With horns blaring and cars bedecked with posters, about 20 vehicles drove through downtown Durango on Monday afternoon calling for schools to remain closed until no cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed for 14 days in the counties where school districts are located.
“We don’t want school personnel to be guinea pigs. There are stricter mandates to open restaurants right now than there are schools,” said Tracy Campbell, who organized Monday afternoon’s car parade.
Campbell, who spent 35 years in the educational system as a band director and a music and French teacher, estimated about 60 people participated in the car parade.
Using in-person learning and hybrid models to open schools cannot be done safely given the epidemiological situation with the virus, Campbell said.
“We haven’t flattened the curve,” she said.
Using all virtual and remote learning is the proper course to use when reopening schools, said Campbell, who runs the Flying Picards Studio of Music in Durango.
Hybrid models, in which some students spend some days in school and some days at home using remote and online learning tools, make no sense because it is impossible to maintain a semblance of social distancing in schools, Campbell said.
“I don’t know if you’ve been around middle-schoolers and teenagers – social distancing is not their forte,” she said.
The car parade Monday was part of a nationwide action called “Refuse to Return,” which aims to draw attention to the dangers of opening in-person learning in schools.
Campbell said she was one of the three original activists who founded “Refuse to Return” in early July, and now the movement has grown to 30 chapters across the country.
“Teachers want to go back, but we haven’t been asked for ideas on how to do it safely,” she said. “We want to be part of the solution.”
The country faces a crisis but hasn’t adequately addressed the seriousness of the situation, she said.
She suggested the Federal Emergency Management Agency be used to set up tests in front of the nation’s schools to test everyone entering for symptoms of COVID-19.
Refuse to Return plans another nationwide protest Aug. 3, and in Durango, Campbell said she anticipated that would involve a socially distant protest in Buckley Park that would include mock graveyards, representations of safe outdoor classrooms and various pieces of protest art.