Monday morning Zoom classrooms were a bit redder than usual in Orange County, as teachers in the public school system dressed to protest the district’s decision to bring teachers back to their classrooms.

While most students are learning at home until January, Orange County Schools brought its staff back on December 7 as a way for them to “plan and prepare in light of upcoming winter holidays as well as the potential for inclement weather,” according to a press release.

Aside from wearing red (a color associated with education advocacy), some teachers opted to continue teaching at home in defiance of county plans. The Orange County Association of Educators said on their Facebook page that this was in solidarity with teachers who must stay home for health concerns, “who will eventually have to leave our district if they are forced back into buildings.”

Orange County teachers were supposed to head back to their classrooms on November 16, but staff requested more time. Christina Clark, a member of the Orange County Association of Educators, says staff will need to talk with the human resources department if they wish to continue teaching from home.

Before Monday, less than 50 students and staff members were spread across the county’s 13 schools. Despite a relatively low number of people, the school system says there have still already been five confirmed cases of COVID-19.

While the teacher demonstration gained some support on social media, Clark says many of the teachers are back in their buildings today. School officials did not say whether those who participated would be reprimanded.

A December 4 update from Orange County revealed that almost 4,000 county residents had tested positive for COVID-19, and 62 people had died so far. The majority of cases occurred in residents under 50. While more people are reporting COVID-like symptoms to the county emergency services, the percent of positive cases out of everyone tested has decreased.

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