JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While some parents, students and teachers are ready to return to school next month, many say this isn’t the time. Some of those people joined an effort Tuesday to make their voices heard.
Parents, teachers and members of the activist groups Duval for a Safe Return to Campus and the Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team held a motorcade march to the Duval County Public Schools headquarters as the School Board gathered to discuss its back-to-school plan. They honked, displayed messages on their vehicles and spoke up.
“Our schools are here to teach our kids and not to get everybody sick,” one demonstrator said.
A school district police officer sectioned off the route in front of the building, limiting the cars’ direction of travel and keeping everyone moving.
“They know that we have a valid point and I don’t see it so much as them saying, ‘We don’t want you here.’ But it’s like, ‘Maybe quiet down,” said Stacie Dern, one of the organizers who is also a parent and a teacher.
Teachers like Michelle McGurr said that with COVID-19 cases still going up, now isn’t the time to reopen.
“There is no feasible way to keep distance in a high school situation when you’re changing classes. My classroom, with its setup, I would have to classes of maybe six in order to keep a safe distance,” McGurr said.
While said she misses the classroom, until the number of COVID-19 cases goes down, McGurr said continued distance learning is what makes sense.
“I want to go back to school. I love teaching, I love my students. My daughter wants to go back to school and see her friends. But until it is physically safe to do so, we shouldn’t be sending them back,” McGurr said.
Both the parents we spoke with, like everyone in the protest wore a face mask. They shared concerns about students wearing masks for an entire school day and worried about students would not follow the mask guidelines.