By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service (CA)
July 14, 2020 (Sacramento) -- The California Federation of Teachers is urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to delay physical reopening of schools and direct districts to go to distance learning until COVID-19 infections drop and safeguards are in place.
On Monday, both Los Angeles and San Diego Unified School Districts announced they will offer distance learning until conditions improve. But other districts such as Marin County are planning to go back to in-person learning five days a week.
Novato Federation of Teachers president Mariah Fisher said that's a big mistake.
"The district has made it clear that every teacher needs to be ready to be in the classroom, health risks or not," Fisher said. "So we need to fight for classrooms that are safe enough for our most vulnerable teachers and students. And we're not there."
CFT sent a letter to the governor asking that campuses remain closed until the state and county see a reduction in new COVID-19 cases for 14 consecutive days. They also want the state to provide personal protective equipment, testing, contact tracing and isolation systems.
California Federation of Teachers president Jeff Freitas said the districts need rules, not just guidance, on proper social distancing, disinfection and ventilation.
"The state needs to step in and give direction, provide these resources, provide this testing, and set standards; not say this is what you should do, but do what you want," Freitas said.
The letter also calls for a significant increase in funding so that hybrid models of learning can be implemented once it is safe to do so.
(ECM update: President Donald Trump has called for all schools to reopen fully for in-classroom learning despite health risks and has threatened to withhold funding from districts that rely only on online/distance learning, as ECM previously reported. His announcement drew strong criticism from national organizations representing parents, teachers, principals, and pediatricians. This week, an Arizona teacher with diabetes and asthma died of COVID-19 and two other teachers at her school contracted the virus despite gloves, masks and social distancing while sharing a classroom to provide online instruction.)