MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Teachers and parents in Minneapolis say they’re concerned about the health risks of returning students to the in-person learning as COVID-19 continues to spread and the vaccination rollout has been slower than expected.

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and Education Support Professionals held a virtual news conference Thursday morning concerning the planned return of students to classrooms next month. Union members say the district’s plan for returning students is both unsafe and unworkable for many educators and families.

“They need to include all of us in this process and move forward carefully, because this is literally a life and death situation,” said Briana Mercury, an ICU nurse and a mother of a student in the district, during the news conference. “We have so many people suffering so much right now, so why would Minneapolis Public Schools decide to make it worse?”

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Minneapolis Public Schools is planning a phased re-entry approach with pre-Kindergarten through grade five students resuming in-person learning in early February. Superintendent Ed Graff plans to recommend the phase-in begin on Feb. 8. That plan will go before the Board of Education next week.

WCCO-TV reached out to Minneapolis Public Schools for comment following the union’s news conference. The station did not hear back.