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Union County teachers push for change to reopening plans

Dozens of teachers and parents organized a drive-thru protest Monday, calling on Union County schools to have full remote learning until COVID-19 is under control.

MONROE, N.C. — Dozens of teachers and parents made their voices heard with a drive-thru protest over Union County Schools' reopening plan that will have students return to class on a rotating schedule. 

With just two weeks until the first day, pressure is rising for district leaders to adjust their plan to North Carolina's "Plan C" option, which is full remote learning for all students. The calls for Union County to make the switch are only getting louder after Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools made the move last week.

Dr. Andrew Houlihan, the superintendent of Union County Public Schools, said he pays attention to what's going on in surrounding districts but ultimately has to make decisions based on what's happening locally.

"This is not about one person. This is not about me. This is about saving lives,” a protest organizer chanted over a megaphone.

One teacher's car had a grim to-do list written on the side. She said she plans to update her life insurance policy and will before schools reopen. 

“We just want to see the numbers come down. We're all extremely anxious to get back in the classroom with our kids and there’s no better way to teach and learn than that and we know that, but we want it to be safe,” said Lisa O’Connor, a high school math teacher for UCPS.

RELATED: Parents struggle as schools reopen amid coronavirus surge

As of now, the schools are opening under plan B. Students will be split in to four groups and go for in person learning one day a week.

“We’re looking forward to hopefully getting to see as many kids as we can face to face,” Superintendent Houlihan said in an interview with WCNC Charlotte. 

Houlihand said full virtual learning is an option for families. So far, about 20% of families in UCPS have taken advantage of the all remote option. 

RELATED: Families face virtual learning concerns as CMS moves to fully remote learning

As for teachers, they want the percentage of positive coronavirus tests to be under 5% before kids go back to school. They hope the board of education will follow the lead of other major districts in the area with remote learning.

“Most of the big 10 in the state have already gone to remote learning,” said O’Connor.

Superintendent Houlihan says everything is subject to change based on the coronavirus trends.