Photo Story: #OnlyWhenItsSafe

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A thunderstorm on Sept. 10 set the scene for the teacher-organized car caravan advocating for proper safety measures at elementary and middle schools. With elementary schools set to reopen in a split-hybrid model, and middle schools slated to follow soon after, educators, students and parents protested to secure independent heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) evaluations and surveillance testing.

Teachers demonstrated in the Newton Free Library parking lot before driving around City Hall honking their horns. Traffic was backed up on Homer Street.

A group of counter-protesters centered in the rotary behind City Hall voiced their opposition to all-remote learning and protested in favor of a split-hybrid model. After the protest, seniors Ben Baines, Nathan Gelman and Damian Matthews told The Lion’s Roar that they attended the counter-protest to fight for their right to return to school. They said they do not understand why the district is forcing all students to learn in a remote model when students provenly learn better in-person, in spite of pro-remote-learning arguments that a split-hybrid model would be inequitable.

Channel 7 News interviewed math teacher Chrysolite Fitzgerald, who supports teachers’ demands for independent HVAC evaluation and surveillance testing. During the interview, the counter-protesters stood behind Fitzgerald and attempted to disrupt the interview by chanting pro-hybrid phrases like ‘Kids and teachers belong in schools.’ Fitzgerald sat in her car for 10 minutes after the interview while counter-protesters marched around her with signs. She said her decision to stay in her car symbolized how she believes learning remotely and staying inside is safer than a split-hybrid model.