The Oklahoma Education Association is demanding action from state leaders to keep students and teachers safe when returning to school this fall. In a meeting Thursday morning, they said they want strict enforcement in classrooms or to go back to virtual learning.
In a virtual meeting Thursday morning, representatives from the Oklahoma Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, Oklahoma Edvocates, Oklahoma chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pastors for Oklahoma Kids, and a rising high school senior student came together to share their demands for the 2020-2021 school year.
They all say they are begging for Oklahoma government officials to make safety a priority in schools before students and teachers start dying.
President of the Oklahoma Education Association says there are measures that should be mandated if they are returning to in-person learning for the fall semester.
“To ensure a safe learning environment, the state must require masks for everyone inside school buildings, they must have PPE for anyone who would like to wear it, soap and sanitizer readily available, and hand washing procedures implemented,” Priest says.
American Federation of Teachers president Mary Best says she thinks a delayed start date should be implemented along with alternative learning options for those who have medical conditions.
“Schools may need to delay opening, use a modified schedule, or return to online learning upon returning to school,” Best says. “Safety requirements must be in place and we must adapt to a new normal.”
Right now, all safety requirements are decided by each school district, not as a statewide mandate, and that is what Priest wants changed.
“We shouldn’t have to beg our leaders to care about the children and our colleagues and we won’t hesitate to defend the safety of our schools,” Priest says.
Rising high school senior Morgan McClellan says she would like to return to learning in person and knows many other students would as well, but wants precautions for those who feel safe attending and options for those who don’t.
“Providing them a program through each school system would be a great option for those who don’t feel safe going back to school or are immunocompromised or live with someone who is,” McClellan says.
Teachers are scheduled to return to their classrooms in just a few weeks to begin preparing for the fall semester but these professionals say they’re going to continue to fight every second for themselves and their students until safety is made a priority.