Metro Nashville Public school teachers rally for safer return to classrooms

Posted at 9:05 PM, Nov 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 23:33:30-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — Teachers are demanding safer classrooms, and they made sure their voices were heard at Tuesday night's Metro Nashville Public School Board meeting.

A Metro Nashville Education Association (MNEA) survey found that many Metro teachers do not feel safe teaching students in classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was open for two days and received 620 responses. The responses came from 84 schools, including all 73 MNPS elementary schools.

The MNEA is currently advocating for all students to return to virtual learning, and for additional support for students and families who may be struggling as a result.

"A lot of teachers right now are feeling that they are in some medical experiment and they didn’t consent to that," said MNEA President Amanda Kail, "The fact that we have to keep quarantining people means whatever’s in place is not clearly working."

After rallying outside the board of education building, teachers and supporters took their message inside the board meeting for public comment.

"People are in classrooms without ventilation, no social distancing with kids that are not able to move around they are not able to get close to. They’re deeply concerned about everyone’s health and safety and we just need people to listen," said Kail.

As some teachers are asking to return to virtual learning for the elementary students, not every Metro teacher agrees with the move.

"I wanted to be here tonight to say that there's others where being in-person is succeeding for us and it’s succeeding for the parents and the students," said Kelly Gouveia, Charlotte Park Elementary school teacher.

Another small group of teachers rallied outside as well, asking members to keep the doors open to the schools doing things right.

"I don’t feel that parents have a voice at least the ones that need their children in school," said Susan Saar, Gower Elementary school teacher, "A lot of teachers don’t have a voice, they feel they’ll be retaliated against if they speak out about the need to be in school."

When asked if she feels safe in her classroom, Saar said yes.

"I do, but I also feel that’s a personal responsibility. I think the school does everything it can, they ask us, they give us guidelines, we wash, we separate, we sanitize, Saar said.

These teachers say it’s not about choosing sides it’s about listening to all voices in the room.

The Board did not make any decision tonight on return or virtual school plans.