Lawrence teachers, parents protest returning to class

Lawrence teachers, parents protest returning to class

LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) – Monday night teachers in Lawrence are calling on their district not to reopen until they can do so safely.

They met in the parking lot, staying in their cars or six feet apart to maintain social distancing.

Miranda Haley is an art teacher at a Lawrence Middle School. Like many educators, she is worried about the safety of her students and herself.

“We have a lot of students with health concerns and with cases going up and up and up, we’re just concerned, and one death is too many,” Haley said.

She says teachers in the district either want schools to completely comply with CDC guidelines for schools or continue with online only instruction until Douglas County has no reported cases for two weeks.

She says school officials have so far been responsive to their request.

“We hope the district can put resources to everyone having the materials they need. Access to internet, electronic devices. It can be done. It’s not ideal but neither is a pandemic,” Haley said.

Teachers began protesting at 6 p.m. in Lawrence. KCTV5 News’ Abbey Dodge attended the board meeting and talked to the teachers and parents who were protesting.

“But, honestly I think this is more about saving lives than anything else. It’s the bottom line,” retired school administrator Martina Thompson said.

With her 6th grader by her side, Selenna Beebe says she’s working from home having meetings over Zoom to limit exposure, just like the school board is Monday night.

“If you have to meet via a Zoom meeting, then maybe it’s too soon to subject our kids to this,” Beebe said.

In the board’s online meeting, the majority of people who sent in comments for the board to read are against opening school buildings.

Sandy Theilen is a teacher in the school district. She says thinking about walking into a school building next month is keeping her up at night.

“Yes, I know people are concerned about academics and the social, emotional needs but that doesn’t compare to losing a life,” Theilen said.

The Beebe’s say they aren’t waiting on the district. Beebe is looking into online options for her son.

“I have no other choice,” Beebe said.

With his family in mind, Jaiden Beebe says he doesn’t want to go to school in-person.

“I don’t want to catch COVID and give it to my grandma,” Jaiden said.

While Lawrence Public Schools says it will wait until August 1st to make a final decision on in-person learning, it started to lay out a plan Monday night for students inside their buildings.

Dr. Lewis says the district will wait to make a final decision on the logistics of back to school when the state gives its final guidance. That guidance should come at the end of this week.