BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Don Turner with the Mississippi Chapter of Refuse to Return had some powerful words at Saturday’s Mississippi Teacher’s Unite rally in Biloxi.
“Every single expert - every expert - has pushed for a delay,” he said. “What’s being unsaid here by MDE, by your local school districts, by Gov. Tate Reeves is that there is an acceptable amount of you and your children who could die from COVID-19 for us to be traditional.”
In this case, those words are being preached to the choir.
“I at least hoped we would see like, what, 100 people and we’d be able to socially distance out here and wear our masks, but we’ve had little turnout today,” said organizer Daniela Werner. “I think that’s because people are afraid of gathering in groups, which is totally understandable with our current problem with the virus. But, they’re also afraid of speaking out on this issue because the school districts have so much ... I’ll just say, power.”
Margie Hudson, a third-grade teacher in the Pine Belt region, will not be silenced.
“If I have a student in my class that gets it, and then I quarantine until I find out that I’m negative and then another kid gets positive, I go right back into the same cycle again,” she said. “So, how many times are going to quarantine people, students, teachers until we shut things back down again? I mean, how systemic does it have to get?”
The organization’s members are calling for a month-long delay, although they realize it may not be enough.
Werner, a mother of a third-grade student in the Ocean Springs School District, sees this as something the community should fear, not just those in school.
“I’m afraid that we’re going to reopen, we’re not going to have socially distanced classrooms, teachers are going to get sick, students are going to transmit the virus - and we’re now seeing they also get sick, and then the community is going to have another transmission problem. A bigger one than we had before.”