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‘I need solutions’: Hundreds rally outside Granite School District, asking for 'safer' re-opening plans

Posted at 8:35 PM, Aug 04, 2020

SOUTH SALT LAKE — More than 100 teachers and supporters gathered outside the Granite School District Tuesday afternoon demanding a safer re-opening plan.

“It’s just really important that we have options as teachers to keep both ourselves safe and our students safe,” said Amber Mortensen, a 2nd grade teacher within the Granite School District.

Mortensen has a heart condition and is fearful of what could happen.

“My cardiologist says I need to not be in the classroom. Those are my doctor's recommendations,” she said.

Plans haven’t been finalized as to which teachers will be online versus in-person, Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said. Elementary students have until Aug. 6 to make a selection, and once schools have a better idea of what students are doing, teachers will receive assignments. Teachers and their loved ones' health conditions will be taken into consideration, Horsley said.

“There is no perfect plan, and so we have really tried to be as flexible as possible in terms of meeting the needs of our community members and at the same time ensuring our employees have a safe working environment,” he said.

Teachers asked for a better plan to re-open Tuesday. For some, that meant a pushed back start date, for others more online options, smaller class sizes or even an A/B schedule like some other districts plan to implement.

Many teachers shared stories of fear for themselves, others shared fear for loved ones.

“My husband has severe asthma, has lung conditions, and I am so worried that I am going to end up getting him killed,” one Granite School District teacher said.

Her husband, also a teacher but at a private school, said he is terrified.

“Teaching is my dream job, but I never thought my dream job had the potential to kill me,” he said.

The Granite School District’s re-opening plan is not set in stone, Horsley said, and it will be modified as needed. At this time however, there is no planned time to discuss changes. Teachers will be provided PPE and other support to help make this as safe of a re-opening as possible, Horsley said. In response to the teacher rally, he said the district appreciates the messages from teachers.

“We have a long and healthy relationship with the Granite Education Association (GEA) as evidenced by the only settlement in Utah so far this year. We look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure that every employee can return to work this fall in the safest conditions possible,” he said.

For more information on the Granite School District’s re-opening plans, click here.

For more information on school safety in Utah, click here.

To read the state’s Covid-19 School Manual, click here.