Photos Of Teachers Protesting Schools Reopening Document Their Fears & Concerns
Across the country, parents are trying to make a seriously difficult decision: Should they send their kids back to school? And they're not the only ones who are experiencing turmoil and anxiety over the potentially dangerous return to in-person education during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In fact, these photos of teachers protesting the reopening of schools are a powerful reminder that educators are worried about their students' lives as well as their own as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb.
Teachers in Florida, one of the states hit the hardest by the virus in recent weeks, are suing the state in an effort to block schools from reopening in August, according to NPR. Earlier this month, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued an emergency order to see all school districts reopen their classrooms for children for the upcoming school year, "at least five days per week."
Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis told reporters on Monday that while it was the Department of Education that signed the order, he did not want to see students to "fall behind." According to Politico, he said: "We don’t want folks to fall behind. And we really, really want to focus on the best interest of our students and giving parents the maximum amount of choices to be able to make the best decision they can."
The lawsuit filed by the American Federation of Teachers and the Florida Education Association (FEA) alleges that the state's order to reopen schools the violates the Florida Constitution that says "public school onsite instruction and operations must be opened safely." FEA President Fedrick Ingram told The Hill that DeSantis "needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control." "Everyone wants schools to reopen, but we don’t want to begin in-person teaching, face an explosion of cases and sickness, then be forced to return to distance learning," Fedrick told The Hill. "Florida's Constitution demands that public schools be safe. Teachers and parents want our schools to meet that basic standard."
Teachers echoed that statement as they took to the street to voice their concerns.
Teachers Are Parents Too
As this teacher's sign reminded drivers during a protest in Hillsborough County, Florida, outside the Hillsborough County School District office, she is a "mom and a teacher" who is asking people, "Don't kill my kid, and don't kill me."
Mental Health Is A Priority
On July 16, school counselor Laura Hottenstein joined the Hillsborough County protest to remind people as they passed by in their cars that "student safety is mental health."
No One Can Teach "From The Grave"
Florida teacher Brittany Myers held a sign during the Hillsborough County protest that said it all: "I can't teach from the grave."
Teachers Expect A Reasonable Plan
First grade teacher Yolanda Vasquez held a sign during the protest reminding people that teachers "don't accept incomplete work. We need a better plan." As CNN reported, teachers who launched the lawsuit against the state of Florida's decision to reopen are concerned that the plan to get kids back in the classroom is not realistic.
Teachers Are Ready To Work, But Don't Want To Die
Middle school teacher Danielle Weigand delivered the message that teachers "want to work," but they "don't want to die" with her sign.
Pre-Kindergarten teacher Chardae Duffy made an excellent point with her sign during the Hillsborough County protest in Tampa; she pointed out that the air conditioning in her school didn't work, so "how can you afford to keep us safe?"
Using Math To Make A Point
Florida teacher Juan Duarte joined others in the protest to stop schools from reopening too quickly in Tampa Bay, Florida. He used the example of Tommy, a boy going to math class for six hours a day with an average of 20 other kids per class. How can Tommy stay safe? That's the real question.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.