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We are risking their very lives': Baltimore County teachers rally against reopening schools, ask for safe plan for return

Posted at 9:56 PM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 08:00:27-04

TOWSON, Md. — Dozens of Baltimore County teachers came together for a rally in Towson to protest the school district’s plan that will bring students with special needs and teachers back into the classroom next month.

“If BCPS continuously states that the safety and health of our students and staff have always been our top priorities, then what is the rush?," asked Anna Melton, a special educator at Ridge Ruxton School.

Teachers fear opening separate day schools, where kids with underlying conditions attend, could prove to be dangerous for everyone involved and possibly deadly for some.

“It is just completely unsafe right now for these children to be in a school environment," said a parent involved with PTA at Ridge Ruxton. "We are risking their very lives.”

“How can we safely reopen if we cannot follow the CDC strategies for mitigation," added Melton.

Currently, the district’s plan is open separate day schools for students on November 16th, while others continue virtual learning until January. Teachers from the four separate day schools are scheduled to go back on November 2nd.

The president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County (TABCO) Cindy Sexton wants the board to work with the union to come up with a safe and sustained reopening plan that ensures schools can follow CDC guidelines.

“We are not against in person learning. We just want to make sure it is done safely," said Sexton. “We want to make sure the plan is fully developed before we send educators back to school.”

As a caravan of teachers went off to the board of education building, they were met by parents and students who are demanding for schools to reopen.

Suzanne Fowbel was one of the parents. She has two kids who go to county schools. She said virtual learning is not working for them.

“We realize there are individuals who do not feel safe going into the classroom and there should be virtual options available for those individuals," Fowbel said.

"Our kids are suffering," she added.

A spokesperson from Baltimore County school district sent us a statement, which said the district will continue to work with families and staff on its plan. The district said its listening to the county’s health experts, adding "families will continue to have a virtual learning model to choose from if they have concerns about in-person instruction."

Full statement from BCPS below:

"BCPS will continue to work closely with families and staff as we consider the safe return of small groups. We will continue to receive frequent updates from the Baltimore County Health Department and health experts from throughout the region. Families will continue to have a virtual learning model to choose from if they have concerns about in-person instruction."