AUSTIN, Texas - Murchison Middle School teacher Alex Murphy will always remember why he got into teaching. “This is so cliché to say but it's all about the students. I love working with young people,” he said.
But the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has halted that precious time he would normally get in the classroom. “It's been really tough from March onward not being able to interact in person,” he said.
He says furthering his frustration is the district's lack of planning. He stressed he is speaking on his own behalf, not that of the district or all teachers.
“We pretty much have been kind of waiting to hear from the district like what is the plan for returning, how are we going to make sure that we are delivering equitable instruction,” said Murphy.
Austin ISD pushed the start date back to Sept. 8 and it will be virtual, except for students who don’t have access to technology. “Why didn't you get technology out to people,” said Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin, the teacher and employee's union.
Zarifis says the district should have picked a delayed start date way back in the summer.
“We could have been in a much better place much sooner and created space to create plans, and online professional development to help teachers be more successful had the district not waited until the last minute,” said Zarifis.
Murphy said aside from the lack of planning, he believes physical returns shouldn’t even be an option yet. “I have not heard a single educator say anything other than ‘I am dying to get to my students.’ We are all dying to get back to our students but we are not willing to die to get back to our students,” said Murphy.
FOX 7 Austin spoke to the district over the phone, which said many of the operating decisions are being left up to individual campuses, and they said that is providing guidance with campus leaders.
“The burden of having to plan this shouldn't fall to principals and assistant principals that's really not their job. I understand it is incredibly difficult to lead a school district through a pandemic. I've got to imagine from the top to the bottom this has taxed everybody at every conceivable level. I don't have any anger in my heart about this. But that can't be an excuse for not planning,” said Murphy.