BALTIMORE (WJZ) — With the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 over the past several weeks, some educators in Baltimore are worried about safety inside school buildings.
Baltimore City Public Schools teachers, parents and staff gathered at a car rally Tuesday outside the city’s school headquarters said they simply don’t feel safe going back inside classrooms and feel their concerns around a rushed reopening plan have been largely brushed aside.
The car rally was organized by the Baltimore teachers union’s COVID-19 task force and is part of a National Day of Action for safe schools.
- Coronavirus Resources: How To Get Help
- Timeline: How The Coronavirus Spread In Maryland
- Latest coronavirus stories from WJZ
The union said now is not the time to force staff and students into buildings without proper ventilation or PPE.
They are demanding that no staff be forced into school buildings for the rest of the school year and for no school-based job or budget cuts during or after the pandemic.
Instead, staff and parents are urging the district to focus on addressing the crises of remote learning infrastructure.
“We’re hoping by creating a spectacle and making some noise, maybe it will urge the district leadership and the school board to reconsider some of their decisions and take us up on some of our proposals,” union president Diamonte Brown said.
One of the parents at the rally was Jason Butler, who has four children.
“We understand it’s a huge inconvenience for everyone, but there’s no bigger inconvenience than our kids or extended family members getting sick,” he said. “There’s too much risk and our kids are not something we can take a gamble on.”
In a statement to WJZ, a Baltimore City Public Schools spokesperson says:
“We are hopeful that we can work with Baltimore teachers union on efforts that benefit students and staff members in the future. Protecting our students’ education while keeping both students and staff safe during the pandemic is challenging, but worthwhile.”
School officials have not yet confirmed a date on when in-person learning will resume.
City schools said in a statement to WJZ:
“We are aware of the Baltimore Teachers Union rally this evening and respect the right of members of our community to be heard. We have made several efforts to support our staff members, particularly our teachers, during this difficult time. We are hopeful that we can work with BTU on efforts that benefit students and staff members in the future. Protecting our students’ education while keeping both students and staff safe during the pandemic is challenging, but worthwhile. We encourage and welcome all community members to partner with us to do this work safely.”