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SACRAMENTO, CA, August 4, 2020 – CFT President Jeff Freitas responded to yesterday’s state guidance on elementary school re-opening waivers with the following statement: 

“The California Federation of Teachers believes state waivers to re-open schools are a major mistake, especially at a time when California continues to break records on the number of new COVID-19 cases and COVID-19-related deaths. Rushing into re-opening schools is simply reckless. Decisions about re-opening schools must be guided by a singular goal of keeping our students, our families, and our communities safe. Unfortunately, the state’s recent guidance and waiver allowances fall short. What’s more, they risk exacerbating the very inequities that have become more evident in the COVID crisis by giving preferential treatment to wealthier schools, without addressing the needs of students who need additional support with technology and access to distance learning.

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“Let’s be clear: everyone – students, teachers, classified staff, and parents – wants to return to in-person instruction, but also everyone is afraid of the dangers of returning. The California Federation of Teachers maintains that in order to re-open safely, five criteria must be met: there must be a significant decline in new cases of the virus both statewide and in the county where a school is located, the state must be able to provide regular, accessible testing and tracing to prevent further spread, schools must have adequate personal protective equipment and strong social distancing standards, schools must work collaboratively with employees and the community as they develop plans for returning to in-person instruction, and both the federal and state governments must fund our schools at a level that provides for a safe re-opening.

“The communities where our students live and their families work need a significant investment of resources in their health care, in support to prevent them, to put food on their tables, and to keep them safe. California must not compound the dire situation we are in by prematurely opening schools for in-person instruction. Let’s get this right, and provide remote learning until schools can be a safe place for everyone.”

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.