Seven of eight counties across Connecticut are reporting COVID-19 cases at levels that state guidance says should require hybrid or remote learning, yet many schools continue with full-time in-person classes. Dozens of schools are quarantining hundreds of students and employees or closing with little notice.
for recent reporting on COVID-19-related school building closures.
“The dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases raises safety concerns for students,” said Connecticut Education Association (CEA) President Jeff Leake. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says schools are not the safest place during the pandemic, and in-person learning is a high-risk activity. The state must take steps now to strengthen safety or else move to all distance learning as we brace for this second wave of the virus.”
“We applaud those school officials who have worked in partnership with their employees and placed a high priority on health and safety,” said Jan Hochadel, AFT Connecticut’s president. “Too many have fallen short on both counts, so more must be done immediately. It just makes sense to proactively close buildings rather than have students endure constant disruptions and upheaval.”
for recent reporting on the impact of spiking cases on staffing levels.
“In-person, classroom learning is best for our students, but only when safe,” said Jody Barr, executive director of Council 4 AFSCME. “The state’s COVID-19 numbers demonstrate it’s not safe. We need strict, statewide protocols, remote learning where that is not possible, and a commitment to keep all school staff on the job.”
While the governor has increased protections such as allowing only 50% capacity in venues such as restaurants, there are no similar protections for schools.
“Between infections and quarantines some of our schools are operating with half the normal staffing levels,” said CSEA/SEIU, Local 2001 Paraprofessional Council President Cynthia Ross-Zweig. “We’re all working hard to guarantee the safety and emotional well-being of students, but there’s only so much we can do when we are this short-staffed.”
to send the governor a message urging action to shield quarantined school staff from economic loss.
The “Safe and Successful Schools Now” report provides specific steps to strengthen and enforce protocols to keep our education communities safe:
- COVID-19 case notification;
- Increased reporting on state dashboard;
- COVID-19 notice to employees
- Teacher and staff input for contact tracing;
- Consistent statewide protocols in schools for
- reporting and public notification of positive COVID-19 cases;
- contact tracing and quarantines;
- social distancing;
- COVID-19 testing; and
- PPE availability;
- Going remote after holidays if standards not met;
- Reduce density or all remote learning for red zone districts;
- Adequate planning time;
- Dual teaching phased out;
- Continued payment and prohibition of layoffs;
- Moratorium on annual standardized testing;
- Cleaning plan and statewide protocols established;
- Maintained and posted school building cleaning logs; &
- Inadequate ventilation systems fixed.
Educators have a lot to contribute and these steps focus on what’s best for everyone. Despite the unprecedented challenges of this pandemic, educators and school staff work to ensure that students keep learning and stay engaged. They must be allowed to participate in any decision-making that impacts safety in the classroom for them, their students, and their families.
for our coalition’s previous public statement.
for a full, print version of this latest press release.