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Mesa educators to protest premature resumption of in-person learning

(Getty Images/Chung Sung-Jun)

PHOENIX — Mesa educators and their supporters are set to take to the streets to protest Arizona schools returning to in-person education prematurely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

At 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the Mesa Motor March will kick off in the parking lot of the Dobson Ranch Library on 2425 S. Dobson Road.

The goal of the motor march is advocacy for a safe, uniform plan by which Arizona schools can resume in-person learning, rather than the current district-by-district approach, Mesa Public Schools Special Educator Judy Robbins told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

Many metro Phoenix school districts are planning to resume the fall semester virtually on their originally scheduled start dates with options for students to participate in in-person learning beginning Aug. 17.

“Right now we have a jigsaw puzzle of school districts creating their own plans based on their community, but we want to make sure there is a systematic plan of when it is safe to get back into the classroom,” Robbins said.

Mesa Motor March participants want Arizona counties to be free of new coronavirus infections for a minimum of 14 consecutive days before school districts therein commence in-person education.

“We want to make sure that people are aware of how public school teachers and charter school teachers and allies … feel about the idea of returning to open school facilities,” Robbins said.

“We believe that the push to get us back into the classroom is going to be a catastrophe in the making.”

Once schools eventually return to in-person learning, the organizers are also calling for vigorous COVID-19 testing of staff and students in addition to contact tracing efforts, according to Robbins.

“We’d like to make sure that, as public school employees and parents, we’re not paying for this,” she added.

“This is something that our school districts need to support.”

A robust supply of personal protective equipment for schools’ staff and students is also among the priorities of the motor marchers.

“We all have to protect ourselves if we are going to control the spread of this virus,” she said.

Robbins said that other motor marches would be taking place in Gilbert, Peoria, Tucson and possibly central Phoenix at later dates.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

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