BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Teachers and parents protested outside Baltimore City Schools headquarters Wednesday, demanding no in-person learning for the 2020 school year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

At the protest, parents and teachers called on the school board to come up with a better plan to bring students back on campus.

“The closer we get, the more anxious I’m getting about how safe is this going to be,” Pre-K teacher Meg Gibson said.

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Teachers say, right now, it’s not safe for students or teachers to return amid the coronavirus pandemic and the plan the school board has in place is “incomplete and everchanging.”

“I am not returning my children to school,” parent Caroline Kuhlman said. “They will not be in a public school building until I am sure it is safe.”

The protest was part of a national day of action. A group started a petition called “Only When Safe” that outlines the need for a plan to keep students and teachers safe inside the building.

So far, they’ve collected over 1,000 signatures.

Some teachers tell WJZ they put together a list of specific conditions they believe are necessary to meet before a physical return to schools can even be considered.

“I am not comfortable,” high school English teacher Patrice Pilgram said. “I am not confident that the district has what it needs to have a plan in place to ensure my children’s safety.”

Baltimore City Schools says they have not made a decision about returning to classrooms. They say they will update the community about any next steps on October 16.

They issued the following statement Wednesday:

“City Schools respects the right of members of our community to be heard. No decision has been made about returning to the classroom, and we will update our City Schools community about any next steps on October 16.

However, we are excited to host small in-person learning opportunities such as our Student Learning Centers and limited learning opportunities for ESOL and Special Education students. At each site, we follow a host of procedures to protect both students and staff, while also aligning with local, state, and national guidelines. These successful experiences will inform any choices we will make in the future, all in a collaborative manner and the best interest of students.”

Some teachers say they want better communication with Baltimore City School officials.

“I love my students,” Gibson said. “So I want to be back in the classroom with them, but to think we can go back safely right now is just magical thinking.”

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Kelsey Kushner

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