UTLA Responds to Trump’s Threat to Prematurely Reopen Schools

Print this page.

With COVID cases surging to record highs, Trump’s threat to withhold federal funding if schools don’t physically reopen is dangerous and morally corrupt.  Trump is ignoring science and health experts to sacrifice the lives of educators, students and their families in the name of greed and self-interest. It is clear Trump is politicizing a public health crisis to prop up his flagging reelection bid and cater to the corporate elite.

Yesterday, LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned local education leaders that because of the ongoing surge of coronavirus cases, all schools must prepare for students to continue remote learning at home. Now is the time to make distance learning better for parents and students.

“Trump’s attempt to force schools to reopen in order to force people back to work during an accelerating pandemic means disproportionately risking the lives of Black and Brown students and their families, who are more likely to have ‘essential’ jobs, insufficient health care, higher levels of preexisting health conditions, and to live in crowded housing,” said UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz. “In LA County, this structural racism has resulted in Blacks, Latinxs, and Pacific Islanders dying of COVID-19 at twice the rate of white residents.” 

Educators know that restarting schools safely and equitably can only occur in a broader setting of community preparedness, requiring greater federal and state resources and with a strong emphasis on hygiene and responsiveness to the rapidly emerging epidemiology of this novel virus. We need broad community-based COVID-19 testing and contact tracing protocols and a significant lowering of new cases.

“Educators long to be back in our schools and classrooms. We know that distance learning creates real challenges, but science — not politics or the stock market — must determine when schools restart,” Myart-Cruz said. “We should be using this time to make distance learning better for all, including educators, parents and students.”