Union leaders spoke at a press conference on the north steps of the State Capitol building before presenting the petitions to a senior advisor to Governor Ned Lamont.
“This petition represents an unfortunate last resort,” said Mary Yordon, who serves as president of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated Norwalk Federation of Teachers. “No one is pleased or satisfied in signing it. But it represents the feelings and interests of over 14,000 — and counting — teachers, school employees and parents; the governor and education department officials are turning a blind eye to the health of both students and staff,” Yordon, our state federation’s vice president for PreK-12 educators, added.
Union coalition leaders said the petitions reinforce the urgency of their months-long campaign for safe and healthy schools. They said the surging COVID-19 infection rate demands the establishment and enforcement of consistent statewide safety protocols, along with uniform transparency in reporting and responding to cases, for schools.
If that’s not possible, Connecticut must shift to full-time remote learning until after the holidays.
for current reporting on members’ efforts to generate petition signatures.
“We are here today because every district and local health department has approached re-opening buildings differently this year,” said Shellye Davis, co-president of our Hartford Federation of Paraeducators. “It’s troublesome that we do not have an equitable or transparent approach in keeping schools, students and staff safe,” added Davis, who also serves as AFT Connecticut’s vice president for paraprofessionals and school-related personnel (PSRPs).
The union coalition’s petition campaign follows the late November release of their report, “Safe and Successful Schools Now.” The recommendations include a call for a shift to all remote learning unless stronger protections are in place to keep our school communities safe.
for our coalition’s previous public statement announcing the report.
Many of the 14,000 people who signed the petition also provided commentary from the front-lines of public education during a pandemic:
“With the return to full time in person learning, the social distancing has been much more difficult to manage given the increase in numbers. Also, the schools are not being cleaned and sanitized as initially promised.”
“The disparity and lack of clarity around COVID response in school districts right now is completely unacceptable.”
“We have done a wonderful job keeping students in school through the Thanksgiving holiday, however as the numbers increase and towns are moving into the red zone, it is imperative that we take greater measures to keep students, staff, and our families safe.”
“We keep hearing about how safe the schools are yet we’ve had multiple COVID positive cases in the district and are seeing those cases increase every week. Furthermore, protocols for testing and quarantining have been unevenly applied and students are returning to school after a long weekend with large family gatherings, putting their classmates and teachers at risk. I do not feel safe in my building.”
for a full, print version of this latest press release.