Tuesday, October 6, 2020
After school hours on Monday, Oct. 6, dozens of members of the Tucson Unified School District gathered in front of the district headquarters to protest planned school reopenings.
In a meeting last month, the school board voted to move forward with a hybrid learning model beginning Monday, Oct. 19. However several teachers and staff are demanding in-person classes to be delayed until classroom gatherings are safe, citing Pima County Health Department’s recommendation that there should be no groups more than 10.
The TUSD Board is scheduled to meet tonight to determine the next step in reopening schools. The district's plan, as it stands now, is to have students attend schools two days a week in separate groups and work independently at home or elsewhere on the other three days.
“This is a public expression of our sentiment: We simply don’t want to reopen until it’s safe,” said Marea Jenness, a science teacher at Tucson High. “I don’t think the masks cut it. In my opinion, we should wait until there’s a vaccine.”
While PCHD's COVID-19 Progress Report indicates the majority of local health criteria are making progress or have been met, the demonstrators argue social distancing and telecommuting remain vital to stop the virus’ spread.
Demonstrators displayed a quote from one Pueblo High School student: “I miss my friends and remote learning is hard! But I don’t want to risk infecting my family. I couldn’t live with the guilt.”
Jenness, who has a preexisting lung condition, says she received a letter from the school district acknowledging her condition, but stating she should prepare for schools to reopen regardless.
“We are talking about human lives, not just a number,” Jenness said. “It’s mostly a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, which can happen in a large district like ours… We’re talking about potential funerals for teachers and students.”