Dear Honorable VUSD Board Members,
We write on behalf of the Vacaville Teachers Association, CTA/NEA, and Service Employees International Union Local 1021 to express our utmost concern for the health and safety of Vacaville Unified students and employees. We are extremely concerned about any consideration to reopen schools that could be premature or contrary to the recommendations of public health officials. And we are concerned that adequate safety precautions will be taken once we do begin returning to school.
The number of new COVID-19 cases has slowed, but not stopped. While the curve is flattening, there is still significant risk of contracting this highly contagious virus. Research has shown that although there is evidence that younger individuals may be less susceptible to contracting COVID-19, our students are not immune. Even with the implementation of safety precautions, there would be countless daily opportunities of social interaction that would allow transmission of this virus. There is absolutely no reason to risk our students, staff, or members of the community to possible exposure.
The health, safety, and well-being of our educators, students, and communities must remain the number one priority when reopening the schools. Many staff members will be at heightened risk due to their age or compromised immune systems. Reopening schools prematurely will force these educators to choose between their own personal safety and their desire to return to work to support their students.
We acknowledge the school closures have been hard on our students, educators, families, and communities and we would not want to put anybody at further risk. There are many things to consider prior to the planned reopening of our schools. When students and staff physically return to schools, it needs to be well thought out and the safety of the students and staff should be a top priority. Public health must be at the forefront of all decision-making. Further, educators and school employees must be part of conversations regarding how and when schools reopen. Together we can ensure the needs of our students are met so they are safe and ready to learn. Safety supports for students and educators must be in place, such as:
o Deep and regular cleaning of campuses and buses.
o Physical distancing in classrooms and other shared spaces.
o Protective equipment such as face coverings, gloves, and hand sanitizers.
o Special considerations to protect students and staff who are vulnerable or have underlying medical conditions.
o School health services for enhanced student, family, and educator safety.
o Mental health counseling and support for those suffering from the impact of the pandemic.
As educators and support professionals, we are proud of the tremendous work we have all done during the crisis to continue to support and promote student learning. We are eagerly awaiting the day we can welcome our students back into the classroom and continue the important work of supporting their academic and social-emotional growth and development.
We urge you to follow all public health recommendations and resist reopening our schools before it would be completely safe to do so. And when we do open, the safety of students and staff must be a top priority. We look forward to continuing our conversations with VUSD administrators and board members so we can work together to support and protect our community, our students, and our staff.
Thank you for your commitment to the health and safety of Vacaville employees and students.
|Todd Blanset||Anthony Maninetta||G Anthony Phillips|
|VTA President||SEIU 1021 President||Napa Solano Central Labor Council President|