(The Center Square) – Madison school leaders are praising the local teachers’ union latest protest over returning to in-person classes.

Dozens of teachers at several Madison public schools taught their classes outside on Thursday to show their displeasure at being asked to teach in-person starting Monday.

Madison Metropolitan Schools said in a statement that Thursday’s ‘teach-out’ is a “thoughtful approach … to make staff voices heard in a way that does not disrupt the continuity of education for our students.”

The statement praised teachers for their “great work” and added: “We also recognize the importance of hearing their voices as we face these unprecedented challenges together.”

Madison schools are bringing kids in pre-K through second grade back for in-person classes beginning on Monday. It will be the first time Madison students will have in-person instruction in nearly a year.

There is no timeline for bringing kids in third grade through high school back. In fact, it’s unclear if they will return at all this year.

Madison East High School teacher Amanda Pustz, who will not see any students in-person, told the Milwaukee State Journal during Thursday’s teach-out that teachers don’t feel safe in returning to school.

“All of us here have concerns, we all want to go back but we all want to go back with guaranteed safety,” she told the paper. “One thing that would help would be vaccinations. [But] we’re weeks away.”

Wisconsin’s coronavirus numbers have dropped more than 80% since the state’s peak back in November. The state’s Department of Health Services reported on Thursday that as of the end of February, just 144 school-aged children in Wisconsin had coronavirus symptoms. That’s down from nearly 2,000 back in November.

DHS reports only two coronavirus-related deaths in school-aged children, and both of those students were teenagers.

While Wisconsin’s coronavirus numbers are falling, the state’s vaccine numbers are spiking.

DHS says more than 1.5 million vaccine doses have now been delivered, and more than a half-million people have been fully vaccinated. Both state and local health departments say they are focusing almost exclusively on vaccinating teachers this week.

Reposted from The Center Square with permission.

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