MURRAY (ABC4 News) – When it comes to protecting teachers from the Coronavirus, Utah gets an F according to a new national study.
Utah sticks out like a dark purple sore thumb on a map created by Insurify. The online insurance company compiled research data on factors such as classroom crowding, school funding, the age of teachers, how much they’re paid, and the influence of the teachers’ union.
Alexandra Conza is a Data Scientist who works for Insurify.
“Nobody should feel unsafe going to work or school and requiring teachers to return to in-person instruction may be asking them to compromise their health, perhaps significantly,” Conza told ABC4 News. “We’ve made our comprehensive assessment of the risk and we have found that Utah teachers face the most challenging work conditions this year, relative to other states.”
That’s dead last. 50th out of the 50 states. A longtime teacher and President of the Utah Education Association Heidi Matthews said the findings confirm what the teachers’ union has suspected all along. She calls the last-place ranking “deeply concerning but also not surprising”.
“This is what we have been saying,” Matthews said. “Our teachers in Utah have the highest risk in the country for exposure and problems associated with the virus.”
Like a student who brings home an F, Matthews says Utah needs to get serious about fixing its deficiencies.
“It’s class sizes. It’s the strength of the association. It’s the investment in our public schools that are the criteria that were used that brought us to this F grade in terms of safety of our teachers in this pandemic,” Matthews said. “So we need to address those areas. Invest in our per-pupil expenditure. Invest in lowering our class sizes and ensure the safety of our teachers and our educators.”
Neighboring Idaho was the only other state to receive an F in the report. Massachusetts and Rhode Island were the only states that earned an A+.