May 27, 2020News
Any state and county guidance is only a framework — every school district will develop its own plan. That is why reopening schools must be bargained with UTLA. And it’s why we are surveying our members on their priorities; working closely with parent, youth, and community organizations on their priorities; and then taking these priorities into that bargaining.
Educators want more than anything to be back in schools with our students, whom we love. But, we also understand deeply that the only way this can happen is if schools are healthy, safe, and improved. The status quo will not be enough to safeguard students and educators alike.
UTLA is fighting against proposed budget cuts and for increased funding essential to guarantee a safe return to schools. A healthy, safe reopening cannot happen amidst budget cuts. That is a fantasy. We are fighting the proposed $13 billion in budget cuts.
There is no vision for a safe reopening that does not involve additional resources for schools — resources to implement social distancing and other safety guidelines and funding for the additional supports our students need in the wake of this crisis, including increased mental health support.
We know that the health and safety of our communities depends on getting the reopening right. We can’t underestimate the challenge of opening schools in a way that protects students and staff and prevents children from becoming carriers for infection in their own families. This is especially critical in LA, with our students living with so many of the equity issues that coronavirus has laid bare: students in high-density living situations with multigenerational families; the disproportionate exposure and death rates among communities of color, especially Pacific Islander and Black communities; and a lack of accessibility to healthcare. We also know that, as various sectors reopen for business, parents and guardians will return to work and will not have the choice that others have to keep their children at home safely.
We are also clear that a reopening and improvement plan must extend to our communities. Our students are shaped by all aspects of their lives. The reopening of schools must be coordinated with massive investment in housing, healthcare, replacement pay, and jobs.