MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Union teachers in Minneapolis are calling on the district to make spending changes to improve safety and keep students in the classroom as COVID-19 has already forced many to stay home since the start of the school year.

In a press release Tuesday, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers that said educators and families will picket Thursday afternoon outside Justice Page Middle School in an effort to get a more effective response from the district to the challenges facing teachers amid the Delta variant surge.

Greta Callahan, the president of the union’s teacher chapter, said that the federal American Rescue Plan is providing the district with nearly $160 million, which she believes is more than enough for the district to provide safe and efficient schools for all students. Yet, she says Superintendent Ed Graff’s plan for the money will put it in the wrong places.

“Superintendent Graff is refusing to spend the ARP money on the priorities that will keep our students safe and in the classrooms,” Callahan said, in a statement. “Minneapolis teachers want our students learning in person for the whole year, but if the superintendent follows through on his plan for the ARP money our district could be back in distance learning before you know it.”

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During Thursday’s demonstration, educators plan to call for money to go toward a number of priorities, including reduced class sizes, hiring more substitute teachers and bus drivers, N95 face masks for educators, accelerated hiring and training of support professionals, and for some educators to be allowed to work remote to help students in quarantine.

Since the start of the school year, state health officials have been tracking a spike in COVID-19 cases since students returned to in-person learning. Hundreds of cases a week have forced many districts to make changes, with each district forming a unique response.

In Minneapolis Public Schools, Thomas Edison High School is temporarily operating in distance learning after there was “significant exposure” to a student who tested positive for the virus.