Teachers in cities across Arizona are protesting the possible reopening of schools this fall, putting on red t-shirts they last wore in a 2018 strike and driving around in cars painted with slogans like “Remote learning won’t kill us but COVID can!”
Stacy Brosius, third-grade teacher, says she is doing it to save lives in a pandemic despite people calling her a “liberal socialist Nazi” and a “whiner and complainer” for leading car-based protests in hopes to push the in-person schooling.
Reviving the 2018 protests dubbed “Red for Ed”, the move comes after the COVID-19 pandemic claimed the life of a beloved educator while teaching summer school, as well as the surge of statewide hospitalizations and deaths.
“We don’t want any children to get this from us, because as a teacher, I don’t want to go to any of their funerals,” Brosius said.
Republican Governor Doug Ducey aims to reopen the schools across the state starting August 17, but teachers push to reopen on October at the earliest and increased funding for personal protective equipment.
“This is a core piece of what our educators come together for, which is to demand that schools are properly funded,” said Arizona Education Association president Joe Thomas.
“Until we can see that, we are not ready to come back to schools.”
Arizona is one of the many states to be hit hard by the virus this summer, as new cases grew from a 7-day average of 500 at the end of May to more than 3,000 in July, pushing the hospital’s intensive care capacity up to nearly 90 percent this week.
Teachers in other states such as North Carolina and Florida join the growing “Red for Ed” protests, utilizing social media and online petitions to share their concerns and lobby statehouses.
“I think that the schools are not prepared to open,” said Erin Rhodes. “Teachers teach because that’s what they want to do, that’s what they’re meant to do.”
“I don’t know any teacher who doesn’t want to go back. But this is about going back and sacrificing your health, or sacrificing a co-worker or your family and kids,” Rhodes added.