MN teachers protest for safe teaching conditions

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead |
July 24, 2020
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Minnesota teachers fight for safety.
Minnesota teachers fight for safety.

St. Paul, MN - On July 23 Education Minnesota, which represents 70,000 educators, held a car protest next to the State Capitol to pressure Governor Walz to continue to keep Minnesota schools closed to in-person instruction. Walz is expected to announce his plan for education during the COVID 19 pandemic on July 30.

Teachers lined up their cars for an hour before they began a car parade in Saint Paul, decorating their vehicles with signs that stated their demands for what they would need in order to feel safe teaching in person in their classrooms in the fall.

Before the car protest, Education Minnesota held a press conference which teachers listened to in their cars over Facebook Livestream. Teachers and other stakeholders spoke about their concerns for the fall and expressed their desire for Walz to take action to protect teachers. The union announced the results of a survey of more than 20,000 Minnesota educators on their preferred method of instruction this fall. Almost 50% of teachers surveyed said distance learning would be the best course of action for the fall.

The press conference featured an arrangement of 30 chairs spaced out six feet apart, to show how big a classroom would have to be in order to teach a full class of 30 students and social distance.

After the press conference teachers drove in a car parade that kept going for miles. Teachers waved to each other and honked loudly.

Cassie Pagel, a member of the Bloomington Federation of Teachers, told Fight Back!, “We care about our students and want things to go back to normal, but that isn’t possible. We are running out of time to plan for the fall. Governor Walz needs to stop pushing back the date for when we’ll find out about the school year. We need leadership now. Walz must step up and make a decision. As a former teacher, he knows how stressful this is for us. We can’t plan or prepare for September until we know what school will look like, until we are certain that everyone’s safety is our top priority, until we know that if we go into our buildings we will all have quality PPE, and until we have had enough time to prepare for this new format of teaching. Through all of this, it is clear how vital educators and school staff are in our communities. We should value them and their safety.”