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Teachers Are Protesting Florida's Plan To Reopen Schools In August

teacher in front of class
Teachers concerned about the reopening of Pinellas County schools during the COVID-19 pandemic were joined by teachers and students in protesting in Largo Tuesday. A similar protest is scheduled for Wednesday's FL Dept of Education board meeting in Dover.

Pinellas County teachers, parents and students protested in Largo Tuesday against the reopening of in-person classes next month.

And there's a rally planned for Hillsborough schools Wednesday at a Florida Department of Education board meeting in Dover.

Jennifer Kious, an English teacher at Durant High School in Plant City, said teachers, faculty and parents are afraid to go back to regular in-person classes as COVID-19 cases continue to shatter records.

She said this is an unacceptable way to start the school year.

“Teachers’ voices, especially in Florida, haven't always been heard,” said Kious. “Gov. DeSantis has said that this is the year of the teacher and he's made a commitment to wanting to listen to teachers and work with teachers, but we haven't really seen that yet as far as the pandemic.”

She said they would feel safe if protocols were in place, like only returning when there’s 14 straight days of no new cases in the county, or having answers about what will happen if one child in her class gets sick: does everyone have to quarantine?

Kious was watching the Pinellas teacher protest on social media Tuesday.

"I was seeing some of the commenters who were saying some things like ‘maybe teachers just don't want to be at work,’ or ‘they want an endless summer,’ or something like that. And I cannot disagree with that more,” she said. “When we were e-learning, it was far more work than being in a regular classroom."

Kious said she and many others had never experienced virtual learning before, and then were suddenly having to teach multiple class periods. She was also navigating around parents’ schedules and sometimes had to work with kids at all hours of the night to accommodate them.

She said she would love to get back to brick-and-mortar schooling, but said it's just not practical or safe to do so right now, so she has spent her summer training for e-learning.

What: State Board of Education Meeting / Teacher Protest
When: July 15, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.
Where: Strawberry Crest High School
4691 Gallagher Road
Dover, FL 33527

Since 2012, I’ve been a voice on public radio stations across Florida - in Miami, Fort Myers, and now Tampa.