California Educators Recommend Closing All Public Schools and Community Colleges; Urge State Leaders to Support Students and Families with Challenges of COVID-19 Pandemic

Sacramento, CA — With the health and safety of our students, educators and all our families as our top priority, the California Teachers Association recommends closing all public schools in California to support the containment of the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). CTA also urges state leaders to support school districts, families and communities with the challenges posed by COVID-19.

“The health and safety of our students, educators and all their families are our top priority as we grapple with this rapidly changing situation and the spread of COVID-19. We know these are not easy decisions and there are many ramifications. To protect students and educators, we believe closing all public schools and community colleges would be one of the safest measures to help mitigate further spreading of the virus right now,” said E. Toby Boyd, president of the California Teachers Association.

Along with other state education organizations, CTA is specifically asking state leaders to: hold districts harmless from any financial penalties for loss of instructional days; provide support to allow meal service to continue to students during the closures, suspend all state testing this year; provide support for custodial services and staff; and provide additional support for school nurses and counselors. Read this letter from the Education Coalition for more details.

CTA also supports measures to help workers and families as we deal with the crisis in our communities, including additional sick leave days and paid time off for those who do not sick leave days; unemployment waivers and paid family leave for COVID-19 illnesses; eliminating economic barriers for COVID-19 testing; and internet access for students while at home.

“Sadly, in many ways, this pandemic is showcasing some of the challenges we face in our schools every day. The lack of adequate nurses and counselors to assist our students is a constant struggle. We know many districts right now are struggling with having adequate cleaning supplies. And when schools do close, we must also have plans to support students, educators and families throughout that process,” said Boyd. “We appreciate the Governor’s leadership and quick action at this critical time when Californians need it most. The magnitude and severity of the pandemic is already impacting everyone, while the long-term impacts are really unknown.”

CTA supports the recent waiver the California Department of Education received to continue feeding students during school closures and the Governor’s actions to waive the one week waiting period for unemployment insurance and state disability insurance. CTA and National Education Association also support the COVID relief package proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that includes funds for emergency paid sick leave, free coronavirus testing, and food assistance for seniors and vulnerable children and families.

CTA is providing multiple resources for educators, students and families at CTA urges educators, students and their families to follow the sound guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health and believes state and local officials should coordinate with school districts and county offices of education to ensure uniform messages are provided to students, families, and staff.

“It is our collective responsibility to do our part to minimize the spread of this disease. Each one of our actions, whether proactive or careless, will affect those around us especially the elderly and those among us with underlying health conditions. Please take the necessary steps to become familiar with the preventative measures such as effective health and safety practices. We owe it to each other,” concluded Boyd.

The 310,000-member California Teachers Association is affiliated with the 3-million-member National Education Association.