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While Awaiting a Vaccine and Debating Reopening, District Responses to Medical Accommodations for At-Risk Teachers Vary Wildly Across the Country

Zoe Kirsch, The 74 |

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 1.5 million teachers — or almost one in four — have medical conditions that place them at increased risk of serious illness if they get COVID-19. Many are consequently hesitant about returning to buildings amid viral spread, afraid of falling seriously ill or bringing the illness home to their relatives.

While that fear is present throughout the country, how school districts have responded to medical accommodation requests has varied wildly: in New York City, which has more students than any district in the nation and one of its most powerful teachers unions, officials granted just over 34,000 of the 38,000 requests to work from home, for instance.

Meanwhile, in Houston, the nation’s seventh-largest district, a union attorney said officials have denied almost 100 percent of staffers’ requests.

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