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Home > Featured > COVID-19: Teachers, unions say ‘no’ to returning back to school

COVID-19: Teachers, unions say ‘no’ to returning back to school

By ThisIsReno
North Valley High School

The Washoe Education Association today issued a lengthy letter to the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees and Superintendent Kristen McNeill.

The message: It’s too unsafe to return to schools.

“The overwhelming concern is safety,” WEA representatives wrote. “Employees do not feel safe nor do they feel confident in returning to the school sites. 

“There are too many questions and unknowns when it comes to ensuring a safe work environment, including concerns of spacing, upkeep of the physical distancing, transmittal of the virus (or virus carriers), questions of  what happens if a student decides NOT to follow the social distancing and mask wearing protocols, questions around the cleaning materials we will be expected to utilize, questions around the decision to depend solely on screening at home with no entry screening, and numerous other items which directly relate to the safety of the employees.”

WEA was joined by the principals’ association and educational support professionals.

They cited too many unknown safety variables needing to be addressed as to why they are opposed to current plans to reopen schools. 

“Without a detailed plan, families could be contacted on a random Wednesday night and told, ‘no school tomorrow, you need to figure out a different plan for your child.’ Parents need time to be  prepared for this,” the groups said. “Having the first nine weeks be distance learning will allow for families and employees to plan ahead.”

They said that going back either as part of a hybrid model or in person should not be considered “until it is safer to return.”

The groups cited national organizations, including the National Education Association and American Academy of Pediatrics, saying “science should drive decision-making on safely reopening schools. Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics.”

Teachers responding to the letter online overwhelmingly applauded the union’s letter to the school district.

Read more news about COVID-19 in Reno

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eileen ching July 20, 2020 - 10:01 pm

As Master’s of Social Work students from California State University, Long Beach we’ve adapted to change caused but the COVID-19 pandemic. Unbeknownst to us, our experiences as interns during this time allowed us to transcended our knowledge of social work ethics and apply it to the real world. There is no “real” way of learning how to be a social worker other than “diving right in.” Our experiences as a first-year intern has afforded us the opportunity to embark on this journey of developing a professional career as a social worker and as a student.

We’ve seen first hand, that students across our nation from grade school to high-school, are unable to communicate their thoughts and feelings and learn to adjust to this crisis that has affected every part of their lives. Not only did we realize that we struggle to adapt to changes within our personal and professional roles, we understood the challenges that this pandemic has caused on the vulnerable population as well and the ongoing need for advocacy of resources.

The growing concern that our nation faces is the uncertainty of the upcoming school year for the children and the possibility of exposing them to COVID-19. Officials in California’s two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, announced on Monday that students will stick to online learning from home when school resumes next month, rather than return to classrooms. The districts cited research about school safety experiences from around the world, along with state and local health guidance. “One fact is clear: Those countries that have managed to safely reopen schools have done so with declining infection rates and on-demand testing available. California has neither,” the districts said in a joint statement. Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the U.S., has about 730,000 students and San Diego serves about 135,000 students. Shortly after the districts made their announcement, California Govenor Gavin Newsom expanded closure of bars and indoor dining statewide and ordered gyms, churches and hair salons closed in most places. This is the new reality of our lives unless everyone abides by the stay at home orders and the need to social distance.

By: Maxine Benitez, Lauren Chagoya, Eileen Ching, Velma Raza-Acuna, Lauren Varela

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