Pinellas County teachers plan rally to oppose school board’s reopening plan

Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Pinellas County School District drafted a back to school plan Friday and not everyone is happy about it.

In the proposal, the district said parents have a choice to either send students to their school or do online learning, but some teachers say no one should go back to the building until the pandemic is over.

“Teachers are not blind to the fact that for some of our most vulnerable students, virtual learning is not the most equitable,” Pinellas County high school teacher Dr. Christy Foust said. “But our perspective on that is we want them alive. They have no chance to learn if they’re dead or in ICU.”

School leaders are set to gather at the Pinellas County School Headquarters Tuesday to discuss the fate of thousands of teachers and students for the upcoming school year. Dr. Foust said she plans to rally outside that meeting along with other concerned teachers.

“There are a few reasons why I feel so strong,” she said. “For one, life or death. I would like to live. I’m 42-years-old and I feel like I have a lot to contribute to this planet.”

Foust feels unsafe with the county’s drafted plan.

“This isn’t about teachers saying, ‘I don’t feel safe going back to work.’ This is about it being unsafe for our students to go back to school.”

She’s part of a group of teachers who say they have a better plan.

“We’re calling for a virtual return to school and that when we do ultimately go back we go back with 14 days of no new cases,” Foust said.

Foust sent a list of 33 questions to the school district three weeks ago but says she never heard back.

“What if a kid says ‘I’m not going to wear my mask miss’…what recourse do we have with that? Now they’re putting other students in danger. Again, just a lot of unanswered questions of how will these things be dealt with.”

8 on your side called the district to get answers. The district said some questions are answered in the 37-page draft plan but those that aren’t will likely be addressed at Tuesday’s meeting.

Meanwhile, Foust is helping organize a rally outside the meeting, but is worried about losing her job.

“I’m very nervous, very nervous, I wonder if I might be pulled into an office,” she said.

Teachers said they’ll begin setting up their rally at 9 am at the Pinellas County School Headquarters. School District leaders assured WFLA no teachers will be penalized for freedom of speech.

The school board meeting starts Tuesday at 9:30 am. Stay with 8 On Your Side for the latest on-air and stream it live through the WFLA website or on our app. The school district said you can also stream the meeting live Tuesday at 9:30 am by clicking here or here.

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