ST PAUL, Minn. — Dozens of people held a car rally in St. Paul Tuesday night to express their concerns about sending kids back to the classroom.
With car horns blaring, headlights flashing and signs waving, staff and parents with St. Paul Public Schools came together in a unique way. Backing one message to state and district leaders.
"We are asking that all educators have the opportunity to have a full course of the vaccination," said Lindsay Walker, a visual arts teacher at Benjamin E Mays IB World School.
Their push comes just weeks after Gov. Tim Walz's announcement to allow elementary schools to return to in-person learning if they so choose, as early as Jan. 18, leaving the decision solely in the hands of each district.
"There's no specific guidance statewide right, and so it feels like everybody's left to their own, and so for that reason there's no consistent measures about how we go forth," said Nick Faber, President of St. Paul Federation of Educators.
The Department of Education has outlined specific guidelines for districts to re-open, in accordance with the state's Safe Learning Plan.
St. Paul plans to bring elementary students through 5th grade back to class Feb. 1.
However, for those at Tuesday's rally, the risks outweigh the benefits of a return at that point, at least right now.
"I feel like we should be putting our energy right now into making distance learning as good as it can be," said Walker.
"As an emergency room nurse, it's not safe yet. They need to be vaccinated so that way they can come back safely," said Brittany Livaccari, an ER Nurse at United Hospital.
A statement from St. Paul Public Schools says their reopening plan aligns with the state guidelines, and can be modified at any time, if needed.
"I believe that going back to school without a plan and under the current timeline that we have from the district, is treating our families' health as unimportant," said Walker.
SPPS district leaders say parents who wish to keep their kids home, come Feb. 1, can do so with distance learning.
Minneapolis Public Schools plans to return to in-person learning with a two-phase approach. The plan, barring any health and safety factors that would prevent it, will be to bring elementary staff back on Feb. 1 and begin with Pre K-Grade 2 students returning the week of Feb. 8. The next cohort of Grade 3-5 students will return two weeks later on Feb. 22. Secondary students will remain in distance learning.
MPS will vote to approve their plan in a special meeting on Jan. 19th.