MONTGOMERYVILLE, Pa. (CBS) — Several dozen parents in Montgomery County who want their children to return to the classroom held a rally outside of the Pennsylvania State Education Association Regional Office in Montgomeryville on Saturday afternoon.
The parents gathered to fight for the return to in-school instruction.READ MORE: Officials Concerned Iconic Steeple At St. Leo's Could Collapse After 2-Alarm Fire Tears Through Tacony Church
Organizers with the rally say they believe the teachers’ union is “strong-arming” teachers and influencing school boards to keep schools closed.
Mom Heather Seibel says virtual learning does not meet the needs of her blind and disabled son, who also receives physical, occupational, and speech therapy at schools.
“It’s not a safe or appropriate environment for him and I’m fighting here to keep our kids in school, where they belong,” Seibel said.
“The teachers that have come to us in secret have said that they feel absolutely they can safely return to their classroom and that they can do that even without a vaccination,” organizer Kaitlin Derstine Souderton said.
The parents also cite increasing data from the CDC and CHOP’s Policy Lab that suggests schools can safely reopen.
Spokesman Chris Lilienthal released a statement to CBS3 on behalf of PSEA:
“PSEA fully supports the rights of parents and community members to exercise their First Amendment rights and advocate for what they believe.
But we find it quite troubling that the leaders of Pennsylvanians for In-Person Instruction (PIPE) and Keeping Kids in School PAC insist on spreading misinformation about the hardworking educators and support professionals who belong to PSEA and serve as leaders.READ MORE: Franklin Institute Hosting One-Day COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic For People With Disabilities
Throughout the pandemic, PSEA has advocated for school districts to follow the state’s health and safety guidelines crafted with the input of public health experts. At the local level, our members have spoken up in support of educators and support professionals having a seat at the table where key decisions are made about how school districts will conduct in-person instruction.
Teachers, nurses, counselors, and support staff work directly with students every day and have important insights into the issues that must be addressed to keep everyone safe at school during this pandemic. It’s unfortunate that the leaders of PIPE and Keeping Kids in School PAC have mischaracterized this important role our educators and support professionals play as somehow unacceptable.
CDC scientists have said very clearly that, in order to operate safely in person, schools must employ safety measures such as wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, increasing ventilation in classrooms, and using a hybrid learning model where necessary to avoid overcrowded classrooms.
For our part, PSEA will continue to advocate for these and other safety measures based on the input of public health experts and doctors.”
Pennsylvania is currently in Phase 1A of its COVID-19 vaccine plan. Education workers are eligible to receive the vaccine during Phase 1B.
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