Teachers Rally In Lansing Against Re-Opening Schools

Christy Strawser
August 06, 2020 - 8:44 am
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(WWJ) The Michigan Caucus of Rank and File Educators --  a teacher's union also known as MI CORE -- will host a rally on the Capitol lawn in Lansing today to call attention to what they see as a dangerous situation: Any plan to bring kids back to class.

It's a question without an answer, one that teachers, administrators, students and parents are wrestling with: When is it OK to fill classrooms and schools again?

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The answer for the teacher's union seems to be, "not yet."

“When Governor Whitmer suspended in-person school instruction in March, there were only a few dozen cases in Michigan. Now, months later, we are seeing hundreds of new cases a day and it is clear that it is unsafe to resume in-person instruction," MI CORE wrote in a press release.

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"The goal of this rally is to see our state commit to reopening all schools safely, and also recognize the incredible trauma our students’ families are dealing with due to job losses, the looming threat of evictions, expiring unemployment benefits, lack of access to health care, and a host of other issues affecting our communities. In order to have a truly safe learning environment, state and federal officials need to provide the necessary funding to address these challenges.”

The rally comes as the American Federation of Teachers in Michigan says in-person learning should return only if the infection and transmission rates of the virus are under control.  They also want to ensure that any building that reopens for teachers and students meet the standards established by public health experts and that the district has implemented 'common sense' human resources policies that ensure no one feels pressured to return. 

MI CORE says that as coronavirus cases rise across the area, it's no longer safe to bring kids back. Michigan health officials announced yesterday the state is holding steady at 28,000 tests per day, and the percentage of positive tests are at 3.4%, down from 3.7% the previous week. Michigan has 94,045 cases, 657 of them reported yesterday, and 6,480 deaths. 

The goal of the rally is to have the state reopen all the schools but not until cases decline, and to remind people that the lives of teachers and other school staff is important, too.

The group is also highlighting the need for federal funds in local school system.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hasn't directed whether schools should resume, other than saying the state has delivered guidelines to local districts and the rest is up to them. She did, however, speak Wednesday on the importance of following safety guidelines to improve the chances. 

“I think that it’s really important that we stay focused on the fact that this virus doesn’t show up in numbers until a couple of weeks later, that’s the dangerous and insidious thing about COVID-19,” Gov. Whitmer said. “So we know that our actions today dictate whether we are able to safely resume some in-person instruction this fall.”