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Survey shows Connecticut educators' top concern is safety amid COVID-19 pandemic

One of the top issues educators said they were concerned over was the COVID-19 variants and the lack of proper ventilation in schools.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Editor's Note: The video above is from Sept. 3, 2021.

State educators are enthusiastic about in-person learning, but COVID-19 variants and the pandemic still raise concerns, a recent survey by the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) shows.

The concerns stem from the delta variant and the emergence of the mu variant, according to the CEA. Children under the age of 12 are still not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. The variants combined with a lack of adequate ventilation systems, social distancing, and COVID-19 testing politics have some teachers on edge. 

“Our educators are excited and filled with optimism for their students and the new school year,” said CEA President Kate Dias in a statement. “We know in-person teaching is best, but we also need to do all we can to keep our school communities safe and prevent further spread of the virus.”

Educators and students are now in their second year of learning during the pandemic, but uncertainty around pandemic protocols and inconsistency in school safety measures have taken a heavy toll on teachers, according to the CEA. That impact may have long-term consequences such as educators wanting to retire early or change professions altogether. 

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“This survey underscores the fact that while educators want to be in school, teaching in-person, safety issues must continue to be addressed,” said CEA Executive Director Donald Williams. “High on the list of concerns is indoor air quality, because poor air quality in classrooms could lead to a spread of the virus, especially in our younger grades, where students are not yet eligible for vaccines.”

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The CEA surveyed nearly 1,000 educators. Nearly half of those surveyed (47%) said their school’s ventilation system does not provide enough protection from COVID-19 for them to feel safe. More than a quarter (27%) said they feel safe, and nearly as many, (25%) are unsure.

Almost all of the respondents (97%) said schools needed to improve ventilation. Only 50% of those surveyed believed that their schools were enforcing quarantine and testing for students and educators who came into contact with someone who had COVID-19.

“With the influx of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds,” Williams stressed, “the state has the resources to improve the health and safety of our schools by installing, maintaining, or repairing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to improve indoor air quality and provide safe teaching and learning environments.”

Read the full survey results here.

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Jennifer Glatz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jglatz@fox61.com.  

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