Some Teachers Balk as San Jose Schools Prepare to Reopen Classrooms Wednesday

School starts Wednesday for the San Jose Unified School District when hundreds of teachers will be ordered back to their classrooms but KPIX is learning that some teachers will stand their ground and teach from home.

The district told teachers they could apply to teach from home if they had a valid reason, such as a medical issue. District leaders also said they would accommodate teachers who needed child care.

However, high school teacher Kelly Walker said that has not been the case.

Walker applied to stay at home because she was scrambling to find daycare for her 3-month-old son after district leaders decided teachers would be required to report to their classrooms.

She found out a week and a half ago that the district had rejected her request.

“It was gut wrenching,” Walker said. “It was one of my last options.”

Walker said the district e-mail didn’t give her a specific reason for the rejection.

“So far I don’t know of anyone who’s gotten an accommodation for child care needs,” she said.

Jodi Disario, a high school English and theater teacher, had her request approved earlier this month for high-risk reasons. She said that the district had months to plan the school year.

“The big thing for us was that we were never given a choice,” Disario said. “It wasn’t a ‘Hey, do you want to work from home?’ There were a lot of people I know who were rejected. The choice would’ve been made easier if, back in March, we had started planning for what this was all going to look like.”

Instead, district staff originally decided to require staff and students to report to class on the first day of school. After teachers refused en masse, the district reversed course.

Now, despite efforts to convince district leaders to teach from home, teachers will be back at work Wednesday unless they’ve been given the OK to stay home.

“The health and safety of our community is really the bottom line,” Walker said. “I think that we’ve sort of lost sight of that by saying, ‘OK, we’re going to force you in your classrooms.’”

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