By Patrice Pilgrim, Chair of the Baltimore Community COVID-19 Taskforce
One of the things that I have learned, since being on ‘lockdown’, is that the ‘information highway’ is my friend. During this unprecedented time, I have learned to search out the information that I need, to answer many of the questions that I have had about how the United States government worked, and in particular the role and duties of the Mayor and City Council in Baltimore. One of the things that I love the most about American politics is the ability of the everyday citizen to make contact with their representative and, to a large extent, hold them accountable for the job that they promised to do if elected.
Over the course of the past few months, I learned that it was possible for me as a mother, a community member, and a teacher to reach out to my local representatives and have my concerns and the concerns of others be heard. Recently, the Baltimore Community COVID-19 Taskforce was able to secure a listening session with Mayor-Elect Brandon Scott. The session lasted for just about an hour and the Taskforce was able to share the concerns of teachers, PSRPs, parents, and other community stakeholders. Mayor-elect Scott was very keen on the listening session as he wanted to hear from the ‘people on the ground’. You don’t get any closer to that than the rank and file membership of the Taskforce.
Part of the reason why the Taskforce reached out to the Mayor-Elect’s office was the messaging being portrayed in the public eye about why teachers, PSRPs and other staff were hesitant in some cases, and downright scared in others, of going back to in-person teaching/learning before adequate safety precautions were put into place. The messaging being pushed by the District was that teachers didn’t care about their students and that teachers were making excuses – which couldn’t be further from the truth.
As a teacher, it is my greatest desire to get back into the classroom and resume teaching in person – make no mistake about that. What I do not want – and this is shared by many other teachers and school staff in the community, is to return to the school building without adequate safety measures being put into place, without guarantees from the District about the consistent providing of PPE and other cleaning resources, and without the guarantee of a detailed action plan that will ensure that if there is a confirmed or even suspected case of COVID-19, that every step necessary to maintain the health and safety of all staff is available and ready to be executed.
The Taskforce’s mission continues to be advocating for those who do not feel as if their voices are being heard. We continue to advocate for health and safety procedures to be implemented and executed with fidelity, for an adequate supply of PPE to be available for both staff and students at all school buildings, for the support of our city’s leaders in ensuring that every effort is made to keep every member of our community safe.
It continues to be a numbers game. The more people that the Taskforce has in its corner, the greater the push that we can make when it comes to standing up for our rights and the rights of those that support us. I ask that anyone reading this article take a moment and think about how you can get involved in the work that the Taskforce is doing. Getting involved does not look one specific way. It can look like any way that you feel comfortable getting involved. You don’t have to “join up” in order to help. Consider reaching out to the Taskforce at the email listed below or at any of our social media pages. We would appreciate the help and the unique feedback that you have to offer. Thank You!
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter: CommunityTaskforce19 / @CTaskforce19
Facebook: Baltimore Community Covid-19 Taskforce