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Friday, 31 July 2020

'Dead students can't learn': Teachers stage mock funeral procession in protest to Gov. Bill Lee's residence as they demand Tennessee schools not be reopened until districts see 14 days without new COVID cases

Teachers from across Tennessee gathered in Nashville and put on a mock funeral procession to protest against unsafely reopening schools in the state, as coronavirus continues to surge in the country. 
Dozens took to the Nashville Farmers' Market on Monday to participate in a 'Die In and Vigil,' WKRN reports. 
From there, the teachers headed to Governor Bill Lee's residence where teachers shouted: 'Dead teachers can't teach. Dead students can't learn.' 
Dozens of educators took part in the 'Die In and Vigil' on Monday to protest Tennessee schools reopening without meeting set requirements
Dozens of educators took part in the 'Die In and Vigil' on Monday to protest Tennessee schools reopening without meeting set requirements
Teachers posted signs on their cars that looked like tombstones and read: 'Dead teachers can't teach. Dead students can't learn.'
Teachers posted signs on their cars that looked like tombstones and read: 'Dead teachers can't teach. Dead students can't learn.'
Educators wrote messages across their vehicles, with others holding signs that declared that the Republican governor did not care about public education. 
The event was hosted by the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association and the Tennessee for a Safe Return to Campus, Community Impact reports. 
'We're going to ensure everyone is safe, and we're not letting anyone fall through the cracks,' Metropolitan Nashville Education Association President Amanda Kail said during the protest event.
 'I don't care if you're a bus driver, a paraprofessional or a teacher ... We need all of our students and all of our people safe. We're telling [Gov. Bill Lee] to do the right thing and make sure there is a baseline of safety in every district in this state.' 
A protester prepares a sign on a car before the protest, which started at the Nashville Farmers' Market
A protester prepares a sign on a car before the protest, which started at the Nashville Farmers' Market
Protesters drive by the Tennessee governor's residence during the demonstration
Protesters drive by the Tennessee governor's residence during the demonstration

The Tennessee for a Safe Return to Campus group consists of teachers, staff, parents and students calling for districts across the state to begin the school year remotely and to not return to campus until individual counties report no new cases of the coronavirus for at least two weeks. 
On June 9, Metro Nashville Public Schools announced that the academic year would begin virtually on August 4. The instruction is expected to last until Labor Day, said Director of School Adrienne Battle.
'Our nation has not prioritized the steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 ... We had every reason to believe we were on track to be in Phase 4 [of the city's reopening plan] by the time schools are scheduled to open on Aug. 4, or at least at the end of Phase 3,' Battle said July 9. 'In the last few weeks, the numbers have caused many of us to rethink our optimism.' 
Educator Mariah Phillips speaks during the protests
Educator Mariah Phillips speaks during the protests
A protester prepares a sign to go on a car. Teachers are demanding adequate resources for when students areat home
A protester prepares a sign to go on a car. Teachers are demanding adequate resources for when students areat home
A passenger holds a sign while riding in the procession. The educators are also asking for adequate supplies, personnel and facilities 'to safely share space on campus and react aggressively to any resurgence of COVID-19'
A passenger holds a sign while riding in the procession. The educators are also asking for adequate supplies, personnel and facilities 'to safely share space on campus and react aggressively to any resurgence of COVID-19'
Parents will have the option to keep their students in remote learning, once school returns, Battle shared. 
'At MNPS, we are lucky that we have great competent leadership in Dr. Battle,' said a post by Greater Nashville for a Safe Return to Campus, a subgroup of Tennessee for a Safe Return to Campus. 'Her plan for remote learning seems solid and well planned out. I have faith that she will not allow us to return until it's safe to do so ... For this movement, we say there needs to be no new cases for 14 days before schools can safely open.' 
The Tennessee for a Safe Return to Campus is asking for adequate access to technology so that distance learning can prove beneficial for both students and teachers. 
They are also asking for adequate supplies, personnel and facilities 'to safely share space on campus and react aggressively to any resurgence of COVID-19.'  
The Metropolitan Nashville Education Association and the Tennessee for a Safe Return to Campus hosted the event
The Metropolitan Nashville Education Association and the Tennessee for a Safe Return to Campus hosted the event
A teacher holds a sign that reads: 'Here lies education. 2 + 2 = DEAD'

A teacher holds a sign that reads: 'Here lies education. 2 + 2 = DEAD'

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