Teachers hold virtual call to action to demand in-person learning be delayed

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Difficult decisions about returning to the classroom continue to happen across the mid-state, and teachers are weighing in.

On Monday, several teachers unions from across the state held a virtual “call to action” demanding that Governor Bill Lee halt in-person learning until certain parameters are met.

“We need low incidents of coronavirus infection and we need two weeks stability of that low incidence,” said Dr. Amy Gordon Bono, an internal medicine physician who spoke during the virtual meeting.

In simpler terms, Bono said the state needs fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people for two weeks.

Dr. Aaron Milstone, a pulmonologist, weighed in saying, “…teachers should not have to carry the burden of fighting the global pandemic on their own.”

Throughout the virtual conference call, several teachers, bus drivers, and faith leaders shared personal testimonies about they believe in-person learning is unsafe.

“We teach our students to base their answers on facts and evidence,” Rutherford County Education Association President Laura Schlessinger said. “Rutherford County Schools’ educators returned to their respective schools today despite the fact that the state is in the red and our county has the third-highest number of active COVID-19 cases in Tennessee.”

So far, Metro Public Schools is the only mid-state district to commit its students to complete virtual learning this fall.

“Until everybody is safe in Tennessee, we have to be concerned and we have to stick up for each other.” said Amanda Kail, President of the Metro Nashville Education Association.

Tiffany Crow feels the same way. Her district in West Tennessee has committed to a full virtual plan but after battling COVID-19 herself, she wants to make sure that no teacher or student is at risk.

“I have maybe one-tenth of the energy I used to have,” Crow said. “I still have digestive issues. I’m now severely anemic and I never was before.”

The list of her lingering problems goes on. She added that she believes there is no way students and teachers can safely and effectively return for in-person learning.

“The one-on-one instruction that parents love about in-person learning, isn’t going to be there. We will all be wearing masks, and teachers will have to keep a safe distance from students,” Crow said.

Schlessinger added, “…bottom line is, we do not feel safe at work.”

For next steps, several teachers’ unions are asking other educators and concerned parents to sign this petition.

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