Catholic School Teachers Quit Over Reopening Plans

When Amy Stephens learned that St. Augustine School in Elkridge, Maryland, would offer a combination of in-person and virtual learning this fall, she asked if she could teach her music, theater and strings classes via livestream. She was told no, she would need to be physically in the classroom, interacting with the entire student body each week. 

So a couple of weeks ago, she quit her job.

“My job is to go and see the entire school population, and that didn’t feel safe for me, my family or honestly for the community of St. Augustine’s,” Stephens said. “So I had to resign.”

St. Augustine School is one of 44 Catholic schools affiliated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The schools, which span eight counties plus Baltimore City, plan to welcome back students on Monday. One school — Archbishop Borders School in Baltimore’s Highlandtown neighborhood — is only offering virtual instruction. At all of the others, parents can choose whether to send their students to school in person. 

However, many of the schools’ teachers are apprehensive about returning to teach in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Stephens estimated that she is one of several dozen who have resigned rather than return to the classroom. 

In interviews, current and recently resigned teachers — almost all of whom requested anonymity because they fear retaliation for speaking out — worried that the schools’ safety plans are insufficient to prevent them from getting sick or bringing the virus home to their families. 

This story aired on WYPR. Read the full story here.

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