March 19, 2021Statement
The CDC’s action is largely grounded in an overinterpretation of one study from one state. Basing a national change in guidelines on a single study is rash and doesn't account for the impact and spread of COVID-19 in urban and densely populated areas, like Los Angeles County.
Educators in Los Angeles are excited to be on a path to the physical return to school buildings in a way that puts safety first. Regrettably, some of the evidence the CDC used to make the abrupt guideline change of six feet of physical distance in schools to three feet is flawed. The report examined only policies and not actual distance, and only looked at the number of COVID-19 cases reported to the state — leaving out students and residents who were asymptomatic and not tested for COVID-19.
LA has been the pandemic epicenter, with Black, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, and poor communities suffering disproportionate illness and death rates. These communities are the communities where our students live, and this has driven UTLA's focus on health and safety.
"With the support of parents and the community, LA educators have negotiated one of the highest safety standards in the nation for the return to in-person instruction," UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said. "The agreement with the district will help protect students and educators and make families feel safer about returning their students to in-person learning. Under the health and safety protocols, students will return to classrooms with modernized ventilation, proper PPE, and a 6-foot social distancing policy, which has been the trusted standard since the pandemic began."
In our school communities that the virus has the hardest hit, the school district's surveys show that many families are reluctant to return their children to physical schools due to increased risk. Eroding safety requirements — by changing physical distance parameters— would only exacerbate this trend and impact our most vulnerable communities.
Throughout this pandemic, politicians and public health officials have prioritized reopening the economy over saving lives. UTLA educators will continue to put the health and safety of staff, students, and families first.