Teachers in Jefferson County, Pueblo and Durango took to the streets this week to protest the reopening of schools and what they say is a lack of protocols to keep them safe from the novel coronavirus.
In Jefferson County, Jeffco Public Schools teachers traveled up and down Wadsworth Boulevard in cars and by foot Monday, calling for changes to how the district plans to reopen schools for the fall semester, CBS Denver reported. Jeffco Public Schools recently announced all classes would be held remotely until at least Sept. 8, walking back its previous plan to host full-time in-person instruction.
Still, teachers told the station, the plan doesn’t go far enough and that online education should go through October.
“I am still going to provide the best education for my students, it will just be online instead of in person,” Rhiannon Wenning, a social studies teacher at Jefferson Junior Senior High School, told CBS Denver.
Teachers in Durango drove cars covered in signs through downtown Monday, demanding schools stay closed until there’s a two-week span with no new COVID-19 cases reported in the counties where schools operate, according to the Durango Herald. In Pueblo, teachers from School District 60 staged a demonstration Monday on the Pueblo South High School football field to show how quickly the virus can spread, KRDO reported.
These protests are the latest show of unrest among Colorado school faculty, many of whom don’t believe safety protocols such as social distancing or student cohorting are enough to keep them safe.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest union, 53% of respondents prefer remote-only teaching and 8% prefer classroom-only instruction. The organization has repeatedly called for educators to have a voice in decision-making around school reopenings.
Separately, the American Federation of Teachers, a nationwide union, unveiled a resolution Tuesday saying it would back localized safety strikes as a last resort should schools reopen before meeting certain criteria, such as regional disease surveillance, tracing and isolation, and accommodations for high-risk staff.
“While we look forward to in-person instruction, there is a continued need to further flesh out the details in the current ReStart Jeffco plan and continue to correct gaps in the protective measures,” the Jeffco Education Association said in a statement. “We strongly believe that school health and safety is community health and safety and we must continue to plan, adjust and evaluate our path forward as we face the COVID-19 health crisis.”
On Tuesday, Colorado lawmakers asked for Gov. Jared Polis’ approval to host a special session dedicated to developing policies to ensure every child has a high quality education during the pandemic.
This content was originally published here.