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SACRAMENTO, CA, January 11, 2021 – The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) today called for a four week halt to all in-person K-12 instruction in the state, saying the action is necessary to preserve life, and slow community virus spread. The call comes as California’s COVID-19 case rates reach unprecedented levels, ICU’s are at or near 0% capacity in most parts of the state, and ambulances wait hours to deliver patients to emergency rooms. To protect lives and move toward in-person instruction as soon as safety allows, the CFT Executive Council is also urging all school staff and educators to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it is made available.

“California’s educators and classified professionals have been eager to safely return to their schools for many months now. We did not sign up for our jobs with the intention of teaching through screens. However, we cannot put our own lives, the lives of our students, and our communities at risk during what is clearly an escalating crisis in our state,” said CFT President Jeff Freitas. 

The call from the CFT comes as California’s COVID-19 crisis only continues to worsen, with one in fifteen Californians having tested positive to date. It also comes on the heels of the LA County public health director’s call last week for a hard three week shutdown of all schools in the county. Illustrating the severity of the crisis, one in three students in some LA schools are testing positive. 

This call also comes as data raises concern over disparities faced by children of color who contract COVID-19. The CDC has found that the rate of hospitalization for Latino and Black children are eight times and five times higher, respectively, than for white children. These findings also reflected the racial and economic disparities in death rates in California.

In a meeting over the weekend, the CFT Executive Council called on all Californians, including its school workers, to take the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s made available to them. The resolution passed unanimously.

The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 teachers, faculty, and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. It is the statewide affiliate of the AFT. More information at www.cft.org.