Educators Concerned by Unchecked COVID-19 Surge, Unprecedented Infection Rates, Hospitalizations, Deaths, and Inadequate Tracking Measures to Ensure Safety Standards in Place; Seek to Work with Lawmakers on a Safe Return to Classrooms
Contact Claudia Briggs at (916) 296-4087 or email@example.com
- Let us be clear, no one more than educators want to be back in our classrooms with our students, where we know they learn best! Safety should be a standard. A common standard. A state standard that is uniformly known and enforced.
- There were 52,281 newly recorded confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and a record 379 deaths in California, 3,611 deaths nationwide. California’s daily new case rate is currently almost 64 new cases per day per 100,000 people – nearly double last week’s rate. The state’s test positivity rate also climbed to a record-breaking 11.5%, with California’s most vulnerable and hardest hit communities seeing rates as high as 24% per the state’s Health Equity Metric.
- Amidst these darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, educators share grave concerns about the prospect of students, educators and school employees returning to classrooms without the necessary safety standards, protocols and enforcement in place.
- Educators agree with Assembly Bill 10 proponents on the need to keep schools in the most restrictive, Purple Tier open for distance learning, particularly as many California counties far exceed the minimum benchmark for the Purple Tier and are at double, triple or quadruple Purple Tier rates in the current surge.
SACRAMENTO—Amidst the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, educators concerned by the unchecked COVID-19 surge, the devastating and record-breaking number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths – as well as inadequate statewide tracking and enforcement measures to ensure uniform safety standards are in place – seek to work with lawmakers for safe in-person return to classrooms.
CTA’s Executive Officers reiterated that in this letter to legislative leaders echoing the massive chorus of educators, parents and students throughout the state who continuously express fear and concern over the myriad challenges faced by all. There were 52,281 newly recorded confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and a record 379 related deaths in California and 3,611 COVID-related deaths nationwide. California’s daily new case rate is currently almost 64 new cases per day per 100,000 people – nearly double last week’s rate. The state’s test positivity rate also climbed to a record breaking 11%, with California’s most vulnerable and hardest hit communities seeing rates as high as 24% per the state’s Health Equity Metric.
Educators agree with the authors of Assembly Bill 10 on the need to keep schools in the most restrictive, Purple Tier open for distance learning and closed for in-person instruction, particularly as many California counties far exceed the minimum benchmark for the Purple Tier and are at double, triple and even quadruple purple rates in the current surge. CTA also supports requiring each school district to develop a comprehensive and transparent plan for reopening local schools.
“The legislators are absolutely right in looking beyond the Purple Tier before pivoting back to in-person teaching and learning,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “We appreciate that legislators are focusing their attention on how to make schools safe for students, families and educators. There’s no one more eager than educators to be in classrooms with all students where we know they learn best. It’s important that the state ensures our schools and colleges are safe for students, educators and their families, and provides the necessary supports to make that happen. We are eager to work together to make this happen in an equitable and prudent manner.”
CTA’s concerns around AB 10 center on setting an arbitrary date for reopening all schools without local community input and equity. CTA is equally concerned about the students who are most impacted by the pivot to distance learning when they rely heavily on support and resources provided while in classrooms and on campuses.
“California’s schools are the heart of their communities. For many of our most vulnerable and underserved populations, they are lifelines. The educational, social and emotional needs of California’s students, particularly those who often lack the technological and additional educational support to sustain distance learning, are of paramount concern to our 310,000 educators,” said Boyd. “We know the victims of COVID-19 are not random. They are overwhelmingly essential workers, poor people and people of color. In Los Angeles, relative to their share of the population, Latinos and African Americans are contracting and dying from the virus at nearly twice the rate as Caucasians, while residents of high poverty areas are dying at nearly double the rate of wealthier residents.”
In that same vein, this raises serious equity concerns, as many non-white families are not ready to send their children back to classrooms due to the harsh and disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. A recent national poll showed 82% of Black families, 81% of Asian families and 75% of Latino families supported prohibiting K-12 schools from teaching in person, compared to 64% of white families.
“The state must empower parents to make informed decisions by providing them data and community transmission rates as well as other important information including safety plans, transmission rates and testing plans,” said Boyd. “The state needs a comprehensive system for COVID-19 data collection in schools. This must be publicly available so that parents and education employees have the confidence to resume in-person instruction.”
For more information on CTA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, guidance and resources, go to www.cta.org/covid19.
The 310,000-member California Teachers Association is affiliated with the 3 million-member National Education Association.