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'Teachers are being treated like dirt': Protest organizer explains motive behind rally at school

Socrates Academy moved all classes to remote learning Friday ahead of a parent-organized protest against the school's vaccine mandate for employees.

MATTHEWS, N.C. — A group of parents organized a protest outside Socrates Academy, a charter school in Matthews, Friday morning to rally against the school's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees. 

Jennifer Thompson, a parent at the school, organized the roadside demonstration, saying teachers at Socrates had been "treated like dirt" by the administration. 

"Not only are we not for a mandated vaccine but the teachers have been treated like dirt," Thompson said. "They are being forced to resign so they can't get any unemployment benefits."

Thompson also claimed that teachers who were leaving the school were forced to work a 30-day notice and required to train their replacements. She also said Socrates Academy rejected all vaccine exemption requests, regardless of the reason given.  

"You don't treat people like that," Thompson said. "These teachers, they worked through the pandemic. You don't just kick them out the door because they won't get a vaccine. I hope all teachers at Socrates feel loved and supported and know there are people out there fighting for them."

Socrates Academy administrators said the safety of students and staff members is the school's top priority and the reason behind canceling classes. The school's middle school dance, scheduled for Friday evening, will go on as planned.

"While our SA community may plan to keep this protest peaceful, we cannot ensure that those coming from the public will also be peaceful," the school's website says. "In addition, any protest during school hours will inevitably impact the school operations, including drop off and the actual instruction."

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Last month, the school announced that it would require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Friday is the deadline for employees to provide notice that they won't be in compliance with the mandate. 

A message on the school's website read in part:

"While our SA community may plan to keep this protest peaceful, we cannot ensure that those coming from the public will also be peaceful. In addition, any protest during school hours will inevitably impact the school operations, including drop off and the actual instruction. The safety of our scholars and staff is -- and always will be -- our top priority."

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