CTA Says Teachers Are Not Ready to Return to Class
The California Teachers Association has weighed in on the new push to reopen America’s schools. In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and legislative leaders last week, the CTA expressed deep reservations about returning to campuses. It cited the current surge in infection rates and a persistent lack of resources including personal protective equipment for teachers, faculty, and students.
Safe school reopening will require the state to coordinate consistent public health department operations that offer a uniform symptoms checklist and safety protocols; data transparency and accessibility; increased testing dedicated to schools for students and staff; rapid case notification and contact tracing; isolation support and medical care for our most vulnerable students and families; and health monitoring of students to serve as early understandings of transmissions in schools and warnings of any school-based outbreaks. We also ask the state to direct the California Department of Public Health to coordinate with CalOSHA to develop and implement training for all school districts on safety protocols and to direct that Illness and Injury Prevention plans be updated and adopted prior to the first day of in-person instruction.
As educators, we too want to be back with our students doing the work that we love, but we cannot ignore science, facts, and safety. Absent a specific plan for each school that includes a clear line of responsibility and accountability we have two options:
1. A high-risk in-person opening, even under a hybrid model.
2. Start the new school year under robust distance learning protocols until the virus is contained in local communities and proper safety measures can be put into place.
It is clear that communities and school districts have not come close to meeting the threshold for a safe return to in-person learning, even under a hybrid model. In fact, with recent health orders issued in 26 counties impacting nearly 85 percent of Californians, we are going backwards. How can we reasonably expect hundreds of students, and in some cases more than 1,000 students, to come together on one campus for an entire day without putting their health and the lives of every adult on that campus at risk? Federal and state guidance regarding a phased reopening have focused on a sustained downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases for 14 days or no more than 1 COVID-19 case per 10,000 in the past 14 days. From a public health perspective, the best course of action would be to focus on improving our ability to provide robust, quality distance learning until the virus is marginalized and safety measures are addressed.
Read the full letter here.