|Good Evening and Happy Friday!
I hope this email finds you and your family well. I want to share some new resources to help you as you work with your local districts and in your local communities determining the best way to return to schools safely. While there are many protocols that need to be in place and many resources to implement effective safety measures, testing is proving to be one of the toughest to nail down.
According to an article on schools and testing in The New England Journal of Medicine: “Because an estimated 40% of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic and 50% of transmissions occur from asymptomatic persons, we believe that screening testing is critical.” (Yasmin Rafiei, B.Sc., and Michelle M. Mello, J.D., Ph.D.)
In a Sept. 16, 2020 letter to Governor Newsom and other lawmakers, CTA pushed for a state solution to COVID-19 testing:
“A state solution is needed for this statewide problem. It is unrealistic to expect over a thousand school districts or even 58 counties to take on [testing] individually. Educators and their districts don’t have the training, resources, or funding to do this work. State guidance is not enough. Relying on individual school districts and local health officials (who have been retiring or resigning at a record pace) to coordinate what should be a statewide effort is woefully ineffective and leads to localized and politicized decision making that is damaging our public health, our public education, and our economy.”
Without statewide guidance and a plan, districts are left to develop their own. That should NOT be happening without input from the local union. As you are having these conversations, we will be meeting with Cal/OSHA and key lawmakers making the strong case for a statewide plan. We will also be promoting the need for school-based testing by sharing this infographic to show the daily reach public schools have in our state. Feel free to share this with local members, parents and school officials. If you’d like to customize a version for your chapter, use this version.
In addition to this infographic, we’ve put together a factsheet on COVID-19 Testing for you to reference. And a recent poll CTA conducted of parents and voters is available for you to use to support your work with your district. Below you’ll see testing is included in what is “essential” for reopening schools.
I would also like to point out that we’ve pushed back against using Prop. 98 funding for COVID-19 safety expenses. However testing for COVID- 19 is ultimately funded, it’s clear the state will need more resources. Another reason to vote Yes on Prop. 15!
Thank you so much for making the health and safety of our students, members, their families and our entire state your priority. We will get through this together!
E. Toby Boyd