They rallied in more than 35 school districts, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, calling for a safe, scientific, racially just and fully funded approach to reopening schools during the outbreak of COVID-19.
The teachers and support staff demanded that schools hold off until scientific data supports such a move, safety protocols such as lower class sizes and virus testing are established, and schools are staffed with adequate numbers of counselors and nurses, according to a website set up for the demonstrations.
They also demanded financial help for parents in need, including rent and mortgage assistance, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures and cash assistance, Reuters said.
US President Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election in November, has made school reopenings in August and September part of his re-election campaign.
Trump is trailing in opinion polls against presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden ahead of the November election as the US continues to be ravaged by the coronavirus.
The protesting teachers said they want instruction conducted online until testing shows that classrooms are safe and districts hire more nurses and counselors.
“I do not want to put my students or myself in harm’s way. I do not want to be an experiment,” a Chicago elementary school teacher said.
The teachers at a Lincoln, Nebraska, protest said they asked Republican Governor Pete Ricketts “not try to kill children.”
Trump continues to slam health officials
On Monday, Trump lashed out at Deborah Birx, the coordinator of Trump’s coronavirus task force, after said warned COVID-19 is “extraordinarily widespread” in the US.
“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread,” Birx told CNN.
She said the United States is in a new phase of the outbreak with infections in rural areas as well as cities.
Trump accused Birx of capitulating to criticism from Democrats that the federal government’s response to the pandemic has been ineffective.
“So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combating the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!” Trump wrote.
House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi said Birx has “enabled” Trump, who initially played down the seriousness of the coronavirus and pushed for a quick reopening of the economy and schools following weeks of lockdowns.
“I don’t have confidence in anyone who stands there while the president says swallow Lysol (disinfectant) and it’s going to cure your virus,” Pelosi said in a reference to Trump at a coronavirus briefing in April with Birx present.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, said Monday that US states with spiraling case numbers should consider re-imposing lockdown restrictions on residents and businesses.
The coronavirus has infected 4.6 million people in the United States and killed more than 155,000 Americans since February, according to a Reuters tally.
The virus deaths are rising in 31 states, up from 27 states a week ago, according to a Reuters analysis of the past two weeks compared with the prior two weeks.