AUSTIN (KXAN) — Teachers and school employees gathered in downtown Austin Saturday to protest Governor Abbott and the Texas Education Agency’s plan for reopening schools in the fall.
At 11 a.m. a caravan rally made its way around the State Capitol. At the end, protesters held a socially distanced sit-in on the Capitol lawn.
Members from the “Texas for Safe School Opening and Texas Teacher Safety Initiative” organized the event, which is expected to draw in hundreds of protesters.
The rally comes after teachers and unions from a number of school districts have expressed concerns about returning to school as COVID-19 deaths and case numbers continue to rise in Texas.
The TEA announced earlier in the month that it would require all schools to offer fully in-person and fully-online class options to students and parents.
Originally, the agency allowed schools a three-week remote learning transition period, in which the first three weeks of school would only be offered online. On Friday, the TEA announced that the transition period was extended to four weeks and can be extended by an additional four weeks by vote of local school boards.
The protest’s event page on Facebook says Saturday’s rally is an effort to elevate the voices of more than 8,000 Texas teachers who have expressed support of efforts to delay in-person learning.
“We are giving names and faces to the word teacher. We are people with needs and concerns. We are desperate to return to school, but it must be safe for our children, our families, our educators, and all school personnel in Texas,” the event page reads.
Organizers are also encouraging teachers to participate in a digital rally, posting to social media and contacting local and state representatives.