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Wichita teachers expected to rally, voice concerns ahead of BOE meeting

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita educators are expected to gather for a silent rally outside of North High where the Wichita Board of Education will meet to decide whether or not the school will be in-person or online.

United Teachers of Wichita (UTW) wants to make an impression on board members as they walk into the building for the meeting.

“People just want to know,” said Kimberly Howard, president of United Teachers of Wichita. “They’re ready to set up rooms. They can’t get in that mindset until they know what’s going to happen.”

Four weeks, UTW has been voicing its concerns about the school year.

“If we don’t rally around now and tell them how we feel, they’re going to make a decision that may not be what everybody in the district wants,” said Gabe Padilla, algebra teacher.

Howard will speak at the board meeting, one last chance for educator’s voices to be heard.

“We are going to talk tonight during our UTW time during the board meeting about science, safety and choice,” said Howard.

That includes the latest studies and numbers, making sure everyone at school has proper PPE and cleaning supplies. Howard said she wants to touch on the importance of classroom sizes, too.

“[Board members] talked a lot about parents and childcare and things like that and we’re not babysitters, but that’s how we were made to feel,” said Howard.

Some said they want district officials to take everyone’s health into consideration.

“I know everybody wants to do what’s right by the kids, but we also have to think about our safety and our family’s safety,” said Padilla. “I live with my grandma in a multi-generational family household and I want to make sure everybody is safe in my household, as well.”

The Wichita Board of Education is expected to meet with doctors in a meeting at 5:00 p.m. and the special meeting will start at 6:00 p.m. The meetings are at the North High School Lecture Hall. They are not open to the public because of COVID-19 precautions, but will be streamed on the district’s website and on WPS-TV Cox channel 20.

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