OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – With just a few weeks away from the start of the new school year in Osceola County, dozens of teachers and parents raised their concerns with a drive-by protest in front of the administrative building for the school district of Osceola County.
“(I feel) anxiety, anxiety...to say the least,” Tamika Lyles, an Osceola County teacher said.
Lyles said she feels anxious because the county school board has not been responsive to teachers’ concerns about going back into the classroom in the midst of a pandemic.
“Are the teachers gonna be notified, are the parents gonna be notified when there is a positive case inside our classrooms?” she asked. “We are incurring costs. Are we supposed to use our time, our personal leave, and all of that when we’re on sick leave for COVID? It’s just so much and no one is answering these questions.”
Lyle took to social media to organize a teacher protest a couple of hours before the school board met to discuss their reopening plan, which has already been approved by the state.
“I have very, very high concerns that we are not abiding by the CDC guidelines. Students’ desks are only gonna be three to four feet apart and they need to be six feet apart,” Lyles, a tenth-grade teacher, said. “The school is saying, ‘Well you know, we’re gonna take temperatures,' but we know temperatures are not accurate because they’re not adequate because you have asymptomatic people.”
Dozens of teachers and parents voiced their concerns by honking horns and with messages and signs displayed across their vehicles. Lyles said the school board should delay reopening. Osceola County School board already pushed back the date to Aug. 24.
“It’s not that we don’t love our children because we do, we want the best for them,” Laren Allen, president of the Osceola County Education Association, said. “I think I’m safe in saying that we want them to go just a little bit further than we’ve gone but we also don’t want to risk anyone’s life.”
On Aug. 10, teachers are expected to go back to work for pre-planning. According to the county school board, one of those days will be dedicated to new safety protocols.