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Teachers protest for a safer school reopening

Around 100 teachers protested at the Utah State Capitol, arguing it's too dangerous for schools to reopen.

SALT LAKE CITY – About 100 teachers caravanned to the State Capitol, with signs hanging off their cars with messages like, “Not Until It’s Safe” and “I can’t teach if I’m dead”. 

They drove from the old Sears building in downtown Salt Lake City, up State Street, and to the Capitol for a socially distanced rally to schools to delay their reopenings until more COVID-19 protections are in place. 

Elementary school teacher Brittany Goddard says kids come to school sick all the time, and she worries about her colleagues. 

“A lot of teachers are older and are high risk, and if they get ill, they aren’t going to be able to teach their students. And, then, parents aren’t going to be able to get the quality education that they’re demanding,” Goddard said. 

Middle school teacher Denise Fiack agrees that children have a very low chance of getting a serious case of COVID-19. But adults are another story. 

“We have families [in my district] who have multiple [generations at home]. If one of those kids gets sick, then that whole family’s in trouble, besides the teachers,” Fiack said. 

Many at Friday’s rally argued for the hybrid model the Davis School District is doing, with two days of on campus instruction and three online. They argued this would address their major concern about social distancing by keeping class sizes low. 

However, others said it wasn’t safe to hold classes on campus at all. 

“I just don’t feel safe returning to school. I’ve actually been considering quitting because I don’t feel safe in my classroom. There’s just not space for the students I will have this year,” said an elementary school teacher who did not want to be identified. 

Another demand was for the state to give them more personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies so they can go to school safely. 

Although Governor Gary Herbert, the Department of Health, and various school districts have not responded to these particular demands, both the state and various districts say they are following science and that teachers will have enough PPE this school year.