Students, teachers and parents rally to protest Legislative Assembly measures limiting public health measures

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“I have never been so scared to go to school as I have been in the past few months,” said student Carly Mcaleer.

(Rachel Rydalch | The Salt Lake Tribune) Participants in the Concerned Coalition rally bring posters and signs to rally on the south steps of the Salt Lake City Capitol on Saturday, January 29, 2022.

More than 100 people gathered at the seat of political power in Utah on Saturday to protest what they see as the intrusion of politics into public health issues.

Sitting on the south steps of the State Capitol, the crowd listened to speakers reiterate the dangers of the coronavirus and decried recent moves by the Legislature to overturn mask mandates and enact legislation that requires a long series of approvals before schools can go remote during the pandemic.

“The state’s mask ban is not a policy aimed at the welfare of students and teachers,” said Noam Levinsky, a student at Park City High School. “It’s a political move. If this were a policy for the well-being of students, it would recognize the fact that masks work to prevent [the spread of] COVID-19[FEMININESicelavisaitàaiderlebien-êtredesélèvescelarespecteraitlesécolesquidécidentquelesmasquessontlesmeilleurspourleurscommunautés»

Parmi les près de deux douzaines d’orateurs figuraient des travailleurs de la santé, des enseignants, de nombreux étudiants, des long-courriers COVID-19 et même un politicien.

“Nous ne sommes ni démocrates ni républicains”, a déclaré Chris Phillips, co-fondateur de l’Utah Concerned Coalition. « Nous ne sommes ni rouges ni bleus. Nous ne sommes pas le comté de Salt Lake, le comté d’Utah, le comté de Davis ou le comté de Washington ; nous sommes simplement des parents et des membres de la communauté de l’Utah qui se soucient de la santé et de la sécurité de nos enfants et de nos communautés.

Les organisateurs de la manifestation ont fourni des pancartes à remplir aux membres de la foule, leur permettant d’écrire qui ils étaient ou quelle communauté ils représentaient, suivis des mots “pour la santé publique”.

L’un lisait « Enseignant pour la santé publique », un autre « Anciens combattants pour la santé publique ». D’autres pancartes de manifestants indiquaient qu’ils étaient des médecins, des travailleurs de la chaîne d’approvisionnement, des étudiants et des parents.

Un homme a simplement écrit : « Humain ».

Deborah Gatrell, professeur d’études sociales à Hunter High School, a déclaré à la foule que son école avait traversé “un enfer d’un mois, pour toutes les mauvaises raisons”. Elle a qualifié les affirmations selon lesquelles les enfants ne sont pas affectés par le coronavirus de “d’une indicible cruauté envers mes élèves qui ont perdu des parents, des tantes et des oncles, des grands-parents, des amis et [who are] having to miss school to go to the funeral because of COVID. So don’t tell me it doesn’t affect children, because it does. It affects families. It affects our communities. And it rips out the hearts of people who suffer unnecessarily.

(Rachel Rydalch | The Salt Lake Tribune) A child is pictured sitting on the steps of the concerned coalition rally on Saturday, January 29, 2022. Attendees include many teachers, healthcare workers, parents and others concerned about Covid- 19 .

She and other teachers said they were facing unprecedented absenteeism rates and staffing shortages in their schools.

Phillips told the Salt Lake Tribune that he wants students to meet in person, as do state politicians, and thinks Utah, until recent months, has been a leader in the pandemic management to enable in-person learning.

“Utah did some really unique things – and not all school districts participated – but most school districts in Utah last year looked for ways to implement appropriate protections that would keep children to school safely while protecting vulnerable children there and vulnerable family members,” he said.

However, in recent months, he believes the legislature has turned to policies that are unsustainable. “Between Test to Stay and the cancellation of the mask order, I think we are taking short-sighted steps that are going to make it very difficult for us to continue to fight this in the future,” he said. declared.

The students themselves spoke last at the protest.

“I’ve never been so scared to go to school as I have been in the past few months,” said Carly Mcaleer, a student at Park City High School.

Matilda Clawson, a student at Bonneville Junior High School, ended her speech by saying, “I don’t understand why politicians make laws that…hurt people, but I understand that’s wrong, even though I’m only 11.”

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