RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — When NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly reflects on the start of the 2020 school year she says there’s only one way to sum it up.

“It has been a challenge for educators and parents alike,” said Tamika Walker Kelly, President of the North Carolina Association of Educators.

As we continue to weather the COVID-19 pandemic she says many teachers across the state are in agreement.

“We do want to go back to school,” said Walker Kelly. “Our educators love their kids. They love being in their classroom doing activities and watching our kids light up when they learn something new, but the virus is very real.”

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper recently announced that schools could return to in-person learning by October 5th, and districts across the state began scrambling to put plans in place.

Wake Co. could move students back into the classroom by November 16th.

“We have some very real concerns about allowing school districts to return to plan A,” said Walker Kelly.

Walker Kelly says in order for Plan A to work the state will need to work with local districts to provide adequate PPE, which includes N95 masks.

“Even under the Plan B guidelines that were set by the governor some of our educators have still contracted COVID, some of our kids have too,” said Walker Kelly. “Some of our educators have unfortunately died because of it.”

That’s why she believes parents, educators, and school administrators need to tap the breaks before rushing back into the classroom.

“As we approach cold and flu season on top of having to deal with COVID we don’t want to rush students and educators back into school buildings that aren’t quite equipped to handle this global pandemic,” said Walker Kelly.