Philly teachers present snarky Valentine's Day gifts outside Mayor Kenney's house

Jaclyn Lee Image
ByJaclyn Lee via WPVI logo
Saturday, February 13, 2021
EMBED <>More Videos

About 50 teachers in The Philadelphia School District protested Friday outside of Mayor Jim Kenney's house on Race and 3rd streets.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- About 50 teachers in The Philadelphia School District protested Friday outside of Mayor Jim Kenney's house on Race and 3rd streets.

They presented snarky Valentine's Day gifts and signs, asking for him to support safer school reopenings.

"He should support the teachers more," said Leslie Grace, an art teacher at George Nebinger School in Bella Vista. "So he needs to hear our voices and know that we are unified behind this fight. To not open schools until a safe plan is in place."

The CDC released federal guidelines for the first time that spell out how a school district can reopen based on conditions in their area. The plan has something called "layered mitigation tactics."

If an area has high transmission, which Philadelphia does, the CDC guidance says schools should:

  • universally wear masks, hand wash and social distance
  • Regularly test teachers, staff, and students once per week
  • K-12 schools should be in hybrid learning mode with six feet physical distancing
  • Sports and extracurricular activities are virtual only

"I think the keyword there is 'if there are these proper systems in place.' And you know we already have gotten the data from our school buildings that many of them, the ventilation systems, are not up to par," said Paul Prescott, social studies teacher at Kensington Health Sciences Academy.

Teachers stated the district is not following these guidelines because the ventilation fans are not acceptable.

"We are not trusting our ventilation systems. They're failing, and they're not in good condition," said Cristina Gutierrez, a teacher at Lewis Elkin Elementary.

While the mayor did not come down to meet with the teachers, a spokesperson for the city said:

"As Mayor Kenney has said on numerous occasions, he always supports the rights of individuals to peacefully protest. With regards to the reopening of schools, Mayor Kenney and representatives from his administration have been actively involved in ongoing discussions between the School District and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers as they continue the mediation process outlined to address the concerns teachers have raised. The mediation is still ongoing. Mayor Kenney and his administration remain focused on getting kids back into schools as soon as possible."

A spokesperson for the Philadelphia School District said they did not have a comment on the protest in front of Kenney's residence.