This is recap of some of the issues BTU has previously cited, sharing here so that you can include that in your comments to district officials, politicians, reporters, and so on. A great contact list and social media contact is available here
Public Health Measurement Guiding Reopening Decisions
Once vaccinated, we have thousands of teachers who would “willingly” consider returning to school buildings if able to wait the 14 days necessary for vaccines to take effect. Based on the initial response we’ve received, we believe there would be adequate grade level coverage for this to occur voluntarily.
City Schools teachers see what is being offered in other school districts, and in states like Ohio, Utah, and Arizona
, they want this opportunity for safety as well. Teachers see this as just weeks away, and the rush to open school buildings just before gaining this security is seen as cruel.
Accommodations for Vulnerable Family Members
One of the greatest fears teachers have is returning to in-person instruction, bringing the virus home, and making a high-risk family member sick.
New York City Schools provides accommodations for teachers
who have family members who are more at risk of serious COVID-19 infections, per CDC guidelines. (They were able to get this, but had to agree to return to buildings in large numbers in the fall, and some complain the accommodations process there isn’t as comprehensive for family considerations as it needs to be).
Without this option, City Schools will have several hundred teachers forced into paid or unpaid Family Medical Leave or another type of leave, who could otherwise continue working with their students virtually.
Considering that City Schools acknowledges that the vast majority of students will remain remote, not having this option will further cause disruption for where most students are – the virtual environment.
Tracking COVID-19 Cases in School Buildings
City Schools leadership regularly says that there has been only one transmission in City Schools (at a meal distribution site). However, City Schools employees do not trust the contact tracing methods being employed. After a staff member who has recently been in a school building and tested positive for COVID-19, they are contacted by City Schools’ Office of Human Capital. Following these measures, BTU has been contacted by teachers who are concerned that various close contact questions were not asked by the contact tracers. For reasons that are unknown to us, City Schools has rejected BTU’s request to see the close contact questions and protocols that City Schools is following. This has undermined trust in the transmission data presented by City Schools with teachers and staff.