Mississippi Teachers group to rally at State Capitol as they ask start of school to be delayed

A Mississippi Teachers Group called “Mississippi Teachers Unite” wrote an open letter to Governor Tate Reeves and they are planning a rally at the state Capitol asking for a delay to school, among other things.

The group is planning on rallying at the Capitol on Friday, July 1th starting at 11 am.

From the group via their Facebook page:

Problem:
Chronically underfunded schools as well as unclear guidelines do not give us the ability to reopen schools safely and may cause preventable long term illness or death among students, teachers, staff, and their families.

Solutions:

1. MDE must postpone a dangerous reopening until at least September 1st to ensure safe school environments.
a. The Mississippi Department of Education must recognize its responsibility to protect students, teachers, and school staff.
b. MDE needs to verify that schools can meet most up to date CDC guidelines for a safe environment.

2. Fully fund MAEP

Join us Friday to rally for the safety of our students and our communities!

From their open letter to Tate Reeves:

Governor Reeves:

The highest priority of any teacher is to ensure the safety of the children under his or her care. We, as Mississippi teachers, are writing to express our concerns regarding the safe return of students to school this fall and to request that all necessary measures be taken to ensure that a return to the classroom provides both a safe environment and effective, consistent instruction.

To this end, we respectfully ask that the opening of all Mississippi K-12 schools be delayed until at least after Labor Day in order to give districts (especially those with fewer economic resources) time to both order and receive the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) necessary to ensure a safe return to classrooms. As you know, there is a shortage of PPE nationwide and delays in shipping are common. This extra time would also allow districts time to develop more effective safety protocols and to receive technology resources for distance learning (should that become necessary again). Should we be required to return to distance learning, this extra time to acquire resources and develop strategies to address inequities such as internet access could be the difference between effective distance learning and inadequate learning opportunities for our students.

We further request that a return to on-site instruction be contingent upon Mississippi adequately meeting the CDC guidelines for re-opening. If we re-open before health professionals recommend, we run the risk of returning to school only to risk a resurgence of the COVID virus and an abrupt return to distance learning. Effective instruction requires consistency. Shifting between on-site instruction and distance learning repeatedly could seriously compromise the effectiveness of academic instruction.

We implore you to continue working with the legislature and the Mississippi Department of Education to make sure all districts have adequate time, funds, and advisory support to provide our students with a school year that provides relatively consistent, effective learning opportunities. Fully funding MAEP and appropriating additional funds for PPE and distance learning resources are key elements for developing efficient, effective safety procedures and instructional strategies. Mississippi has been making great strides in education, and we do not want to lose our progress to unsafe openings or inconsistent instruction.

As teachers who love students, we miss our kids and are anxious to be back in our classrooms. We would much prefer to be learning names, shaking hands with parents, engaging with kids in our classrooms and through other school activities, and seeing that spark of understanding that happens when something we’re teaching finally clicks in a student’s brain. However none of that happens without a sense of safety and security. Using distance learning as a vehicle for instruction may take away some of the rewarding classroom moments but it would be selfish of us to put our students’ lives in danger to achieve a celebratory moment. Keeping our students and our community safe ensures that we and, more importantly, our students will have those moments of connection later and for the rest of our lives.

We thank you for your time and for your efforts to create a safer and better Mississippi for our students.

Sincerely,

Mississippi Teachers

Jon Ross Myers

Jon Ross Myers is the executive editor and publisher of the Mississippi News Network, Mississippi's largest digital only media company. He can be reached at editor@tippahnews.com

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