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Omaha-area teachers rally for mask mandate at Memorial Park

Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 4:22 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha-area educators are being vocal about their desire for a mask mandate in the Metro, saying their classrooms will be safer if one is in place.

Monday afternoon, a group of educators rallied together at Memorial Park to bring more attention to their demands.

They were masked up, socially distant, and many spent the afternoon making signs they held during the rally.

Some signs were directed at Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, who has said he won’t enact a statewide mask mandate. Others were directed at city councilmembers.

The group of educators says they would like to see a mask mandate ideally for both Douglas and Sarpy Counties since many people go back and forth between the two.

6 News spoke to one of the teachers Monday who says because a mandate won’t come from the state level, educators are turning to local leaders and asking them to take action.

They believe a local mask ordinance will help drive down the rate of COVID-19 in the community and, in turn, make it safer for both teachers and students to return to school.

They say going back into the classrooms without an ordinance is not putting anyone in a safe or healthy environment.

“The way that we’re headed back to school now is scary for a lot of people, it’s too many people in too small of a space, not all districts are requiring masks when students return,” said teacher Katrina Jacobberger.

Elementary school teacher Olajide Cooper says she feels like she’s in a tough position heading into the new year.

“I don’t want to be in an environment that’s not going to be safe for myself and others but I know the importance of in person education. I know that it’s important..so I’m trying to find that happy medium. I’m trying to empathize with local leaders cuz I know that’s hard.”

Some of the teachers plan to share their concerns with school boards, county boards, and the city council.

As reported last night, there are three Omaha city councilmen co-sponsoring a proposal for a mask ordinance in Omaha - this, after the county’s health director decided not to pursue one, citing possible legal challenges.

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