Gov. Newsom and the California Legislature are currently negotiating various policy and budget issues that will impact the expansion of in-person instruction in our public schools. Many of the decisions made in the coming days could impact the ability of our schools to transition from distance learning or continue offering in-person instruction.
Now is the time to make your voice heard on behalf of our students. We have included the following talking points you can use while contacting your local legislators; please add your specific local context.
Establish clear and consistent public health standards for when and how schools must reopen.
- Given the evidence that schools in the Purple Tier can safely provide in-person instruction using rigorous mitigation strategies, there is no reason to postpone reopening until they reach Red, Orange or Yellow Tiers.
- We support the current state guidance finding it is safe for elementary grades to reopen, with appropriate mitigation strategies, when below the threshold of 25 cases per 100,000.
- We further support a statewide health metric that triggers school reopenings as community conditions allow for a safer local path to reopening.
Prioritize vaccinations; do not require them.
- School reopening should not be conditional on every school employee having access to a vaccine.
- Vaccinations should not become an additional barrier for school reopening, given the reality of challenges with the supply and distribution of vaccines.
Honor existing local agreements and safety plans.
- The state should allow LEAs currently providing in-person instruction to continue under their previously-approved safety plans, which include testing cadences, physical distancing protocols, ventilation improvements and daily symptom screening.
- Requiring these districts to recreate, bargain/re-bargain and implement more restrictive mitigation strategies could force these schools to revert to full distance learning.
Testing protocols, like all mitigation strategies, must be decided locally with the approval of local health officers.
- As under current law, a local testing plan should ultimately be decided by the Local Health Officer (LHO) and school district, supported by scientific evidence.
- COVID-19 testing plans previously approved by the LHO should not be disrupted.
- Ramping up testing to cover all staff and students will require an unrealistic amount of infrastructure, staffing, new billing operations, private and state lab capacity, testing contracts, collection and transportation of tests.
New bargaining requirements do not increase safety and do not reopen schools.
- No new statutory or public health requirements should either suggest or require additional collective bargaining.
- The unnecessary expansion of collective bargaining will stall reopenings, close schools that have been open and impede in-person instruction in the fall.
Thank you for lending your voice to our effort to safely reopen schools.
At this time, we ask that you contact your legislators and share your perspectives.