MANTECA (CBS13) — Negotiations between the Manteca Educators’ Association and the Manteca Unified School District hit a wall as district officials held steadfast to the idea that teachers should do distance learning from their empty classrooms.

“Trying to contain it (COVID-19) should be our priority. Safety should be our priority,” said Sierra High School Biology teacher Angela Garcia.

Garcia, who lives with her 62-year-old mother, is self-quarantining after waking up with a severe cough.

“Having an immune-compromised mother at home, you know, that worries me. She’s a breast cancer survivor. So for me, the less exposure the better,” said Garcia.

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“Our teachers are safe in the classroom,” said MUSD spokesperson Victoria Brunn.

Brunn told CBS13 district officials have PPE for teachers and a way for teachers to drive straight to their classroom door, limiting exposure to each other. She says having them in the classroom is what’s best for students.

“They’re going to be that bridge from being at home with your parent full-time to being with your teacher and that socio-emotional connection has to happen in a classroom environment,” said Brunn.

“I got into teaching because I wanted to be in the classroom, not in my den,” said Sierra High School English teacher James Burns.

Burns produced an MTV-like video tour of the classroom for his students. He teaches freshmen and sophomores, basically the new kids on campus.

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“Just the first couple of days some of the main questions the kids had were what does the space look like? What does room 55 look like? What is it like on campus?” said Burns.

While MUSD teachers are required to do distance learning from their classrooms, Brunn says teachers can qualify for special orders to teach from home.

“If I was able to do labs that would be great but unfortunately in this scenario, we are not able to do a lot of hands-on stuff because they’re not in the classroom,” said Garcia.

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