Minneapolis, St. Paul educators and staff voice concerns with returning to in-person learning

It’s not boots on the ground in St. Paul, rather tires on the pavement as educators parked outside district headquarters in solidarity for a car rally. They want their voices and concerns to be heard.

Come February, both Minneapolis and St. Paul schools hope to bring some of their young learners back into school buildings.

But educators say their plans are lacking.

"Sitting recently in a district meeting and hearing a member of our district state, and I am paraphrasing, if teachers are anxious, students will also be anxious," said one Minneapolis educator.

Minneapolis teachers held a virtual news conference Tuesday to share their concerns, of which trust and respect were two main topics.

"We are asking when is the district going to show up for us as critical members of this community and work with us, when will we be listened to, when will we be trusted, when will we be respected as voices of those who are every day on the front lines," she continued.

Lindsay Walker is a visual arts teacher in St. Paul who interacts with at least 100 students per day.

"I am fearful and I know a lot of my colleagues share this fear that I’m going to become a super spreader and not going realize that I’m a super spreader," she said.

Walker says teachers would like to slow down and wait until they have the option to get the vaccine, along with a clear plan of how things will function to keep everyone safe, before returning to in-person classes.

"What will lunch look like exactly, what will PPE look like exactly, what are some of our contingency plans when things don’t go the way that we expect them to go," she questioned.

With regard to vaccinations, St. Paul schools say: "We cannot wait for all teachers to be vaccinated before opening. Our students cannot wait."

St. Paul Public Schools issued a statement regarding reopening in-person classes.

The Minneapolis schools superintendent says he believes the district has done all it can to put in proper health and safety protocols.

He said, "It’s time to allow informed choice by the people who know their families and their children best."

Minneapolis Public Schools statement on reopening can be read here.