Teachers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, held a protest Wednesday calling for more safety precautions as they prepare for the resumption of the academic year later this month.
The Lawrence Teachers’ Union called for health and safety criteria to be met before educators return to the classroom, during an outdoor protest and car caravan outside the Parthum Complex.
"A lot of people getting sick. I, myself, lost my mother to this pandemic, to this virus," Lawrence teacher Louis Espinoza said Wednesday. "I think this is something we should take very serious, because lives are being lost, and we don't want to lose people's lives over, you know, 'Oh, we are ready to open the schools' when we're not ready."
The union says that while students will be learning remotely to begin the start of the year, school buildings are unsafe for teachers, who are expected to work from their classrooms.
Specifically, the union is calling on the district to upgrade schools' ventilation systems "to prevent airborne coronavirus transmission" and provide access to rapid on-site COVID-19 testing.
Lawrence has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and is listed as a "high-risk" community by state officials.
“If our school buildings are unsafe for students, how can it be safe for hundreds of educators – many of them at a high risk of death or severe illness if they catch the coronavirus – to congregate in the very same buildings every day?” said Kim Barry, President of the Lawrence Teachers’ Union.
“How does it make sense to bring educators who live in dozens of surrounding communities back to a COVID hot spot to work in an unsafe building, and then send them home to possibly infect their families?"
Lawrence isn't the only community where teachers are protesting for greater safety precautions.
The Sharon Teachers Association is expected to hold a rally Wedesday demanding that the district halt its hybrid learning plan, citing air quality concerns that the union claims does not meet minimum safety standards.