• Some 700 schools have been forced to close after starting the school year in person because of coronavirus outbreaks
  • A 56-story, 490-unit apartment tower is turning some of its vacant office space into classrooms so parents can have space for their children to remote learn or share a tutor, teacher or parent
  • Hundreds of teachers have resigned or quit amid fears of contracting coronavirus

Parents across the country were scrambling to figure out how to handle the school year with more districts opting for remote learning to protect both children and teachers from coronavirus infection.

The pressure is on from the Trump administration and elsewhere to open schools for in-person learning despite mounting evidence children are just as susceptible to contracting the virus as adults and fears among teachers they are putting their lives on the line. President Trump last week ridiculed plans by some districts to mix remote and in-person classes, saying the administration had provided as many as 125 million reusable masks to schools around the country.

“All schools should be making plans to resume in-person classes as soon as possible,” Trump told a briefing.

But an Ipsos poll commissioned by the Washington Post and Schar School indicated 80% of parents are uncomfortable with all in-person classes.

As of Monday morning, more than 5.4 million coronavirus infections had been recorded across the country and COVID-19 deaths had surpassed 170,000, Johns Hopkins tracking data indicated.

Some schools that already had opened for in-person classes have been forced to shut down as coronavirus cases erupted. Others that had planned a mix of in-person and online classes decided to skip face-to-face classes, at least for the near term.

A Kansas school teacher said she was so overwhelmed by the stories, she made up a Google spreadsheet tracking school closures. Alisha Morris of Olathe told the Washington Post she had tracked 700 forced closures by early Monday.

“We knew this would happen, and we had tried to make it known that it would happen, but seeing it on paper was, I think, the eye-opening part about it,” she told the Post. “It’s just that terrifying moment when you open it up and just keeps scrolling and you’re like: ‘How can there be so many?’”

A recent survey by Fishbowl indicated nearly three-quarters of teachers are against schools reopening for in-person classes – even though they don’t much like working from home. And the American Federation of Teachers said last month it would support any teachers who stage walkouts based on coronavirus fears.

The J.O. Combs Unified School District in Sun Tan Valley, Arizona, was forced to cancel plans for in-person classes Monday because 100 of its teachers resigned or threatened not to show up.

In nearby Queen Creek, 43 teachers resigned, Jacob Frantz, president of the Queen Creek Education Association, told KPNX-TV, Phoenix.

“It’s been one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make because this is what I was born to do,” Matthew Chicci, who said he is at high risk from COVID-19, told KPNX.

In Salt Lake City, 79 teachers either have resigned or retired.

“The thought of going back into the classroom to teach was just so incredibly stressful,” Jan Roberts told the Salt Lake Tribune. “I couldn’t risk making any of my students sick or getting sick myself.”

The decision not to return to work could be costly. In Kansas, teachers could face $10,000 penalties for breaking their contracts, KMBC-TV, Kansas City, reported.

Numerous districts, including Chicago and Los Angeles, have opted for e-learning for at least the start of the school year, leaving parents at a loss as to how to juggle child-care responsibilities and work.

A recent survey by indicated 67% of parents with young children expect their finances to be negatively impacted by remote learning and 40% fear it will have a negative impact on their children’s education.

One Chicago landlord decided to convert some of its office space in a 56-story, 490-unit apartment building in the pricey Streeterville area downtown into small classrooms, betting parents will want so-called pandemic-pods or micro-schools so families can share a teacher, tutor or parent, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“For people who are living in the downtown environment, where they might be sharing a smaller space with two working parents and kids, those spaces can get small and loud and distracting,” Ali Burnham, marketing director for building owner Optima, told the Tribune. “Here, you’re not fighting for space.