Teachers wearing black, calling for increased COVID safety



HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Some unionized Connecticut educators wore black to work Wednesday to draw attention to their demands for more rapid test kits in schools and flexibility in allowing for short-term remote learning.

Others wore red to show their support for safe in-person learning.

The demonstration was organized by a coalition of education labor groups, who asserted that a majority of their members were unable to access testing or masks upon returning to school from the holiday break Jan. 3.

“I had schools that opened this week and still didn’t have masks, and that’s problematic,” Kate Dias, president of Connecticut Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, said in a statement.

Staff shortages have led to short term closures of schools in several districts, which prompted Gov. Ned Lamont to issue an executive order Tuesday, making it easier for retired teachers to come back into the classroom.

The order relaxes statutory salary and staffing restrictions the governor’s office said prevented some former educators from coming out of retirement.

“This executive order is a critical step to providing much-needed resources to ensure we keep students in the classroom and provide them with an in-person education,” Lamont said in the statement.

The state Department of Education said in a statement that it is working to ensure more test kits and masks are distributed to schools as soon as those supplies become available.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.



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