Former Montgomery, Alabama teacher testifies about the forced reopening of schools in 2020-21

In the three months spanning November 2020 and January 2021, eight educators in Montgomery, Alabama, needlessly lost their lives from COVID-19 after schools were forced open during the pandemic.

In this interview for the Global Workers’ Inquest into the COVID-19 Pandemic, former Montgomery teacher Tynisa Williams describes the struggle she and her colleagues waged against the reckless school reopenings, including organizing numerous district-wide protests and sickouts. The struggle reached a turning point when four educators died over three days, triggering a sickout that made the district temporarily switch to remote learning.

Tynisa discusses the role of the local union, the Alabama Education Association, which refused to fight to protect teachers’ lives; the teachers’ decision to form the Alabama Educators Rank-and-File Safety Committee; and the broader political-financial interests that underlay the campaign to reopen schools during the pandemic.