CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - It was one board of education meeting, surrounded by three separate protests.
Dozens of people wanted their voices heard Monday night in Cabarrus County. The loudest were parents and teachers worried about bringing kids back to school with COVID-19 still out there, and vaccines not plentiful.
“We plan for emergencies, and we plan for safety. It seems like the board is planning on teachers to get sick,” Meredith Newman said.
Newman is a second-grade teacher in Cabarrus County, and says this group of parents and educators have some demands.
“We must have teachers and all school staff vaccinated or have the opportunity to be vaccinated before we fully open to plan A.” Newman said.
As the county crawls its way to reopening the schools in the middle of a pandemic, many who gathered outside the Cabarrus School Board building want to make sure it’s done in the safely.
Kimberly Biondi, a school teacher in the district, understands the frustration.
“We completely understand parents desire to get their kids back in school. We desire the same thing, all we ask is a safe return,” Biondi said.
The schools in the county aren’t closed – but they are on a hybrid system. With the younger kids headed back to class beginning next week, there’s a heightened sense of things.
“If we could just stay in plan B for a while until things come down further and we get more teachers vaccinated I think it’ll be a much safer situation.” said Susan Foulks an area teacher.
Medical workers did have some good news as they addressed the board, they felt with safety measures in place it was okay to bring kids back to the classrooms.
“It’s just encouraging for me that we’re making the right decisions.” said school board member Laura Blackwell.
But two other protests being held outside at the same time certainly filled the plate of those on the dais inside.
“We have put down roots in our community and they’re trying to take our kids out of it,” Catherine Parrish said.
This group of about two dozen concerned parents are worried about the board’s plan of realignment could force kids out of neighborhood schools and put them in classrooms miles from home.
Just feet away, a different group was concerned about how they felt personal politics were being taught in the classroom.
“It is their job to teach them how to think not what to think and that’s kinda why we’re here.” said school parent Michael Paul.