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Granite teachers rally file photo
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Granite School District teachers rally against holding all classes on campus

FILE: Michelle La-Bonnell, a Granite School District educator, joined other teachers, staff and supporters in a protest outside of the district office in South Salt Lake on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. Photo: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SOUTH SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Hundreds of Granite School District teachers and their supporters dressed in red and headed to the district office in South Salt Lake to protest the district’s plan to hold classes on campus five days a week this fall. 

Cars and trucks passing by honked in support of the teachers, who also held signs which read “Safety over Convenience” and “COVID is not healthy for teachers”. 

Many at Tuesday’s rally, like Matheson Junior High School English teacher Andrew Anthony, felt the district’s COVID-19 safety plans were unrealistic, especially because it would be too difficult to space out the desks, and could put their lives in danger.

“I’ve got classes of anywhere from 30 to 37 [kids] already. They have a high risk of passing it on, and I’m 50 years old, overweight, with a heart condition. It feels as though the district hasn’t given much thought to my safety,” Anthony said. 

Although the district is giving students the option of taking online-only classes, many teachers said their classrooms are already filled to the brim. 

Special education teacher Maggie McAndrews said her job has special challenges. 

“We’re worried about how do they go to the bathroom? How do we share materials? How do we even teach anything? We’re just going to be teaching them to stay away from each other. I don’t think we’ll be teaching any curriculum,” McAndrews said. 

Although most teachers acknowledged that their students have a low chance of getting a serious case of COVID-19, they worried about kids passing on the virus to older relatives with whom they live. 

What would the teachers like fall classes to look like in the Granite School District? 

They rallied for a hybrid model, based on the one the Davis School District is using, where half of their students would take classes on campus and the others taking them online. The groups of students would alternate when they would be in class or stay home.

However, it’s unclear what changes the district is open to making two weeks before school starts. 

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