Some teachers 'are going to die' if schools reopen, Sarasota teachers union president warns

The Sarasota County School Board held a nearly three-hour meeting Thursday to try and come up with a gameplan for how schools will safely reopen on August 10.

The president of the Sarasota teacher's association says bringing kids back to classrooms presents unprecedented hazards for staff possibly being exposed to COVID-19.

The school board sent a survey to parents with various reopening options ranging from a full reopening to online-only instruction.

They received more than 18,000 responses; 74% saying they want their child to be back in school for in-person instruction and the other 26% want their child to be in some kind of virtual/remote learning.

"We're working right now on having our teachers work together with our specialists so that our teachers are all prepared to do delivery of instruction remotely in the case of a spontaneous shutdown," said Laura Kingsley, the assistant superintendent and chief academic officer for Sarasota County Public Schools.

RELATED: Second survey for Hillsborough parents directs them to choose preferences for return to school

But Pat Gardner, the president of the Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association, said planning for a 'spontaneous shutdown' isn't enough. She wants a similar survey to be sent to educators, who will ultimately be responsible for putting the plans into action.

"I feel like teachers and staff are being put on the front lines with doctors and nurses, EMT people and some police officers, and they haven't been trained on how to work with contagious individuals and some of them are going to die," said Gardner. "We need to think about staff and what's happening to them."

No decisions were made at Thursday's meeting, but the board discussed requiring masks on school buses, how to maintain social distancing in classrooms, and how to contact trace in a school setting.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


Map of known COVID-19 cases:

MOBILE APP USERS: Click here for map