July 9, 2020Press Release
LOS ANGELES — Amid COVID-19 infections and deaths surging to record highs, Trump’s threats to open schools prematurely, and a groundbreaking research paper that outlines necessary conditions for safely reopening schools, the UTLA Board of Directors and Bargaining Team are calling on LAUSD to keep school campuses closed when the semester begins on Aug. 18.
“It is time to take a stand against Trump’s dangerous, anti-science agenda that puts the lives of our members, our students, and our families at risk,” said UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz. “We all want to physically open schools and be back with our students, but lives hang in the balance. Safety has to be the priority. We need to get this right for our communities.”
UTLA is also engaging all members in a poll on Friday, July 10, to find out where they stand on re-opening campuses. UTLA will notify members and the media the results of the poll Friday night.
The research paper, Same Storm but Different Boats: The Safe and Equitable Conditions for Starting LAUSD in 2020-21, looks at the science behind the specific conditions that must be met in the second-largest school district in the nation before staff and students can safely return.
Even before the spike in infections and Trump's reckless talk, there were serious issues with starting the year on school campuses. The state and federal governments have not provided the additional resources or funds needed for increased health and safety measures and there is not enough time for the district to put together the detailed, rigorous plans for a safe return to campus.
According to UTLA’s research paper, there is a jarringly disparate rate of COVID-19 infection, severe illness, and death among Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) working communities, where structural racism and economic inequality mean people live with economic and social factors that increase risk of illness and death. In these communities, people are more likely to have “essential” jobs, insufficient health care, higher levels of pre-existing health conditions, and live in crowded housing. Because of the forces of structural racism, Blacks, Latinx, and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County are dying of COVID-19 at twice the rate of white residents.