MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – St. Paul Public Schools and Minneapolis Public Schools are doing a phased re-entry approach with pre-Kindergarten through grade five students. Both districts plan to resume in-person learning in early February.

However, teachers are worried the move is happening too soon.

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“Our school has a spreadsheet of questions teachers are constantly asking and I feel like so many answers are ‘we don’t know yet’,” said St. Paul teacher Chanel Sasse. She is nervous about returning to the classroom.

She says a health condition would force her to choose between her job and her safety.

“I’m probably going to lose my job when we go back in person,” she said.

St. Paul public schools plan to start Pre-K through second graders in person on Feb. 1, with grades three through five coming back on Feb. 16. The St. Paul Federation of Teachers says it’s too soon, as teachers do not yet have readily available access to the vaccine.

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“Vaccine, numbers need to go down, and there needs to be a clearly articulated plan,” said Nick Faber, from the St. Paul Federation of Teachers.

Minneapolis educators also voiced their concerns about returning to the classroom in a meeting Tuesday morning.

“As a person of color, as someone with underlying conditions, for me it’s life or it’s death and low risk is still a risk,” said Dr. Marcia Wyatt, a teacher.

Experts say COVID-19 disproportionately impacts people of color, which the majority of students in Minneapolis and St. Paul schools are.

In a letter to staff, Minneapolis’ superintendent Ed Graff said “We are trying to balance two equally important values throughout this pandemic: the health and safety of staff and students and need to provide an educational experience that will lay an academic foundation for their future success.”

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Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent Ed Graff will recommend the phase-in back to the classroom begin on Feb. 8. That plan will go before the Board of Education on Tuesday night.

Kate Raddatz