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UEA survey finds most teachers don’t support a work stoppage

FILE: Michelle La-Bonnell, a Granite School District educator, joined other teachers, staff and supporters in a protest outside of the district office in South Salt Lake on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. Photo: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A new survey from the Utah Education Association (UEA) found little support among teachers for any work stoppage. 

UEA survey finds teachers want to keep working

The survey found only around 16% of teachers would support any sort of a statewide job action. That includes things like a “sick out,” which would halt work for a day or more.

Interesting enough, in some urban districts, nearly 30% of teachers said they would support a stoppage.

Despite there being little support for a disruption to classes, UEA President Heidi Matthews said something has to change. 

“We want to be in schools with our students with face-to-face learning but we want to be safe, too,” she said. “And what is happening right now is not working.”

The main split in the survey is whether or not to temporarily close schools statewide for a period of time. Some 42% say they would support that at a statewide level, while another 42% say any decisions should be made at the local level. 

“The workload is just unsustainable”

Matthews is now reading over more than 300 pages of comments from Utah teachers. According to her, 88% of responding teachers say they feel overwhelmed and stressed from the increased workload.

“I can’t even tell you the level of despair,” she continued. “The workload is just unsustainable.”

While admitting teachers are working under heightened stress, Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley said thankfully, virus transmission in the classroom is very low.

“Last June and July when we were planning for this school year and thought that we would have less than 2% or 3% transmission rate on school property we would have been so excited about those figures,” Horsley said. “So to have that kind of data coming through on our contact tracing is phenomenal. It’s very painfully obvious that kids, when they are on these dismissals, that not only does the learning diminish but also their safety.”