Educators Rally At Capitol To Call For Safe School Reopenings Guided By Experts
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Educators from across the state rallied at the Utah State Capitol for districts to comply with CDC guidelines before sending students and teachers back to the classroom.
They said Thursday those measures need to go beyond masks, and they are calling on state leaders to make it happen.
Dozens showed up, masked up, and made their voices heard as they demonstrated outside the Capitol Building and gathered signatures.
“Don’t just leave it up to teachers!” Educators want medical professionals to be part of the conversation on determining if schools are fit to open and what needs to be done to make it safe. Details on @KSL5TV pic.twitter.com/F84SIIDlkL
— Felicia Martinez (@FeliciaKSL) July 23, 2020
“It’s not just about masks,” said teacher and special needs advocate Steve Phelps. “It’s about all the CDC guidelines.”
While they said they appreciate the flexibility given by the Gov. Gary Herbert’s mask mandate in schools, they said it also needs to be more defined.
“We’re not doctors, but we think doctors should be brought to the table,” said teacher and mother Wendy Moss.
Educators said wearing masks is one critical element, but so is socials distancing.
“What we want is additional protection for teachers who have a mask exempt student in their classroom,” said Moss.
“We’re asking the governor to follow the CDC guidelines and the Department of Health guidelines and enforce social distancing as a mandate – just like he has masks,” said Phelps.
Part of that concern is not only for the teachers, but for students who may need extra strict guidelines in order to be safe.
“Students with special needs are by far more likely to have underlying health issues that are going to cause major concern with COVID if they get exposed,” said Phelps.
Another concern is parents who take a political stand and don’t allow their kids to wear masks.
“I would call on school districts to require some sort of medical documentation to actually receive mask exemption,” said Phelps.
Overall, they said they just want protection for all.
— Derek Petersen (@Derek_Photog) July 23, 2020
“What we really want is for the governor to appoint experts, infectious disease experts, people who have studied the spread of COVID-19, to approve these plans, to say, ‘Yes, this is safe, this will mitigate the spread,’ or, ‘No, this isn’t,’” said Moss.
Another issue educators noted is schools have windows that can’t open due to school shooter safety measures. So teachers want HVAC systems that are CDC compliant and won’t recycle air.
The educators said they want Herbert to lead the districts on what to do and to bring in the health department to make sure both students and teachers are safe.
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