from their homes.
Katie Brown, a Counselor at Sunset Park is one of several teachers who expressed their concerns surrounding the district's rules during a forum hosted by the Pueblo Education Association on Zoom yesterday afternoon.
"It's been a roller coaster,' said Brown when referring to the different mandates imposed by D-60. She and her coworkers worked from home on the week of November 2, but were then asked to return to the building to continue teaching.
"Do I compromise my personal safety to be able to meet with my students?" Brown wondered, eventually opting to take some personal days when she did not feel safe returning to the building. Today, she worked from just outside of the building, close enough to connect to Sunset Park's WIFI and still refraining from entering the building as much as possible.
According to Brown, every call the staff receives about updates regarding the pandemic contains the statement "Due to an inability to cover staff absences," placing blame that Brown feels is misleading.
"Our staff shows up for their kids every day they're able to. We had weeks of 100% attendance and so to say 'Inability to cover staff absences' doesn't really honor the work of our educators that have been working this entire time," said Brown.
As of now eight positive cases of COVID-19 have been associated with Sunset Park. Brown's own son is one student whose teacher has caught the virus and her son is now learning from home while she continues to go to school, as is the case for other D-60 employees.
"I’m fortunate that many times my husband can cover the distanced learning and stay with my son at home. I know for our teachers that are single parents that’s not a reality. And so, not only do they have to make the decision about whether or not they go into the building, but they also have to decide whether or not to bring their children with them.”
Brown believes that the district should grant teachers the right to choose between working in person or coming to the building. After Thanksgiving break, grades PreK through 8 will follow in the high school's footsteps and transition to completely remote learning.