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Houston teacher Cristine Jasso resigns over COVID-19 concern

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — A Houston teacher quit her job amid safety concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cristine Jasso was a 5th grade educator at Houston Gateway Academy on Bowie Street. Jasso said she reported to campus Monday for training, eager to see what measures were being taken by school leadership.

Jasso said the school called a meeting to address COVID-19 mitigation efforts. She said she was told at the meeting she couldn’t wear personal protective equipment in the classroom.

“I asked a really hard question that nobody wanted to ask,” said Jasso. “They told us no. When I asked to why, ‘Well, we don’t want to scare the children.’ Which I understand to a certain extent. Of course, we don’t want to scare children, but for safety and in this current situation and climate, we should be scared. This is a very serious situation. I don’t think the leaders of my school, at this particular time, were taking it seriously.”

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Jasso said her story is personal. She lost her 60-year-old father Luis Jasso to COVID-19 in June. She said she wants to return to teaching with assurances her and the children’s safety are a top priority.

“I’m not going to allow someone to risk my life without my permission. I refuse,” said Jasso. “I love teaching. I do, but I don’t regret this decision. Not one bit.”

On the school’s website, it outlined the measures being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The document says they’ll perform a temperature check for teachers, staff and students before entering campuses.

The documents also indicated the school would provide hand sanitizer at each campus entrance and soap in bathrooms.

The plan calls for Plexiglass dividers on all student desks, in all classrooms, and for students to remain in one classroom.

Houston Gateway Academy released the following statement regarding the incident:

“Houston Gateway Academy does not comment on individual personnel matters. With that said, HGA appreciates the opportunity to respond to the concern expressed by a former employee regarding HGA’s COVID-19-related precautions.
HGA’s top priority is to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of HGA’s students and employees. With particular regard to the current COVID-19 pandemic, HGA’s dedicated staff has worked tirelessly to develop HGA’s Plan for On-Campus Instruction for the 2020-2021 School Year to Mitigate the Spread of COVID-19. HGA developed this Plan in consultation with guidance from federal, state, and local authorities, as well as with input from HGA families and stakeholders. HGA will continuously update the Plan as new pertinent information becomes available from health authorities.

HGA’s Plan includes but is not limited to: requiring that students, employees, and visitors be routinely screened and monitored for COVID-19 symptoms; implementing a mandatory quarantine period for any HGA student or employee who is confirmed positive or has had close contact with someone who is confirmed positive; and utilizing heightened sanitization procedures in areas frequented by a person confirmed as having contracted the virus. Additionally, HGA has placed hand sanitizer at the entrance to every classroom, installed plexiglass dividers on students’ desks, and has made disposable masks available for those who have not brought a personal mask from home. In short, HGA takes its commitment to excellence in education seriously, and a vital part of this mission is ensuring that students learn in a safe and healthy environment. HGA is taking, and will continue to take, any action necessary to educate students in a safe environment in accordance with contemporaneous guidance from federal, state, and local authorities.”

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